Local Search Optimization, It’s All About Timing

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There have been many articles on the subject of local search optimization, but only few about the proper timing of optimization steps. In order to understand what timing and local SEO have in common, you first need to know that there are three types of local directories:

  1. Major data providers
  2. Search engines
  3. Local directories

Order of things

Knowing where and when to create or claim your business listing first, is crucial part of your local search optimization campaign. Although many of these local directories pull information from each other and you cannot really distinguish between the head and the tail, it is vital that you first try to claim or create business profiles with the big shots.

Knowing where and when to create or claim your business listing first, is a crucial part of your local search optimization campaign.

Take a look at this image, courtesy of GetListed.org. It shows relationships between various data providers and aggregators. Some go one-way, others are two-way data streams.

Local Search Ecosystem

It’s important to distinguish between data providers (suppliers) and data aggregators.

1. Major data providers

Major data providers supply information to all search engines and local directories. You should update your business information there first.

There are several major data providers:

Verification is done either by phone or simply by a confirmation email.

After you finish claiming, updating and creating business listing or deleting the bogus ones, you should wait a couple of weeks before search engines and local directories pull information and update their instances of your business information.

Reasons why you should be patient are:

  • You want to evade the creation of duplicate and inaccurate profiles
  • You don’t want search engines to think your business is a charade
  • You want to cut yourself some slack in fixing erroneous business info

Moving on to search engines, you should know that their importance is increasing. In the beginning, the almighty Google valued information from Yelp and used reviews from local directories. Things are definitely changing – Google, Bing and Yahoo! now value their own reviews more, but major data providers still remain the main source for data about your business.

2. Search engines

You should attend to these only after taking care of the data suppliers. Give it a little time and then claim your listing on the following search engines:

Once you verify yourself as the owner by waiting for a postcard with a pin code or for an automated phone call (Yelp), you can start building listings with photos, videos, work hours, descriptions, business categories and everything else there is.

The more business information you give, the more authority your business gets.

Most local directories and search engines have a two-way connections, meaning they complement each other’s business listings.

3. Local directories

Niche, vertical and geo directories are data aggregators that sit at the lowest branch. They gather information and allow you to further explain your business. Quite often they offer a review system to people, so you can, hopefully, get some nice grades and reviews.

You can find these simply by searching for your business (category) and add a local modifier. For example, “Dentist San Francisco CA“. If you want to find and populate only the most influential local directories in your city, check out best citations sources in US.

Not intimidated by the fiscal cliff? Then, use an online, paid service like WhiteSpark to find new local citation opportunities.

Services like Yext and GetListed help you check for the most known directories. They both offer paid services, but I suggest you find the time to go over the listings yourself or find someone you trust to do this for you. This way, you’ll do a much thorough job and you won’t have to worry about inconsistencies or half-baked apple pies.


The more exact citations of your business, the more prominent your local profile will be. Consistency is the key here; pay attention to your NAP (name, address & phone number) info. You don’t want variations, because search engines see that as a lack of legitimacy.

And remember, proper timing in your local SEO tactic is what saves you from duplicate and inaccurate business citations and establishes a solid foundation for a successful local business.

Dragan Nikolic

Dragan Nikolic

Blogger for hire at Dragan Nikolic
I'm a co-founder of ThematoSoup and a blogger for hire. Get in touch with me if you want to secure and optimize your WordPress website.... Read Full Bio
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  • Problem is with Date Feed provider, I heard it will takes upto 6 month to update and distribute to its channels,..then few more weeks to update database for public search..Timing make sense but I think submit it to sites are time saver instead of going through data feed provider..takes too long..

    • Brian,

      It does take a lot of time for some data providers to share (push) data.

      The biggest virtue when it comes to doing SEO is patience, for most businesses. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean every (seasonal) business will appreciate this attitude, but you just have to make clients aware that doing stuff in a flash doesn’t always spell “good-job”.

      Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to read the article.

    • Great tips Dragan! Its very important for businesses who have branches across multiple locations in the world to claim different local listings (in regional languages wherever necessary). After getting both paid and free quality listings with genuine NAP across many different sources, its important to get your customers to give their honest and positive review about your business or products. Follow David Mihm’s blogs, there is none better than him in the field of Local SEO, he recently joined the team at SEOMOZ.

      • Sahil,

        Reviews are a big part of local seo campaign, but I’ll write about that in another blog post.

        Yes, Mihmorandum is one of the best blogs when it comes to local search, thanks for sharing it with Search Engine Journal readers.

  • Good info, thanks Dragan. I’ll post this over at the Local Search Forum since you make some good points.

    I personally don’t do much with citations as I put more of my Local SEO efforts into on-site SEO these days, since citations mainly move the needle in the old pack algo. In the new blended algo it’s mainly about organic ranking factors.

    • Thanks so much, Linda. I should probably feel honored.

      I guess doing everything you can moves the needle even farther, whether it’s on-page SEO, citations or profiles on local directories, but yes, I’d always give higher priority to what one does on her/his website than making sure local directories got it right.

  • Sorry didn’t mean to make it sound like citations aren’t important – they ARE!

    Back when I was still doing optimization (I don’t any more, only do training now), alll my clients had mature Dental practices so they had plenty of good base citations, so adding more didn’t move the needle – the other local SEO things I did are what moved it.

    But def if new business or scrambled data, need to work on citations. And your point is good about building some citations before claiming, especially if it’s a brand new business.

    • I completely agree with you.

      Local citations and directories = ground work, but necessary.

  • Hey Dragan,

    Great post, big believer in the slow is better mantra. The only problem is having to explain this to non-seo types. It gets frustrating.

    I dont know what is more frustrating, rebuilding my website or dealing with stubborn clients… lol

    -google places link is broken… Getting 404
    -Axcion is no longer in service.

    • Hey,

      It is a problem, having to explain this to business owners, I know.

      Thanks so much for the notes – In the process of fixing that.


  • The problem I see with many of these directories is that it can take up to three months to process.

    • I know Charles.

      it’s amazing how, in this era of high speed internet and advanced information technologies, it takes so much time for several kilobytes of data to be transferred.

      Thanks for stopping by.