Get Me On The Map – Get Your Health Coach Biz Listed In Local Search
Get Me On The Map
In the last year it seems like Google has totally changed the way it is delivering local search results. If they think that you are searching for a local service, they will deliver 3-7 local search results along with a map. Three first page spaces for the term “Health Coach” will make it difficult to get on the first page in such competitive markets as New York City, but in other areas of the country there is not nearly this level of competition.
Hopefully as the term “Health Coach” catches on (and I think it will), and more people start searching for it, search engines such as google, yahoo and bing will put more results on the first page, making it easier to get your health coach business listed locally.
In the meantime, get a little more creative. What other services do you offer that the search engines would consider a local service. Weight Loss is the first one I thought of and imagine my suprise, 7 local listings on the first page of google. Some other ones that will apply to different people may be: massage, yoga, chiropractor and life coach.
This seems to be the direction the search engines are going in, targeting local searches. I expect to see as many changes in the upcoming year as there have been in the past year, which really makes this an exciting topic to me. Imagine if someone who is looking to lose weight finds a holistic health coach as they are searching online instead of one of the “weight loss” factories, what an impact on their quality of life.
Step 1 – Claim or Create A Google Places Page
Google went ahead and created a places page (website), for any business they could find. This means that if you have previously had a local business listed online, there is a good chance you already have a google places page. Simply go to http://www.google.com/local/add and sign in with your google account. When you go to add a listing it will ask you for a phone number. Put in your business phone number and if there is a places page already built, you will be able to go through the process of claiming it. This will mean verifying to google that your are the owner of the business. They will send you a postcard with a PIN number to let you claim your page. There are several fields that need to be filled out. Initially, the most important thing in online search is to make sure that the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) of your business match EXACTLY across all platforms.
There is an option to not show your address. I have not done enough testing yet to see what affect this has on your ranking. Google places lets you pick up to 5 categories under which your business should be listed, use all 5. This, along with the business description is how they decide what searches you should show up on. It is different from traditional search engine optimization (SEO), where you can optimize for any keyword you want.
Step 2 – Claim or Create A Yahoo Local Page
While google is the biggest game in town, don’t overlook the other search engines. Yahoo is the second biggest and you can create or claim a page at http://listings.local.yahoo.com/. Don’t forget NAP, lots of people goof up and put a comma or period in one name and not another. Another trick many marketers do is to put in different tracking phone numbers on different websites. Don’t do this in the local search engines, it will only cause you headaches down the road.
An important field to fill out in most of the local listing directories is the category in which your business should be listed. Health Coach will not come up as a category, but you can enter it in manually in many of the listing directories. Make sure to use at least 1 or 2 categories that they suggest.
A basic listing is free and allows you to display your address, phone number and website URL. You can also list your business in up to 5 categories and list your products and services.
An enhanced listing on yahoo costs an additional $9.95 per month and I doubt that it is worth it for many people. On top of the basic listing you get the ability to add a description, your logo and tagline, up to 10 photos and coupons.
Step 3 – Claim or Create A Bing Local Page
Starting to feel monotonous? Bing is not nearly as large as google, but it is owned by Microsoft, so I would never count them out. This is the default search engine that comes with internet explorer on most new PC’s. Go to http://www.bing.com/businessportal/ to fill out your business information.
All of these sites allow you to create some sort of “deal” or coupon. Bing and Google both offer all of their local search features for free, so I would definitely have some sort of deal / coupon on each of them.
Step 4 – Other Local Search Directories
There are lots of other local search directories online. Some are well known like Yelp, Four Square and City Search, but there are literally hundreds of different sites out there. One of the main advantages of listing on sites like this is that they are considered a “citation” site, which is one of the factors google uses in ranking places pages. This means that everything else being equal, the business with more citations will have a higher ranking in google places.
Facebook has just started merging their places pages and fan pages for local businesses. They are not that popular yet, but given how many people are on facebook I imagine this service will only grow over time.
Step 4 – Getting Reviews
Another important factor in local search is reviews. Almost every local listing site will allow customers to post reviews. You already see this heavily used in restaurants, but I predict as time goes on and local search becomes more and more prevalent, reviews will be important in any service industry.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, the google places pages were aggregating reviews from many other pages and putting them there. They stopped this, but are still using the amount of reviews as a criteria for ranking.
Google places does not start placing stars under your reviews until you reach 5 reviews, so this is the place to start getting reviews. Warning, these must all be from real clients and don’t get too many too fast or google will not show them since they will assume that they are spam. The number I have heard is to get around 8 to 12 reviews per month. Just email some of your previous clients after your google places page is running and ask them if they would write a review for you.
If you are offering local services, this is probably going to be the easiest way to get found online in your local area. Start out by creating a local listing on Google Places, Yahoo, and Bing. Start getting reviews, starting out by getting 5 reviews on google places and then spread them out on other networks.
By Geoff Young