There are hundreds of factors that affect your online visibility, but three important ones are Listings, Citations, and Reviews
Getting found online is a challenge for most small businesses. The factors that affect how well your business will rank in a local search are too numerous to mention. But here are three you can do something about:
In 2009, Google launched Places, a listing and profile of every “place” in the world. To date, Google has cataloged over 80 million businesses and organizations worldwide.
Google allows companies and organizations to gain access to their listing by “claiming” it; and once claimed, you can add additional information about your business, such as:
- Years in business
- Products and services
- Brands sold or serviced
- Hours of operation
- Industry certifications or authorized sales and service
- Special offers
- Photos and video
Yahoo and Bing offer the same ability with their local listings. All of this additional information goes a long way towards improving your visibility in the search results. Yet, in spite of the benefits, nearly 90 percent of Google Places listings (now Google+ Local) remain unclaimed.
Beside Google+ Local, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local, there are hundreds of other local search directories on which you should get listed, such as Yelp, Superpages, Angie’s List, Merchant Circle, and Foursquare. That’s where citations come into the picture.
A citation is simply any mention of your business name, address and phone number. The more places your business is consistently and accurately listed, the better your chances of being found. More listings means Google and other search engines can be more confident that your business actually exists and that the information they provide to searchers is accurate.
But getting citations on hundreds of sites means manually claiming each listing on an individual basis—an extremely time-consuming task. That’s where a listings management service can help. If nothing else, you want to claim your Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, and Yelp listings.
The vast majority of consumers trust reviews, which is why Google tends to rank you higher in a local search if you have a significant amount of reviews.
Like listings and citations, reviews are one more factor that increases your visibility in the search engines. While all negative reviews can hurt your ranking, having a large number of honest reviews can significantly boost your online visibility.
Many companies, however, are completely unaware when someone posts a negative review. Leaving your online reputation to chance is a big risk. A more proactive solution is to have a plan in place to monitor your reputation.
I’ve already talked about how time-consuming getting citations can be. The same is true with soliciting reviews from your customers and claiming your Google, Yahoo, and Bing listings. So if you’d rather spend your time doing what you do best, then consider letting us do what we do best—helping small businesses like yours improve their marketing. Contact us today.