September 15th, 2017
How Do I Get My Business Listed First?
The question is very often asked, "how do I get my business listed first on Google?" The hot desire to get a website listed on the first page of Google is one of the most sought-after challenges undertaken by business owners. The most common reason is that the large majority of searches don't go deeper than page one of a SERP, regardless of the search topic. There is also a lot of competition that is created by brand industries who sink ten's of thousands of dollars in paid advertising, making it very tough for the small business owners who are in the same industry. These big industries dominate page one of almost every search engine, and they not only dominate page one, but they dominate and stay there! So now you're asking yourself again, "how do I get my business listed first on Google?"
Business Directory Submission
A few decades ago, getting ranked for a certain keyword or phrase meant nothing more than repeating your choice of keywords over and over again (keyword stuffing). But today that's no longer a viable strategy. Let's consider a different strategy, and one that's a very important aspect of local search engine optimization, and that is, "business directory submission!"
Should I submit to online directories?
Yes,. you should submit your business information to various online directories that are relevant to your industry. The main reason why business owners should consider listing their business information on a directory is because the directories allow you to create a citation of your business that includes your Name, Address and Phone (NAP). A well-formulated citation that includes your NAP tells a search engine the who, where and how of your business.
Who: your business name is who you are.
Where: your address is where you are located.
How: and finally, your phone number is how customers contact you!
By providing online directories with vital business information, you are essentially providing the search engines with "transparency," and this effectively moves a website forward in the search results. This is also a great way to get direct leads and consumer reviews from potential customers!
"The key to local SEO is submitting to the world of free business directories!"
Now that you know a little about the online directory realm, please also keep in mind that not only should your NAP be spread out across directories, but also forums, social networks, Chamber of Commerce, BBB,. and let's not forget your website!
Remember that consistency matters, and you'll want to be sure that your business information is listed with the correct format and spelling everytime. A slight variation in your NAP is ok, such as "suite" vs. "ste." However, the worst negative ranking factor for a small business is a listing that has been detected at a false business location!
You might ask, "should my NAP listings be formatted EXACTLY the same EVERYTIME?.." No, you don't have to be a "stickler" about perfection when it comes to your NAP, so don't worry too much about it. There's this thing called normalization, and Google uses it to cut you a little slack. So when it comes to minor variations such as "Ste" vs. "Suite, or "Bld" vs. Boulevard," you shouldn't sweat the small stuff, they pretty much have all that stuff figured out.
"Google and the major search engines realize that you're only human, so and as long as you format as close as possible each time, you should be ok."
NAP + Citation
In addition to your NAP, consider a full citation of your business and include the following:
- Description of your business
- Business Hours
- Business Categories
- Logo and pictures
- Mission Statement
- Website URL
Using Data Aggregators to Get Listed
In the rush to get branded on the Web, some business owners choose an online software solution SEO company that will quickly push their NAP into multiple directory venues all at once. These may seem like an effective way to get visibility from potential customers, however, there are disadvantages of doing it this way.
Should I use Yext?
Data aggregators like Acxiom, Factual, and Infogroup enable you to control your NAP from one centralized location. These services provide tools for maintaining and correcting your business data on a super wide level. However, they don't offer the best solution for branding, content writing and social networking. Be aware that they are not very good at promoting your business with detailed and unique business descriptions, as sometimes they list your descriptions as duplicate content. Finally, after your business is listed, you will need to verify that your citations were correctly formatted, as these data services do not always list and update your information correctly when populating local listings.
"The main drawback to aggregators is that they sometimes push your information into directories that format your NAP incorrectly."
Be cautious when using this method to push your NAP into multiple business directories. If you hire a company to do it, they will most likely be using automated software that is widely used by other companies, but that does not necessarily mean that you will get listed accurately, especially if they are pushing your information into 70+ directories.
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Some disadvantages of using software are:
-Not proven to produce a significant amount of visits to your website.
-Does not necessarily boost page rank, as your business listing page will probably not get indexed.
-Does not provide each listing account with "owner verification." You may not be able to log into your account with an assigned user and password.
-Can result in duplicate listings on directories that are difficult to correct, and even more difficult to remove entirely.
Is there a risk if I decide to cancel Yext or any other automated listing service?
Yes, there is definitely some level of risk if you decide to cancel. It's important to realize that once you've decided to cancel this type of service that they will not assume the responsibility of keeping your business information up-to-date. Furthermore, if you hired them initially to update or correct mistakes in your citations, then they may decide to allow your information to revert back to it's original listing state!
If you notice a mistake in just one of your listed citations, then it' fair to assume that there could be a common mistake in as many as 70 other directory listings, leaving it up to you to figure out how to correct them. If you contact the aggregator about the problem, then they will inform you that you must hire them back in order correct and update your listings.
Try to stick with directories that are legit. Stay away from directories and SEO companies that claim they can:
- Get you referral traffic quick!
- Push your local business data to a bunch of major sites super fast!
- Scan your business listings accross the web and the give you an accuracy rating in your current listings.
- Promise you the ability to make updates and corrections from your location.
- Say they can enable a one-step solution that ensures that your business listings are correct, consistent and visible across the web.
- Get you listed on over 300 search engines and directories.
Can I do it myself, or ask my webmaster to do it?
Yes, and it's highly recommended. Before submitting your business information to an aggregator, consider the advantages of doing your own research on some popular directories, and then listing your business information yourself one at a time. Some will say that if done manually that it's a long and frustrating process, but there are advantages of creating the listings yourself. This will ensure "ownership verification," in other words, you will have the direct ability to perform complete edits and deletions. While doing your research, find out the following:
- Make sure that you can directly edit your directory listing yourself without having to use software or submitting a request. This will ensure quick updates if your NAP changes.
- Find out what their page rank is. If a directory has established some page rank, then a website link pointing toward your domain will provide some good link juice.
- Check to see if the directory is banned from the Google index.
- Only get listed on directories that give you the option to delete your entire listing and account information. There are various reasons why business owners will chose to do this, and whether it's for personal or professional reasons, they can easily prevent their NAP from being displayed online any further. If you should decide to delete yours, you will be able to do so without having to use an aggregator.
- If they allow a link back to your website, determine if they permit the "follow" value in your link rel attribute. "Using software is not always the best way, as there is no guarantee that an automated software program will push your information into only legitimate directories."
To find information on directories that are NOT legitimate (in other words, "banned" or "penalized"), simply type in the words "banned business directories" and start your own research campaign. It's worth it to take a little time to check them out (one at a time) for yourself.
How many directories should I get listed on?
There is no organization that sets a limit on the number of directories that you can register with. Be selective when making your decisions however, as it is more important to consider the quality of the directories over the quantity. Relevancy is also important, as there are various directories that pertain to a general industry or specialized expertise.
A citation is a mention or reference about your business website from another site. A citation includes your NAP, and sometimes a link to your website (NAP + W). This is an important key to good search engine rankings, as accurate citations on quality sites can really move you forward in the SERP's.
Citations assist the search engines in knowing what industry you're in, thus categorizing your business more accurately and getting your pages into their index. So consider a well-rounded citation with name, address, phone, along with a link to your website and a picture or two with a small company description.
THE BEST CITATION SOURCES BY U.S. CITY:
THE BEST CITATION SOURCES BY U.S. CATEGORY:
Determining Your Appropriate Category
The Google business categories that you choose to represent your occupation is an important step. The choices you make can be the difference between a highly visible presence online and a business that's nowhere on the virtual map.
Search engines usually allow you to place your business into more than just one category, and they allow this because they know that it will help describe the overall nature of your business. The search engines will use the category data you supply them and place you in the search results appropriately. The search engines will not display a business on a SERP that is miscategorized from inaccurate keywords and key phrases. This is especially true when you are competing against common industries - plumbers, electricians, dentists - who have already optimized their pages under the appropriate category with relevant keywords
The Google index is like a virtual list, which lists information about all the pages in your website directory. Once indexed, Google pretty much knows who and what you are, so it's important to take the time to find out what category you're in according to your industry, and then determine the right keywords. Remember that in order for your site's contents to be included in the results of a search page, your pages need to be included in the Google index. These are pages available to appear in search results, along with other URLs Google might discover in other ways.
Avoid Getting Listed on Too Many Directories
It is suggested that you avoid getting listed on too many directories in order to avoid having trouble updating your NAP if your business information should change. Many business owners are too confident that their NAP will never change during the life-cycle of their business, but there is always a chance that it might.
There is no guarantee that software will successfully change your NAP on all listing venues. You will then need to manually correct mistakes (or delete) the listing on your own. If your NAP was pushed through to 100 sites, you must now manually "claim" the business listing for which you are represented and then modify or delete the mistakes yourself. Many times there are "sealed directories" that will not allow you to do this, or only part of it. Since Yext is an automated solution, it doesn't necessarily set you up with a user and password to any directories in the first place, leaving you wondering how to make the corrections if there is no way to claim the business.
Sometimes information is scraped by a human or a bot and then pushed into a database. There are many places to look for information, and different parts of information is targeted.