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?"

It used to be a few decades ago that getting ranked for a certain keyword or phrase was nothing more that repeating your choice of keywords over and over again. But today that's no longer a viable strategy. Let's consider just one very important aspect of search engine optimization, and that is, "online 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 on a directory is because they 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 success with business directories is being consistent with every listing as far as name, address and phone (NAP)!"

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 correct grammar and spelling. The worst negative ranking factor for a small business is a listing that has been detected at a false business location, and this can happen with only a slight variation in the way you format your NAP.

Consistent NAP

It can't be stressed enough that NAP consistency helps your search engine optimization (SEO). Moreover, you might also want to include the following:

Business Hours
Description of your business
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 software solutions that quickly push their NAP into multiple directory venues all at once. This is an effective way to get visibility from potential customers you are seeking to do business with.

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 50+ directories.

Some disadvantages of using software are:

-Not proven to produce a significant amount of visits to your website.
-Does not necessarily boost page rank.
-Does not provide listings that are "owner verified." You may not be able to log into your account with a user and password.
-Can result in duplicate listings on directories that are difficult to correct, and even more difficult to remove entirely.

Can I do it myself?..

Before submitting your business information to online directories, consider the advantages of doing research on your chosen list of 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 in doing research and then creating the listings yourself. This will ensure "ownership verification." So before you submit, find out the following:

1. 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.
2. Check to see if the directory is banned from the Google index.
3. 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.
4. 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 stop their NAP from being displayed online. If you should decide to delete yours, you will be able to do so without having to use an aggregator.
5. 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."

Too see a list of directories that are NOT legitimate (in other words, "banned"), there are two spreadsheets that show which directories were banned and/or penalized, plus a bit of data about each one. 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 than the quantity. Relevancy is also important, as there are various directories that pertain to a general industry or specialized expertise. If you're wondering how to tell which directories are legit, visit the following 2 sites:
- https://www.dexmedia.com/blog/32-business-listing-sites-that-will-get-you-referral-traffic
- http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/top-20-places-business-needs-listed-online/
- Moz Local is a one-step solution that ensures that your business listings are correct, consistent, and visible across the web. You simply enter your local business information and they push your listings to all the major data aggregators. - Yext is a New York based technology company that enables businesses to update location-related information on multiple websites from one place. Their automated software pushes your local business data to a bunch of major sites super fast. They offer you a free scan of your business to see how you presently appear online and a pricing plan to accommodate your unique business. - Universal Business Listing is another paid submission company that merchants can use to get listed on over 300 search engines and directories.

Citations

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.

The process of getting citations in various places online can be done with manual submissions or with the help of some software. Whichever one you choose, citations assist the search engines in knowing what industry you're in, thus categorizing your business more accurately and getting your pages into a solid 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:

- https://moz.com/learn/local/citations-by-city

THE BEST CITATION SOURCES BY U.S. CATEGORY:

- https://moz.com/learn/local/citations-by-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. To determine your appropriate occupational category, use Blumenthals Categories. Google Category Tool to choose the correct categories for your Google Places and/or Brand Pages. Once you've chosen your categories, try using Search Engine Land's free list of keyword search tools helpful for learning which keywords are relevant to your category. The MOZ Keyword Explorer is also helpful, and you will find them at the MOZ Pro Keyword Explorer

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.

Manual listing corrections and deletions

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.

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