Local search. It drives online success and can be a big miss if not properly executed. The search engines heavily favor local businesses in an effort to provide quality results. Your restaurant might never rank for ‘pizza’ in an organic search but if you have a restaurant with proper local listings completed, you might find yourself on page 1. If you’re a small business, with a physical address, you need to be found.

You may know about the local listings in search engines but what about the free directories that offer results? Learn more about how they work and where you should be represented (subscribe to the free UpCity Daily Tips newsletter for more tips on taking advantage of local search).

Can you be found?

Before you set out to create and claim your accounts, take stock of what you already have. Our Local Report Card quickly assesses your profile and tells you what needs work. Try it…it’s fast, fun, and free!

Search Engine Local Listings

These are not on the list because we write about the importance of them so often. But, you’re missing a huge opportunity if you have yet completed your Google+ Business page, Bing Local Business, or Yahoo! local page yet. This is a huge advantage for SEO. The more places you are listed, the better. See also Top 20 Search Experts for advice on mastering your local presence.

The Secret to Local Listings

Keep it the same! Do not vary your address, phone number or business name. Even a slight variation in spelling (i.e. Ave. vs Avenue, or Street vs St.) cause duplications of your business. Create a separate document that lists each of these ‘local profile listings’, then copy/paste each time you fill out a new profile. This will maintain a consistency and save you time trying to clean up a mess later. Important listing information includes:

  • company name
  • address (include state and zipcode )
  • phone
  • business profile

How Local Directories Work

Local directory listings spider results across the we from a variety of listing including Google, Bing, and others. They aggregate these and serve up results depending on search. This is where the consistency in listings help. The spiders only read data and can’t assess the variations in company names to know they are the same thing.

Just a short while ago, free local directories were a dime a dozen and the quality of listings not great. Search engines have gotten smarter over the years and ‘spammy’ type directories don’t rank well on search. However, there are still a few very important free directories around that are worth your effort.

Free Directories That Matter

  1. Yelp
  2. Yellow Pages
  3. Merchant Circle
  4. Manta
  5. CitySearch

Premium Accounts Always Help

If you have a few extra dollars in the budget, an upgrade to a paid/premium account never hurts. Local expert Andrew Shotland provides his 2012 best local directory list, these are not necessarily free but worth the investment.

If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to miss out. Get found with local listings across the web.