We talk regularly about the difference between “advertising” and “engaging”. At a hyperlocal level, it’s critical that small business owners not only reach out to new customers, but also engage their existing customers, since word of mouth can generate a significant share of small businesses revenue.
I often compare Local SEO to working out at the gym – there are people that try the fads and quick wins to get in shape, but the ones who do it best and are consistently in shape are the ones who build a solid regimen and stick to it.
Knowing that lots of people still try the quick fixes to get in shape, it’s not surprising that business owners hope their directory listing on local publisher sites will be a “quick win” for Local SEO success. Certainly, we wish it were true – I can imagine our late night infomercial showing a business owner with a “before” picture of their business being empty, and an “after” picture of a full bustling business, all just from claiming their business listing!
The truth is that Local SEO is indeed an exceptionally powerful way to grow a business and establish online word of mouth. But it’s foundational, not transactional. Business owners need to understand that there are certainly some short term benefits to a business directory listing, but the biggest (and longest lasting) benefits will be made over time, and with some consistent (but not overwhelming) effort on the owner’s part.
Local SEO is foundational, not transactional
With that in mind, here are some important things for local business owners to keep in mind when they claim or add their listing on their local publisher’s digital site, and especially when they upgrade to a premium paid tier:
(1) Your business listing is a unique URL on the publisher’s site, and is the “starting point” for Local SEO visibility. That URL is yours. We tell business owners they should think of it as their own full page ad on the publisher’s site. They can customize it, add information to it, and engage customers with it. For smaller businesses without a website, this URL could be their website. For businesses with a website, they should make sure they are cross linking their own site to their page on the publisher site.
(2) For businesses that want to “speed up” their Local SEO efforts, they can upgrade to a premium tier and add additional content to their page. Things such as “Event” and “Promotions” can be added to a business page, and the publisher can promote these independently for additional visibility. The “Image Gallery” allows you to “tag” images with keywords that can help your visibility.
(3) Business owners should plan to add regular content to your page on the publisher’s site – the more quality content, the more search engines will see that page as relevant and make it more visible for organic searches. Regular content includes images, promotions, events, and customer feedback. Most businesses make the mistake of putting all their information on a page one time, then never come back. For local searches, search engines are clearly looking for the most “active” pages to direct users to. If your page never has any new content, it’s not active.
(4) Feedback, Feedback, Feedback – this is the reason why SEO experts urge local businesses to get reviews (we call it feedback). This is a great way to leverage your own customers to help you generate new content. This cannot be stressed enough. One of the major benefits of signing up with your local publisher is they can help you generate that content through their readers. You should also be asking your customers directly to give you feedback via your page on the publisher site. It’s already there and working, why not use it?
(5) Publishers are really good at creating content too – if a business owner is too busy to enter content, they can pay to have the publisher (or a marketing agency) do it for them!
Business owners that are focused solely on transactional marketing are never going to have sustainable success, no matter whose site they advertise on. It’s critical that they not make this mistake with their business directory listing – claiming their listing is the first step to building Local SEO dominance. The great news is that the exercise program that local publishers offer is easy and affordable, and delivers foundational Local SEO value.
Business owners: think of your business directory page as a “full page living ad” that only grows by proper watering. A current and vibrant page will not be blocked by ad blockers, and looks great on mobile. Plus, the more content that’s there, the better it will show up on organic searches when people are looking for exactly what you offer!