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:
- Major data providers
- Search engines
- 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.
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:
- Google Places for Business
- Bing Business Portal
- Yahoo! Local
- Yelp for Business Owners
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.