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Optimizing Google OneBox and Yahoo! Shortcut Local Listings
If you have a site you want to optimize for local searches, you generally want the site to appear in the web search local listing (Google Onebox or Yahoo! shortcut). Creating a page for your local listing could be a determining factor in your listing’s appearance. Below, an easy four step guide to creating a great, complementary page for your local listing.
Step 1: complementary content
Of course we all know that content is king, but for local, consistent content is king. Keep your optimized business description content as similar across all listings and potential “web references” as possible. Google only allows you to insert a 120 character description in your listing so you will want to consider including an excerpt or short version of the description that will be on your website. Yahoo! Local makes you pay for an Enhanced Listing ($9.95 per month) to be able to add a description and it is well worth it.
Step 2: address and phone number
Whether you have only one location or multiple locations, when you are linking to a page from your local listing it is great for that page to have the address phone number of that location located on that page, preferably in hCard format. This may help the engines associate these pages with the listings and influence display of a “plus box” underneath the page in natural results as shown below.
Step 3: link to potential web references
The Google Local algorithm is different from the PageRank algorithm used for web results. It appears to me that the Local algorithm relies more on how often a business is referenced around the web instead of on links. You want to make it easy for Google to find these references for your business. We know that Google and Yahoo! Local both crawl the pages of the URL placed in the listing and take that into account for ranking. My research seems to indicate that Google follows outbound links on that page as well and sees if they can associate that page as a web reference with the listing. A nice trick is to link to your Yahoo! Local Listing and/or a YouTube video about your company if you have one and also anchor text the link with a key phrase you would like to rank for. You will not only benefit from potential natural rankings of these pages but your local listing will benefit from these pages being counted as web references as you can see below.
Step 4: title tag
Yes, we have all heard it before, use keywords in title tag. This is equally, if not more important when it comes to the landing page URL of your local listing. This page will no doubt become a web reference for your local listing. What has become obvious in my research through thousands of local listings is that the title tag of the web reference plays a factor in how much weight or authority is placed in the reference. Think of this as the difference between a PR 1 link and a PR 4 link. Although there are many other factors that go along with the ranking impact of each web reference, this is one of the major ones.
So there you have it, follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to a Google Onebox result in no time, or a Yahoo! Shortcut. I would also recommend making a page for each location the business has and add the URL for the appropriate local listing.
Stephen Espinosa is a Local Search Expert and the world’s biggest Chicago white sox fan. He writes regularly at www.StephenEspinosa.com. He and his dog Carl live in Winchester, CA with his wife Stephanie. The Locals Only column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.