Local enhanced listings
Google's "local enhanced listings" is a paid service at $25 a month that allows a business to stand out with an enhanced presence in the Google SERPs. Local businesses can highlight important elements such as those listed below and make unlimited changes at no additional charge:
- Product and service photos
- Company videos
- Primary website
- Coupons and sales pages
- Physical directions via Google Maps
Adding a free company logo, photos of your establishment, products, and even photos of your team are all very helpful for searchers. The more your local listing gives them to understand and trust your business, the more likely they will be comfortable choosing it offline.
Business owners can create a coupon in Google Places with all the necessary information: headline, details, "good until" date, etc. This is a great way to create a call-to-action and to provide customers and prospects with an incentive to visit your establishment.
Google Places ads (paid)
While your Google Places listing is free, Google also offers locally targeted advertising through its AdWords program. Just sign in to your account, and then you can create your ads and choose your keywords. Once your ad goes live, when users searching on Google enter one of your keywords, your ad might appear next to the search results. You'll be advertising to an audience that is interested in your offerings as Google uses contextual targeting technology to automatically match your ads to web pages in its display network that are most relevant to your business. People can click your ad and make a purchase or learn more about your company. Google provides placement performance reports that show you where all your ads appear. You can review your ads' performance on a site-by-site basis to see impressions, clicks, cost, and conversion data, subsequently using this data to identify the best performing sites for more aggressive targeting and the lower-performing sites for exclusion.
Changes to Google's local listings
Google implemented some serious changes to Google Places listings. For one, the layout is now cleaner and has more usability. It's easier to upload photos, submit reviews, and share experiences with other users. Google has removed some specific listing details from public view (due to spamming); however, it hasn't done away with the valuable information businesses provide. Google still uses that information to understand more about particular businesses and how relevant your listing may be for specific search queries.
Another change in Google Places listings was the removal of review snippets from third-party sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and CitySearch. Google removed these snippets (as well as citations) to avoid complications associated with third-party website reviews. Google had showcased these third-party reviews for some time, but while Google was able to benefit, the other sites lost out. These websites were providing Google with a ton of reviews but weren't receiving any form of compensation or website traffic.
In order to get more reviews, Google now has its own section for reviews and is focusing attention on getting users to write reviews. The new place page displays several bold and prominent "write a review" buttons in various locations.
Yahoo's free local listings
Yahoo used to own the local search market a few years ago, but its market share has been going down since the partnership with Bing, as Bing has effectively taken over Yahoo's search engine business. Since the partnership, almost all of Yahoo's users worldwide are continuing to use the familiar interface, but with actual results powered by Bing's search engine. Take the following steps to establish your Yahoo local listing:
- Create a Yahoo account for your company.
- Go to Yahoo Search Marketing, and click "sign up" to list your business.
- Input all business details: name, address, phone number, website, hours, products and services, payment options, details, etc.
- After reviewing all of your business information for completeness and accuracy, the preview page will show two options: edit and submit. Click "submit" if all the information is correct, or "edit" if you need to make changes.
Yahoo's enhanced local listing
For $9.95 per month, businesses can sign up for Yahoo's enhanced local listings. The basic listing includes phone number, address, website, store hours, products, and services. The enhanced listing includes everything from the basic listing with the addition of a company logo and tagline, up to 10 photographs, coupons for customers, and more space for a detailed description. This would be the perfect place to utilize more keywords to increase the visibility of your listing. This page lists the difference between basic and enhanced listings.
Yahoo's local business ads (paid)
Pricing varies by industry and by geographic location. You can get detailed information from Yahoo Advertising Solutions.
Bing Business Portal (beta) free local listing
Bing-powered search (combined market share of Yahoo and Bing) reached 30 percent in March, and more people are searching on Bing to find businesses and services in their local area. You'll want to get a business listing on Bing local to increase your visibility and get more traffic to your site. Take the following steps to establish your Bing local listing:
- Go to the Bing Business Portal and click "get started now."
- When prompted, enter your business information to see if Bing already has your listing.
- Fill in all necessary fields of information for your business, in the same manner as for Google and Yahoo.
- Verify your account.
A Bing local listing is a page showing your business details. Local listings are found on the "local" tab of the Bing search results from a computer browser, or at http://m.bing.com/ on a mobile phone. Bing allows businesses to add photos and deals (Bing's term for coupons) for free.