Local SEO and Directory Listings: Best Practices

As a Product Manager for Mediative, there is one question that comes up a lot in meetings with our clients: what are the rules to submiting a business listing on yp.ca? 

Working with clients who have multiple locations all over the country, we see how important it is to implement local search best practices to ensure local businesses are getting the right visibility.

There have been many situations where a local business or dealer would like to add a little vanity touch to their business listing name on Yellow Pages. The agencies were happy to oblige; however this seemingly small adjustment can have a negative impact in terms of the online search visibility for this business. Directory listings, citations, and the accuracy of business name, address, and phone number are highly influential to search engine optimization.

Local search is becoming more and more important

The rise of tablet and smartphone usage allowing people to search on-the-go has enabled local business listings to be easily found, generate steady traffic, and increase sales.

In 2012, smartphone penetration reached more than 50% of all Canadian mobile phones in use. Now, nearly 13.4 million Canadians use their mobile phones to interact with local business content.

  • 73% of smartphone owners use their browser every day; 1 in 2 mobile phone users are interested in location based marketing content, making it the #1 activity on mobile browsers.
  • The top reason for using mobile phones for local search is because information is needed that is relevant to where and when people are searching.
  • Tablet searchers are becoming more demanding of the depth of local content. They are more likely than PC/Laptop and mobile phone searchers to use consumer ratings/reviews.
  • Most use apps to interact with local content on a mobile platform – map based apps are the most popular.

Source: comScore 2013 Canada Future in Focus Report

In Canada, the impact of the Yellow Pages directory on the local listing ecosystem is major.

Yellow Pages is a listing hub for almost every player in the local search world in Canada. That is why the accuracy of the directory listing has become more and more important for local SEO.

 

Accurate information on directories improves your SEO reputation

When the address on the website matches the address on the verified citation site pages (yp.ca business profile page), Google sees the business as a trustworthy one and ranks it accordingly. When you put a category next to the business listing, yp.ca provides the search engine with the category data, helping it understand which search terms to associate with the business site. These terms, located in the “At a glance” section on Google Places listings, are a distillation of all the information that Google can find about a business, in as few words as possible. They can be from reviews, web pages, articles — from just about any content on the web. The algorithm tries to select a good description for each place, leaning towards what is interesting, specific, and unique.

Best practices for optimization your business listing information:

According to Yellow Pages, this is the recommended type of data that businesses should have online:

1. Remember NAP – The acronym for Name, Address and Phone number. The entire local ecosystem uses these basic identifiers to keep track of the business listing and identity.

  • A business name, a phone number, an address and a domain – all that never change are at the core of a SMBs online identity.
  • These elements are the glue that influences your brand awareness. Pick them well and make every effort to retain them forever.
  • Name, address and phone number must be consistent across publisher’s sites including the exact name iteration of a display name. Ex: Walmart and Wal-Mart.
  • Changing them, for whatever reason, risks confusing the many directories and search engines that are tracking the specific business location. This behaviour can also confuse the customer.

2. Business name should reflect the name registered to the various government agencies.

  • The name you put in front of your store (street view) should be the same one on this list.
  • Additional information to the name such as a URL, a region, or a set of keywords for SEO optimization are not recommended by Yellow Pages as they will create duplicates.
  • Vanity names will create duplicates. All this content can be added in a business profile page that the Canadian directory is providing.

3. The Address – this information will be published online based on Canada Post standards.

  • The address should be written in full without any abbreviation and in English.
  • A full address should have a civic address, street name, and street type.
  • Direction information such as unit, suite, PO box, etc. should be avoided.
  • This address should reflect where your customer can get the service and not an administrative office.
  • Vanity addresses will be refused.
  • Use the official full city name without abbreviation. For Quebec, do not use French accents.
  • Province/ State information will be published online under two characters acronyms (eg: ON, QC, BC)
  • For postal codes do not use any spaces.

4. Phone Number is mandatory, as this information will be published online.

  • 1-800 # do not bring a lot of value to local customers.
  • If you decide to use call tracking numbers, be sure to notify the publisher, otherwise you are going to generate duplications on yp.ca and Google+ pages.
  • Use 10 digits only (no spaces, dashes, no brackets, etc.)
  • Vanity numbers will be refused.

5. URL – it is advisable to have one URL for each location.

  • Do not use tracking URLs or social URLs as they will not bring SEO value to your local page.

6. Hours of Operation and Services – with more and more traffic going mobile, hours of operation are one of the first things users are looking for.

7. Business Category and Description – this text is rich on keywords that will make the listing more agile on search.

  • Put the main message at the beginning of your business description and separate everything with a semi-colon. Only the main message is guaranteed to be published in Yellow Pages category tabs.

8. Photos and Videos – according to a Yellow Pages study a business listing can get up to 30% more clicks and calls by adding a video as content¹.

 As of last year, Google gives better organic ranking to YP local listings results when people perform searches with a local intent. According to a Local Search Study conducted by Comscore², it is all related to consumer usage and preference. Consumer’s satisfaction with search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing declined in 2012 when it came to local search, while Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) gained. With the Penguin 2.0 release, we saw Google giving more and more view to YP local listings when it comes to specific categories like plumbers or lawyers.

This does not mean that we need to completely shift from one to the other; rather it shows that IYP has an important impact when added to a local marketing strategy. Do it right, and your business profile will shine.

 

Sources:
¹ YP Value Story 2012
² Clickz: Are we Seeing the Resurgence of Internet Yellow Pages (May 2013)

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