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Local Search=Where Are You? + What Do You Do? Part 2

  |  July 31, 2009   |  Comments

How to increase your company's visibility in Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local.

Last time, we talked about optimizing your Web site to tell Google and your visitors where you are and what you do. Another online place where it's critical to clearly identify where you are and what you do: your local business profile on Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local.

Categories

In Google Maps, you may classify your business in up to five categories. These may be standard categories provided by Google Maps or those that you create yourself. Use one to two of the standard categories that best fit your business, and then create three to four that contain your best keyword terms plus the location terms for which you most want to be found.

For example, as a plastic surgeon in Denver, you should classify yourself in the established categories of Physicians & Surgeons, and Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. However, it may be hard to find other existing categories that apply to what you do. In that case, for the other four categories, use the keyword phrases for which you would most like to be found.

These categories may be based on any criteria important to you. Some suggestions are the number of searches made for the terms, your most profitable procedures, and the categories in which your strongest competitors have chosen to place themselves. Or the categories may be based on some other criteria known only to you. Examples of terms a Denver plastic surgeon might use are Breast Implants Denver, Denver Tummy Tuck, and Colorado Rhinoplasty.

Use a geographic term in your chosen categories to make it very clear to Google where you do business. Using the names of nearby areas in which you are not located may help you to rank better for those searches, too. For example, if your office is in Cherry Creek, but most searchers use "Denver" in their queries, you could use Denver terms in your categories instead of Cherry Creek terms.

Yahoo Local and Bing Local do not permit you to create your own categories. Therefore, choose as many categories as you are permitted, selecting those you feel are the most appropriate and important first.

Descriptions

Also use location terms within the description area of your profiles, where you have complete control of what is written. These descriptions are crawled and indexed by the local spiders, so make certain they find your most important geographic terms within them.

Attributes

Attributes, which are only in your Google Maps profile and not in Bing Local or Yahoo Local, allow you to go hog wild with terms to tell spiders and humans what you do and where you do it. You essentially create and name a field whatever you wish and then populate it with terms describing that property.

Nearly every business pulls people from both its immediate location and surrounding areas. So, you could create a field named Locations Served and list the towns and neighborhoods near you and from which your business typically draws customers.

Some enterprises, like plumbing repairs, carpet cleaning, lawn care, and pet sitting go to the customer instead of customers coming to them. For a business like this, you could title a field Service Areas and list the places where you are willing to travel to provide your services.

Additionally, you can include attributes that allow you to use keyword terms that contain geographic modifiers. For example, if you have a property management company in Denver, you might begin with a field titled Rentals and populate it with terms like "Denver Condos," "Townhomes in Denver," "Denver Houses," "Apartments Near Denver Tech Center," "LoDo Penthouse," and "Downtown Denver Lofts." This can be an effective way to help you rank for long-tail terms that apply to where you are and what you do.

Coupons

Although not every business type has been traditionally associated with coupons, creative entrepreneurs are finding ways to use them to their benefit. Nearly every enterprise can offer some sort of discount or value-added coupon for their goods or services. For inspiration, sniff around to see what your competitors and businesses similar to yours in other locations are doing with coupons. Then, when you create your coupons, include your best keyword terms plus your location in the offers.

It's likely that attributes from Google Maps Local Business Listings and coupons from all of the platforms are pushed out to other places on the Web, such as Google Base and coupon Web sites, so the impact can be far-ranging.

Local business listings are designed to help searchers find businesses in particular geographic locations. Make it easy for Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local to tell where you are and what you do to increase the odds they will find your business when a relevant search is made.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Bowling

Mary Bowling has been involved in all aspects of online marketing since 2003. She has a special interest in Web site usability and in search engine optimization, including optimizing all types of media for search engines. Mary has also developed specialized expertise in promoting brick-and-mortar businesses on the Internet through local search marketing. She is currently doing independent consulting and working with seOverflow and Maia Internet Consulting in Denver, CO, optimizing and marketing a wide variety of businesses and nonprofits online.

Her accomplishments include speaking at Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies conferences on a variety of topics, conducting trainings and webinars for Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Workshops, authoring popular white papers on local search and SEO for WordPress Blogs and speaking at SEMpx' s Searchfest.

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