We usually hyperfocus on Google Place search and Maps results, since they have such large market share. But there are good reasons for local businesses to be concerned with ranking elsewhere as well. So, here are a few other local search engines to consider, and a few tips for ranking effectively in their results.
It’s not surprising that many businesses focus mainly on ranking well in Google’s local results, but working to rank well in some other search properties often has the benefit of helping to augment one’s rankings in Google, too.
Ranking well in directories can give your listing a better signal in terms of linking weight or citation value on other sites, so performing well in local on subsidiary sites may help to build your rankings back in Google.
There are other good reasons to spend some time improving one’s position on secondary search engines, too. Diversifying your sources of traffic can help to reduce your dependency on the big Google mothership, which is always a good thing.
If a chance algorithm update reduces your rankings for searches related to your business in Google, having some presence in other channels can help to offset the impact for your business.
So, here are a few search engines that you may not have considered. There is some variation in how many local searches are being conducted in each of these, but each have some amount of searches in which your business might benefit from being present.
Considering that Google estimates that around 20% of their searches may have some local intent, whatever amount of local searches happening on the following sites likely have some amount that would be relevant for your business.
Five Search Engines To Target For Local
1. Twitter Search
Have you even noticed that Twitter has a search feature? Perhaps not. But, if you search for local businesses in it, you can sometimes find the ones which are more engaged with their customers.
To optimize for local searches in Twitter, be sure to set your company profile’s Location in it, using the city name and state. Don’t use geocoordinates for this field! While it might seem clever, it’s not human-friendly, and it likely wouldn’t be relevant for keyword/location search in Twitter.
Also, enable the “Tweet Location” to be added to your Tweets, and describe your business succinctly in the Description. Since a large component of Twitter’s search results page contains freshest Tweets, you should also frequently and consistently be Tweeting about your product/service topics, industry mentions in the news, pics of your products and store, and things of interest happening in your area.
Finally, you also need to develop increasing numbers of followers and interact with them to beef up how often your updates are retweeted to show that you have a level of influence. See also my earlier article, Harness The Power Of Twitter For Local Marketing.
2. Facebook Search
Facebook has become an extremely sticky portal, with consumers spending considerable time in it every day. So, it’s only natural to assume that they might also be conducting increasing amounts of searches from the ubiquitous search box at the tops of the site’s pages, and Facebook has quietly beefed-up their search results to where they’re becoming more and more useful, including Facebook’s local search results.
If you’re a local business, you may already be appearing in Facebook’s local results and have not even realized it, since Facebook has been displaying business listing locations from data providers for some years now. There are a couple of ways (primarily) for local businesses to integrate with Facebook.
If you’re already there under Facebook Places, you could claim your listing, add/correct your business categories, add your website/phone/email and hours of operation. And/or, you can “Create A Page” about your business, and customize it with all the pertinent information.
As with Twitter, you should also expect to need to consistently update the information consistently, add friends, and interact with your followers to demonstrate influence and engagement (which are vital to improving rankings in Facebook). What’s different is that Facebook Places also has a checkin service for mobile users, and the numbers and frequency of checkins may also be influential on rankings.
Note that having a picture avatar associated with your place may also influence rankings. For more advanced users, see my earlier article on how to leverage Open Graph markup for local SEO.
3. Foursquare Search
Did you know you can search for businesses on Foursquare’s website? While socializing through checkins may be their main feature, the data they’re compiling is also making for a really strong local search engine. Businesses that claim their listing on Foursquare can customize it by adding categories, websites, and Twitter handles.
To further optimize, you need larger numbers of checkins than your competitors, get added to users’ lists, and it may be that paying Foursquare to offer a checkin special could also give your ranking a bump.
Finally, you also ideally want users to submit photos and tips for your place as well. See also my previous article exploring whether local check-ins are a local ranking factor.
4. LinkedIn Company Search
If you feel like your business type doesn’t lend itself to the sorts of searches likely to be conducted in Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, you might consider LinkedIn. LinkedIn is particularly suited for people who are searching for B2B providers, as well as for other professional services companies.
LinkedIn can be tricky to optimize for — you should set up a page for your company, upload a logo, add your website and specialties, your industry type, year founded, and your main address. Another big component involves encouraging all of your employees to set up profile pages on LinkedIn too, and getting them to associate their current job positions with your company’s listing.
The total number of employees with profiles on LinkedIn for a company may be a ranking factor — while that’s hard for you to control, it just reinforces the fact that you should encourage employees to join LinkedIn and associate their job history with your company.
For related tactics, see my article on how to leverage your employees for local search rankings.
5. Pinterest Search
This image sharing site is growing its audience phenomenally each day, and it’s reached the point where the overall traffic is potentially quite advantageous for marketers.
As such, I expect Pinterest’s search engine is getting more and more use, including by people who might search for your type of business (see my example of local Wedding Photographer search results, below).
To optimize for Pinterest, your business’s products/services would need to lend themselves to photographs, or your business location should be photo-worthy. But it’s not altogether necessary to meet those qualifications, you could report on local events via your Boards and Pins, and you can post all sorts of photos related to your area and your company. Optimizing Boards and Pins is fairly simple — include your local keywords, link to your business, and describe what you’re posting.
Finally, you should interact with Pinterest’s community, commenting on other’s photos, repinning them, and posting to public Boards. For more details, read my article on how to use Pinterest for Local SEO.
One thing you’ll notice in the search engines I selected above is that they all have a very strong social component. As these social sites and services gain a large enough market share, it’s important for businesses to pay attention to the volume of searches which may be conducted within those channels, including localized searches, and look for ways to make your business relevant in those platforms for those who may be seeking your products and services.
Considering how your business’s rankings in the search results in these sites can sometimes also influence your rankings in Google, local search optimization must now include some of the more specialized factors which can affect rankings in these specialized search engines — it’s no longer merely a matter of getting exposure for your website’s links and inputting your local citation “NAP” (Name, Address, and Phone number).
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.