Local Search listing is very important to any store (both online and brick and mortar stores). According to comScore, 78% of shoppers who search locally on their handsets end up making a purchase, 70% of them within one hour from searching.
This type of searching is dubbed ‘Local Search‘. It’s a common term used to reflect when a user searches online for an exact place or a city name, and usually gets search-results related to that location.
Let’s assume that your physical store is situated in New York City. Obviously you’ll want anyone in New York searching online for services and products similar to yours to have your store’s address showing up among the first search results, but how do you achieve that?
Among the many possible ways, you need to add your store to the many online mapping services and lists offered by major providers. Doing so will get you free traffic, enhance your SEO authority, and eventually increase your sales.
It won’t over night though, and it takes some time to bear fruit. Still, it’s a front you can not leave vacant for competitors to fill. Every store needs to be on the search engines maps.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ve only picked the top four Local Search providers, and they are: Google Places For Business, Yahoo! Local, MapQuest and Bing Business Portal. Please note that most of those four support only the US for the time being.
1 – Google Places For Business
The king of Local Search Maps, Places For Business, aims mainly to help whoever ‘googles’ for a local business, by showing results supported with photos (shot by a Google verified photographer) and videos, brands, categories, exact map location, working hours, etc.
It does this by creating local listings, provided by business and online stores owners. (Places does not support all countries yet! Check the list here.)
To add your store to Google Places (Link), you’ll obviously need a Google account, and to choose between 2 plans: Free and Paid.
The Free plan pretty much gives you everything, while the paid plan allows for 2 extra services; AdWords Express and Google Offers which pushes coupons to your customers whenever they’re in close proximity of your online store’ location.
Please note that you must make 100% sure to provide accurate data. Select the correct available option, closet possible to the type of business you are in. Following Google’s guideline by heart will result in a quick successful submission.
After filling in all the needed information about your online store, you”ll be then asked to verify your data. (If your online store was already listed, you can Edit it easily.)
You’ll be sent a PIN code (unique personal identification number along with activation instructions), either to your mobile phone or to your business address (via a post card that takes 2-3 weeks to arrive). Once verified, your online store will show up on the map.
Needless to say that getting verified by Google is enough to boost your store to the first page of Google’s local business listings.
2 — MapQuest
The second important type of Local Search Maps is MapQuest. It’s very similar to Google Maps, albeit with more ads shown, and outdated satellite imagery.
Nevertheless, millions still use MapQuest services, and they offer free business listings which you need to grab.
Please note that at the time of writing those lines, MapQuest supported only the US and Canada.
To start, you need a MapQuest Merchant Account, which you can create for free (Link).
Afterwards, you need to verify your MapQuest account. While in the UK, it took more than one hour before the email arrived in subscriber’s inbox for email-verification.
Clicking on the verification link will bring you to a page to enter your password. Next it’s time to fill out your store information. You can add any info about your business, upload a logo, online store link, products description, etc.
For verification, you can choose to either use a phone call or a credit card. Verification can take up to 30 business days.
You can get instant verification by switching to the premium service in return for paying $8.25 per month.
3 – Bing Places
Bing Places supports only the US, and is not available elsewhere. Bing is claimed to be the third largest search engine in the US, so if you have a presence in the US, it’s worthy of your time to add your online store there.
Bing Places does a good job when you need to add your business in bulk. Bing Places is Microsoft’s answer to Google Places, and it tries to provide the same -more or less, as Places.
Start by adding your business here (Link) or claim it if Bing already has it. You shall need a Microsoft account to add your business.
Basic info required includes (Address, Phone Number, Location, etc.) then you’ll proceed to verify your store’s listing.
This time around, it’s not that easy, as you’ll need to do so via snail mail, which takes from 3 to 5 days.
4 – Yahoo! Local
Same as Bing Places, Yahoo! Local is available to US-based businesses only.
For starter, Yahoo! Local has 3 basic plans: “Enhanced Listing”, “Localworks” and “Basic Listing”.
Basic Listing (Link) is 100% free while Enhanced and Localworks cost $9.95/mo. and 49.99$/mo respectively.
The Free Plan is decent enough, allowing you to list your phone number, opening hours, address, website etc.
You need a Yahoo account to add your online store, after which you’ll be required to verify your data.
Once you manage to list your store on Local Search lists, it’s then time to ask your clients and customers to review your business / store / online store. Pages that have more customer reviews (whether positive or negative) will receive more authority and rank highly on local search engine results.
Would Local Search help an online store only?
When you sell ONLY online, it’s doesn’t matter where you customer is situated, as long as your shipping service supports that buyer’s location.
But to rank higher on search results, you need any boost you can get. Listing you home address for your online store, or whatever address you registered your business at.
When you have clients near to your address buying from your online store, you can always go the extra mile and offer those buyers more perks, deliver to them yourself, drop the shipping cost completely, etc.
Majority of the services listed here offer free listing. You have nothing to lose. If you run an e-commerce business, list it on Local Search lists, you have nothing to lose.
Play your cards right.
Read also: How To Create Your Online Store With Shopify