I'm number #1 - well, after the first 10 results! That's a statement that plagues many agents who appear at the "top" of the search engines. That's because for so many local based searches, Google first shows the local "7-pack."
Suddenly, being "#1" organically means your site doesn't show up until half way down the page of the search results. With this in mind, I thought I would give some quick tips on how to ensure you show up at the true top of the page.
Now I'm sure most everyone knows about Google Local (or Google Places as they now call it). But to really optimize for the local results you have to take a step further.
Want to Rank Well for the Big 3 Search Engines?
Then Pay Attention to the "Other" Big 3
Most searches happen on either Google, Yahoo or Bing. But these search engines actually rely on other companies for their local data. Localeze, infoUSA, and Acxiom are the backbone of the entire local search ecosystem. Basically, they're some of the most important sites that you have never heard of! Just take a look at the graphic below. It shows just how important they are to Google, Yahoo and Bing’s local search results.
Now that you know who really powers the Local Ecosystem, let's look at a few optimization tips to ensure you show up for the infamous "7 Pack"
Google Local Optimization Tips
Step 1: Get Listed!
The first step is to ensure you are listed in the local search engines. Fortunately, the "trickle down" approach of the local ecosystem means that you'll only really need to list your business with these top 3 providers - Localeze, InfoUSA, and Acxiom. Of course, you will also want to submit your business to Google Places - to help verify Google’s info. Localeze and InfoUSA have online submission forms. Acxion, on the other hand, doesn't allow direct submissions. Instead, you'll need to go through UniversalBusinessListing.org - (note that this is a paid service).
Step 2: Optimize when signing up for these local directories.
You’ll want to follow a few simple optimization tips...
Make it complete!
Incomplete data makes it difficult to verify your business. Ensure your information is complete!
Always reference your business Name in the exact same way - EVERYWHERE!
For example, don’t submit your business name as Joy Rice Realty Group on Localeze then The Joy Rice Team in Google Places. These will be seen as two separate businesses.
Use a local number instead of an 800 number when submitting your business information. This helps Google "localize" you.
Max out the Categories
Google allows you to associate your business with up to 5 categories. Populate all 5!
Use relevant keywords in your description. Don’t just say you’re a real estate agent. Say that your a Plano TX real estate agent
Build Local Link Love!
Get linked up in other local directories (like BBB), Bing Local Listing Center is another great directory and is doing some really cool things with their local business search. Show Google that you focus on the local market.
Instead of sending your sellers an evaluation form, encourage them to leave a reviews on sites like Yelp!
Get Cited "Locally"
Work those relationships with the local media (you ARE following them on Twitter - Right?) Reach out to other local bloggers.
Submit Your Information to Hyperlocal News Sites
Sites like outside.in and topix.net allows you to submit your local content for free. Are you going to get a ton of traffic? Probably not. Is it a no brainier because it's 100% automated? YES!
Need even more tips? Here are few for the "advanced" users...
Maintain a Google Calendar (make it public) and set location information for open Houses, Local Events, etc.
GeoTag your videos and Photos! (YouTube/Flickr)
Create custom Google Maps and link them back to your site. Hoboken Condo agent Walter Burns create a simple Hoboken parking garage map that has received over 1,000 views - Make sure this is under YOUR Google account. If you have a Virtual Assistant this, have them create it under your account.
Don't forget about the contact us page of your site - as well as your footer information. And remember, ensure your address and phone number matches exactly!
I know that some may look at this list and think "This is just too much work." While it does take work, I think the pay off far outweighs the couple of hours it would take to optimize for local results. After all, if someone is looking for real estate in your area, don’t you want to be at the top of the search results?
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