Feb 7, 2011

Quality Guidelines for Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local

Google Places, Bing and Yahoo Local bring potential customers to your local businesses.  Getting local listings on these services should be your first step in your Local SEO Strategy and this work will immediately start driving customers to your business.   Here are some best practices when placing your listings.

Business Ownership Verification:
Only business owners or authorized representatives should verify their business listings on each of the local listings within Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Use a Shared Email Account under your domain: 
Use a shared email account if multiple users will be updating your business listing. If possible, use an email account under your business domain. For example, if your business website is www.gAdviser.com, a matching email address would be you@gAdviser.com.  If you need help with a custom domain or Google Apps Setup, just let me know.

Your Business Listing
Your Business Name should represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world.  Do not include marketing taglines in your business name.  Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name field, unless they are part of your business name.  Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business in the business name field.  

Business Locaion
For your business location use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location.  Don't try and spoof Google Places, Bing or Yahoo with fake addresses, it annoys them and your customers.  In other words do not create listings at locations where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations.  In most cases business listings submitted with a P.O. Box address will be removed.  Use your precise business address with a street number and street name.  Try not to use broad city names or cross-streets.  Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.

Other Business Location Infomation
Businesses that operate in a service area, as opposed to a single location, should not create a listing for every city they service. Businesses that operate in a service area should create one listing for the central office or location and designate service areas.  Do not include information in address lines that does not pertain your business's physical location (e.g. URLs, keywords).

Service or Specialty Guidelines
Businesses with multiple specializations, such as law firms and doctors, should not create multiple listings to cover all of their specialties. Google allows you to create one listing per practitioner, and one listing for the office.  Probably a best practice that should also be followed in Bing and Yahoo.

Website and Phone 
Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location and provide one website that represents your individual business location.  Use a local phone number instead of a call center number whenever possible.  Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or "refer" users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business.

Provide at least one category from the suggestions provided in the form as you type.   Ideally pick categories that are specific to your business.  Make them short and as brief as possible.  Categories should say what your business is (e.g. Chinese Restaurant), not on what it does (e.g. Cook Food, Take-out) or things it sells (e.g. Won Ton Soup or Egg Rolls).  This information can be added in your description or as custom attributes.  Categories should also not contain location-based information (for example, Google Apps Consulting in Detroit).  For Google Places, only one category is permitted per entry field. Do not "stuff" entry fields with multiple categories.

If you would like me to create your Google Places, Bing Local or Yahoo Local, just give me a call or visit www.gAdiser.com