Search engines are changing. You may have noticed that any time you search for something in your area, you get more than the usual list of results, you get a map with some links next to it.
In Google, the map is called the “One Box” and the links next to it are called the “10-Pack” and clearly, the links are different there than in the regular “organic” listings below. If traditional SEO (content and inbound links) helps you in the organic, what helps you in the One Box and 10-pack? Evidence suggests that creating/claiming your local listings is a good start.
So here are the basic steps to claiming, creating and managing your local listing. We’re also showing you 19 places where you can do this. Most are Internet Yellow Pages sites (IYPs) and others are local directories and the search engines themselves.
You don’t need an expert to help you create and claim your listings. In fact, it’s best if you do this yourself.
Over the life of your business, you may update your site many times – at least every 3-5 years – and you may work with different companies on different generations of your website, but some things should always stay within your control. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t get help from experts, but just as you should be in control of your domain name, you may also want control over your local listings.
Pick Your Battles…
There are so many IYPs and local directories to choose from! Here are a few ways to find the best ones for you:
Where’s the Competition Listed?
From Google Maps, find competitors, click “more info,” then click the “websites” tab. You may find other places to add your listing.
Where are you located?
Many IYPs are still based on the databases they use for their printed phone books, which means that not all of them are relevant in all places. If the company doesn’t have a phone book in your region (such as Dex), it may not be possible to manage your listing on their site.
19 IYPs and other places for local listings
Largest IYP, provides listings to AOL Yellow Pages, MSN Yellow Pages. Owned by AT&T.
Second largest IYP, provides listings to SwitchBoard.com and InfoSpace.com. Owned by Idearc Media, a Verizon spinoff.
Formerly MSN Yellow Pages.
Yahoo! Yellow Pages
Owned by CitySearch.com
Provides listings to yellowpages.com, dexknows.com and yellowbook.com
Provides listings to CitySearch.com and Yahoo.com
This is a good one but it’s “paid inclusion.” They get listings from infoUSA and they share info with yellowpages.com, superpages.com, insiderpages.com and merchantcircle.com
Best of the Web – Local
This is a new “paid-inclusion” directory but the “jumpstart” listing is free.
The most important of all review sites
This local business review website provides ratings to Bing.com
This is mostly a peer-to-peer networking site, but there are business listings that can be managed
This site is really a tool to get contact information for people in businesses, but you can manage business listings
A listing on this site can include all kinds of things including galleries, a blog, a newsletter and a network of other businesses. (Citysearch profiles migrate automatically in several business categories)
Dun and Bradstreet
Keep it organized
To create or claim listings at all these locations, you’ll need to create accounts in a lot of places. I recommend keeping a spreadsheet with all the login info for all of your IYP and directory listings.
Keep it consistent
It’s ideal to have all of your listings be the same, if not identical. This will help seach engines know that each listing is yours. Make sure the business name is exactly the same in each listing. For the address, they should all have the same info in each field. Suppose your address is 123 Elm Street, Suite 4. Make sure that “Suite 4” is always in the “address two” field and that it doesn’t appear as “Unit 4” or “#4” in some IYPs but not others.
Select Categories Carefully
Many of these directories and IYPs will give you the opportunity to select categories for your business. Take your time doing this, making sure to choose all the most relevant categories. Be thorough.
A good way to start is to first search for businesses like yours in that IYP. See what categories appear first. This will help guide you toward the categories that bring the most traffic to your industry.
The best categories are those with names that include the words you’re targeting for search engines. For example, if your business is a car wash, categories that have the word “car” are generally better than those with “automotive.”
Also, it’s worthwhile to choose categories that aren’t already full of the competition’s listings. When a visitor browses through a directory, you want to be on page one, not page three. So look around to find categories that aren’t as crowded.
You may find that your company doesn’t fit easily into the categories provided (ours often doesn’t). This may be because they are using “Standard Industrial Classification” (SIC) codes. It looks like these classifications haven’t been updated in a long time…
Add Logos, Pictures, Videos, Certifications, etc.
Whenever possible, enhance the listing with as much information as you can. Many sites now let you add a lot of things to your listings. Our recommendation: add them all. Upload your logo, add descriptions, keywords, hours, payment methods, and anything else you can think of. More is better.
This step may take awhile. If there are multiple listings within an IYP for your business, claim one and request that the other be removed. These requests sometimes take weeks to process. But it’s important. You don’t want to confuse search engines by having more than one listing in any of the IYPs.
Why can’t I do all this from one place?
Supposedly, this is now possible. It’s called the Universal Business Listing. The idea is that you manage your local listing here, and they send the info to databases all over the place. I counted 44 different partners, including some that don’t let you manage your listing directly, like Acxiom. The downside? It costs $30.
Setting up and managing your local listings isn’t a one-step process. It may take weeks to remove duplicates and get some reviews. In fact, having your biggest fans submit reviews for you will become a lifetime process that you always have in the back of your mind. You may even find creative ways to give people an incentive to give you nice (but honest) reviews.
BONUS: Yellow Pages Trivia…
Back in the day, AT&T heavily marketed the term “Yellow Pages” and the walking fingers logo. But they never filed a trademark application, so it’s in the public domain. If you see this logo in marketing, keep in mind that anyone can use it so it doesn’t denote any kind of authority. There are lots of stories about people who paid a company to be listed in the “yellow pages” and later found out it was a small, insignificant directory or an outright scam.
But if you ever want to use that logo of the walking fingers in your marketing … well, go ahead!
A special thanks to Taylor Cimala and the team at Digital Third Coast for contributing to this article.
Questions? Contact Orbit Media for more insight into local search marketing.
About the Author
As a Principal and Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios, Andy draws on his knowledge of marketing, usability, and interactive design to lead strategic planning for the firm and its clients. Orbit specializes in Web, print, and video design & development. Orbit Media Studios