How to Compete for Google’s Local Search Results without a Website
Even without a website, it’s possible to leverage the power of Google to attract customers and build a loyal following – albeit not as effectively as your local competitors who have a website.
Create a Search Engine Listing for Your Business – No Website Required
Creating a basic business listing is free, and is one of the first steps you should take to begin building your online presence. It notifies the search engines that your business is local in nature and deserving of a place in local search results.
- Create and save a separate ‘business profile’ containing all of your basic business information. This ensures that your information is consistent across all search engines and directories; the smallest discrepancy such as listing your address as ‘Main Street’ in one listing and ‘Main St.’ in another is enough to confuse the search engines and cost you potential traffic and referrals. Include your full business name, complete address, telephone number, email address, and business hours. Add a description of your business, including products and services offered, and photos and videos if permitted.
- Register and claim your business listing with the Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines by copy-and-pasting your information from your ‘business profile’ information.
Register and Claim Your Business Listing with the Appropriate Local Directories
These listings are also known as citations, and serve as confirmation to the search engines that your business is local and entitled to inclusion in local search results.
- Use your ‘business profile’ information to complete a business listing with each of the business directories active in your area, such as SuperPages, CitySearch and Best of the Web.
- Moz.com has a great free tool that will allow you to check the accuracy of your listing among the top online directories. Simply provide your business name and location, and you’ll get an instant report showing you where your listings contain incomplete or inconsistent information.
Claim Your Listing with the Major Review Sites and Start Collecting Reviews
- Claim your business listing by copy-and-pasting your ‘business profile’ information into the review sites and directories that pertain to your area and business niche. This allows you to control the accuracy of your business information, and gives you the ability to respond to any negative reviews.
- Encourage your customers to review your business, especially on your Google Places listing. Never pay for reviews or post fake reviews – if you get caught, you’ll lose credibility as well as damage your online reputation.
Increase Your Social Media Activity
An active social media presence not only provides another channel to connect with current and prospective customers, it can help increase your visibility for local search results; the search engines frequently index social content for their results pages.
- Create a business profile for both Facebook and Twitter; these are two of the popular social media channels, and are appropriate for a variety of local business niches.
- Post regularly to maintain a sense of continuity with your followers and fans.
- Social media is not the place to hard-sell your products and services. At least 80 per cent of your content should be useful, and ideally entertaining, information about your niche and your local community.