Reaching Consumers Using Local Search Engines

How Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing are changing the search engine marketing game—and how you can get in on it

When someone sets out to find a new salon, she is more than likely looking for a service in a specific area, be that a manicure in sunny Santa Monica or a glossy locks in leafy Boston. She doesn’t have a name to type so she’s probably going to go for nail salons, Santa Monica, CA or hair salons, Boston or similar variations. The results that follow are salons listed by Local Search Engines (LSE) like Google Places, Yelp! or Yahoo! Local.

You want to be part of those lists because exploiting the opportunity of online location functionality as part of your search engine marketing brings many rewards:

    •    More prominent placement in search engine results (ahem, the top).
    •    Integration with mobile technology and social networking.
    •    Offers and specials functionality that make your business easier to try for the first time.
    •    Methods for collecting reviews and ratings to boost your credibility.
    •    Quick links to booking information – phone number, website, online booking page, etc.

There are more than 100 different places you can list your business, but to get started you should focus on the big three: Google Places, Bing and Yahoo! Local.

Other places to consider are definitely the following:
    •    Yelp!
    •    Yellowpages
    •    CitySearch
    •    Kudzu

These sites not only come up in the search results, they offer much more interactive information about your business such as photos and videos, reviews, web links, special offers and more. And the best thing about these results is they are part of the search results so you don’t have to go to a special website to find the salons, it comes up straight within the search results.

So how to you climb to the top of the LSE rankings you might ask? There’s a few ways to get your listing up top:

    •    Add as many categories as applicable and use the suggested categories functionality in these systems to help you exhaust all options.
    •    Add custom details fields and applicable URLs to your website.  For example, if you offer a new trendy service such as feather extensions, list that and have a link to the page on your website describing the service.  Along with a link to your online booking of course!  
    •    The more listings online, the better.  The businesses that have more representation online will be higher up in that list of map pins so go to all the obvious ones first and sign up, but don’t ignore less prominent lists, they can also provide traction.
    •    Ensure consistent information across all of your listings – and keep track of them all.  Also, if you move make sure you are extremely thorough in redirecting and updating all contact information as it can really confuse the search engines and affect your ranking.
    •    Post complete profiles in every area you have a presence and provide as much information as possible.  Things like neighborhood may seem irrelevant, but it’s important when users are refining and personalizing results.
    •    Encourage reviews from your clients.  The more the merrier as these have an impact on your prominence in the listings and it is also great material to convince people to try your business.

Remember that search engine optimization is all about proving you are the most relevant business for what the prospect is searching for.  The local search engine is no different, so make sure you are doing everything you can to prove you are the best match out there.

Valorie Reavis

If you have any queries for Valorie email her at [email protected].

Valorie Reavis is an online and social media marketing guru with Linkup Marketing focusing on search engine marketing, salon email marketing programs and social media marketing for salons and spas.

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