With small brick and mortar businesses starting to see the value in shifting some of their massive yellow page budgets over to online marketing, local search has become a hot topic. Unfortunately, many small businesses find themselves confused in terms of how to target those local visitors when they move their searches online. Ironically, this often leads them right back to the yellow pages...the online yellow pages. While there's something to be said for maintaining a presence there, it's important that these businesses learn how to better target the growing usage of the local search tools on popular search engines.

Jim Parent tackles this topic in an article titled "8 Ways to Improve Your Local Search Results" over at Search Engine Watch that recaps the Local Search Marketing Tactics panel from SES San Jose.

Many of the tips are common sense, but for a business small business owner, they're still "to do" list items that often fall by the wayside.

3. Check out your business listing on the major search engines

Check out your business listings on Google, Yahoo Local, and MSN Live Search. If your business is not found, you should submit a listing at Google, Yahoo, and Superpages (for Microsoft Live Search).

For each business listing, make sure that your information is correct, your business description is complete, and that it uses the same keywords that you are using on your web site. Make sure that your description has all the information that your potential customers will need to contact you, since people often will not click through to your web site from the local business listing. Include the county in addition to the city on your business listing. Finally, check out any photos of your business on the business directories, and provide better photos where appropriate.

I've had quite a few articles lately offering up some step by step advice on improving your local search presence. It's not difficult, it just takes a little bit of time. Making sure you have an updated presence on sites like Yelp, Google Maps, Ask City and Yahoo Local and using things like Google Coupons are all quick and easy ways to make a dent in the local search market.

The good news is, even the companies that are starting to explore online marketing and search engine marketing often still forget to update their info on these sites. Get there first with even the most basic information and you'll launch yourselves ahead of the competition.

(Check out SEO Roundtable for a full recap of the Local Search Marketing Tactics session.)

September 20, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Good advice! If you're a UK business you need to check your company's listing on Touch (free for basic listing), WeLoveLocal.com (free) and www.Bizwiki.co.uk (free)

So why do say SuperPages and not Live (MSN) directly?

I don't. Jim Parent does. That quote is taken from his article.

Thanks for the advice on local marketing. I have updated our companies details on these sites where possible.

WeLoveLocal.com will only allow me to update my listings with a verification code that they send in the post.

This is not ideal given that we have just moved and our previous premises are now reduced to rubble.

Yahoo in Canada works like MSN. You have to have a business listing with Superpages/Yellowpages. And for THAT, you need a local business phone account.
Which puts it out of reach for many SOHO businesses. (I can't afford an extra 1400 per year. At this point that is 50% of my sales.

MANY local listings are free for basic plan, extra for extra features. Right now I'm trying to get on as many of the free ones I can.

One of the obnoxious features of many is how they define local. I live near a small twon about 75 km (50 mi) from a major metro area. Some of them won't accept me for a metro listing since I'm not in the city. Getting a local listing for a town of 500 is not useful if you have to specify the town name as part of the search.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Boost Your Local Search Presence