How Search Engines Gather Data about Your Local Business
Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing rely on third party data providers for nearly all of the data that shows up in their local business listings. These data providers include aggregation houses such as Axciom and InfoUSA , common Internet Yellow Page type sites such as Super Pages and Merchant Circle, and social media review sites such as Yelp and iBegin. With such a complex eco-system of local business data, it’s important to claim your listings to consolidate all this fragmented business information under a profile that is under your own control.
Claiming your listing is also the best preventive measure against your listing being hijacked by an unscrupulous competitor, misrepresented with inaccurate information, or merged with a competitor’s data. It’s also the very first step in being able to actually optimize your business listing by hand.
How to Claim Your Listings
You can create your business listing at Google Local Business Center, Bing, and Yahoo. Sign up as a user at each of these respective business centers. Then either search for your business by name and address, or add the business location by following the relevant instructions.
While you’re filling out the required business information, ensure that you’re using the Doing Business As (DBA) for your business, and that you’re maintaining a consistent format for your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). It is important that you fill out this information as accurately as possible so search engines can find your business in third party business data they draw on and associate it accurately with your business profile. Complete your profile as comprehensively as possible:
- Provide a keyword-rich business description.
- Complete all the fields for business information, such as hours of operation, payments accepted, services offered, certifications, awards, parking availability, etc.
- Upload or link to the maximum allowable number of business images and videos.
When you are ready to verify your information, you will be either contacted via:
- Phone with a secret pin code to verify your identity, or
- Postcard mailed to your business location.
Once you have verified your information, you now control your local business listing.
Best Practices in Claiming Business Listings
- Do not create duplicate business listings when claiming an existing unverified listing.
- Create only one listing for every physical brick-and-mortar location you have.
- Follow the listing guidelines for each of the major search engine local business centers.
- Do not use call-tracking phone numbers as part of your listing.
- When possible, use a local phone number rather than a toll-free number for additional ranking power.
Call me if you would like to get your business on the “local map”.