Local Search: Fish Where The Other Fishermen Aren’t
Most businesses tend to focus on the big channels when it comes to local SEO efforts. While it makes sense to optimize your Google Place Page and pay attention to your presence on other big local search services (e.g. Bing Local, CityGrid, DexKnows, Insider pages, Local.com, Merchant circle, Superpages, Yahoo Local, Yellow book, Yelp, YP.com, etc.), because of the fragmented nature of local search, there are plenty of other services that generate great local traffic and can provide you with SEO benefits. Here’s a brief overview of some “off the grid” opportunities.
Facebook Places. So Facebook may not be so “off-the-grid” at the moment, but Facebook Place pages still are. While millions of businesses have already created Facebook Pages that does not necessarily mean that your business is included in Facebook Places’ mobile check-in feature. Every business should make sure that they have both a Facebook page with complete business info and that they also have a Facebook Places page. Here is some info on Facebook Pages and Facebook Place pages.
Twitter Places. Twitter also has a version of Places. It’s pretty hard to find, but if you send a tweet you have the option of adding your location. If you click the “from <your location>” link below the tweet box, you’ll get a list of nearby points of interest and businesses. You can’t do anything with this data at the moment but Twitter has been reported as testing a “claim” your business feature so I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next six months places become a much more important part of the Twitter experience. For now Twitter is using Localeze as its main business listing data supplier, so be sure to update your info at Localeze. You’ll get the added benefit of having your business info up-to-date everywhere Localeze distributes its data.
Location-based services. Like Facebook and Twitter Places, there are a number of services that provide the ability for mobile users to “check-in.” Foursquare and Gowalla are two of the big names in the space. Each of these services also provides a profile page for businesses on their web sites. The data sets on these location-based services seems to be pretty spotty, so adding and/or updating your business listing on these services can be helpful to getting found on these services as well as generating SEO benefits from their sites (citations, backlinks, etc.).
Get To Know The Local Search Sites You’ve Probably Never Heard of
There are thousands of local directories out there covering every city and most niches. Often times these sites get just as much traffic in a particular local query as the big guys, and they are usually a lot easier to work with. I have found that putting a little effort into some of the larger smaller players can yield some great benefits. And if you have money to spend, they are usually much more approachable about doing customized ad deals. For example, a dentist in Houston could probably buy premium placements on all of these sites combined for less than it costs to run similar ads on just one of the bigger sites. So claim your place page on these sites and see if you can get some extra traffic:
- BOTW Local
- Intuit’s Business Directory
- Kudzu LocalLife
- WhitePages.com Business Search
There are plenty more of these, but I think the above list likely represents at least 10-20 million monthly local queries.
And since mobile is pretty hot right now I also recommend checking out Avantar. These guys created one of the first yellow pages iPhone apps. According to the Wall Street Journal, Avantar’s app serves over 5 million queries/month. Not too shabby. And since they are not a premium yellow pages/local search brand, I imagine there are a lot of opportunities to work with them to find traffic on their service.
As with all marketing efforts, you should focus on those niches and services that provide the best ROI, but I have found that with local search, fishing where the rest of the fishermen aren’t can pay off.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.