Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Put Your Company on the Map

Note: I wrote this for Southern PHC Magazine and would normally link to it, but the article is not online, so I'm reprinting here.

As consumer yellow page usage wanes, local Internet search is becoming more important. Search for “air conditioning” and based on your IP address, search engines like Google will serve up local companies, including a map with locations. You want your company on this map.

Putting your company on Google Maps, which is Google’s local search, is simple. Visit http://local.google.com/ and click on “Put your business on Google Maps.” You will need to create a Google account, but that only takes seconds.

Your company may already be listed. If it is, Google will prompt you to claim it.

Fill out all information on your company. Make sure you incorporate product, service, and brand search terms.

Google verifies all local business listings. You can choose phone or postal mail. Pick the phone method. It’s faster.

The Ten Pack

The coveted placement for you is the “ten pack” of local businesses displayed next to the map during a search (the ten pack doesn’t always contain ten companies). Within the ten pack, you want to be ranked as high as possible. Here are five ways to improve your ranking…

  1. Internet Directories – Get listed on every Internet yellow pages and business directory you can find. This includes the chamber of commerce, city directories, the Better Business Bureau, trade association directories, manufacturer dealer locators, NATE’s Consumer to Contractor Connection, InfoUSA’s database, Yahoo, Bing, DMOZ and other search directories, etc.

  2. Keyword in Business Name – Including the right search term in your company name can make the difference between being ranked #4 and #1. Make sure you include “heating and air conditioning” in your listing.

  3. Customer Reviews – If you increase the number of customer reviews, you will increase your ranking. Ask your customers to review your company on Google. Use a review guide like the one shown to encourage customers to complete the review. You can download this review by clicking on “Free Stuff” at www.ServiceRoundtable.com.

  4. Social Media – Create a Facebook fan page that links back to your website. Create Linked In and Plaxo profiles with links to your website.

  5. Full Address – Make sure your website contains your full address, preferably on the front page.

Here are three things to avoid…

  1. Toll Free Phone Number – You should avoid using the exclusive use of a toll free phone number on your website. Local businesses should have local numbers according to search engine ranking logic.

  2. P.O. Box – Do not rely solely on a post office box. Add your physical address as a shipping address.

  3. Multiple Addresses – Limit yourself to one address on your website. Multiple addresses tends to confuse the search engines.

Focus On Google First

Why Google? According to comScore, Google not only commands 64% of all domestic Internet searches, but its share is rising. The volume of searching is increasing and Google is taking 90% of the increase. Last year, 85 billion searches were performed in the United States using Google.

Do not ignore the other search engines. Many people still use them. But more use Google than all others combined.

Putting yourself on the (Google) map only takes a few minutes. Spend a few more to boost your ranking and you will find your incoming call volume increasing without spending another dime.

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