For at least the past 5 years, there has been endless rabble about local search. Every year up until now has been the “Year of Local”. Mostly thanks to the growing influence of Mobile in the past two years and Google’s investments in developing Google Places, we are finally seeing this happen.
In 2010, Google dedicated a lot of resources to collect information about businesses and confirming its authenticity. There is no doubt 2011 is the year where local search and SEO converge. It’s a force that can no longer be ignored; the way you conduct business online (and offline) absolutely matters to securing new business in your local community.
So hear me out, because when we’re through, you’ll have my personal list of 70 important sites to save you hours of time.
Why Local Search Matters for All Businesses
People will always need to locate local services and products, and typically don’t want to drive further than 5-10 miles to find them. As a society, we now depend less on traditional means of finding these local businesses and services:
- Phone directories (the cost of advertising often isn’t worth it anymore)
- Newspapers (losing readership for years)
- Telemarketing (do not call lists)
- TV (people just record their shows)
- … and even direct mail is not only expensive, but often simply pitched by the receiver. The high cost of production and post combined with low conversion makes this ineffective for the small business owner.
Even if I’m totally wrong about Local and SEO, it’s still important for any business. Why? Because many small businesses, including those without Websites, are now online. Thanks to Google Places, many small businesses now have an optimized page waiting for reviews and feedback. This is critical for small businesses and cannot be ignored any longer.
Example: A Google Search for “st. louis plumbers”.
Notice below there are several large pegs marking plumbing businesses; most or all of these have claimed their Google Places page. All of them have at least a Website and/or reviews. Those smaller dots? Businesses not in the top 10 local results, many without Websites, many without reviews, and it’s very likely most of them are completely unaware a Google Places page about them exists:
Local Search, Online Conversations and SEO
For businesses with a substantial portion of business online, it matters even more. Online Local search is also becoming a factor in how your business is found in the Top 10 Search Results. Google is watching social signals to determine site rankings now, and if you look closely at Google’s business pages, they’re even using keywords in reviews to determine positive/negative sentiment.
Example with a local St. Louis pizzeria:
How to Enhance your Local Presence Online
This is going to transform the search landscape dramatically. So if you’re serious about marketing your business online, it is now more important than ever that you do these things:
1) Claim your Google Places page
2) Claim your business on all of the most important online directory sites.
3) Ensure all of the information, descriptions, and categories for your business are correct.
4) Get positive reviews to your business.
Get Started Today: Download my List of Important Local Sites
Submitting your site around the Internet is incredibly boring, tedious, and confusing. I’m knee-deep in online promotions every day, so I’ve already done the boring work of locating these Websites and their submission pages so you don’t have to.
Below is a downloadable spreadsheet with around 70 of the most important Websites for local SEO, the links to submit to them, a confirmation if their reviews are indexed by Google Places, and any more relevant notes/information I have about that directory. They are categorized first by the most important Websites, a list of second-tier directories, and a list of niche vertical local sites in case your business falls under any of those categories.