The local listings in Google + Bing are becoming more competitive sector by sector and for some local businesses on the web, even tactics like competitive citation analysis and tools like Whitespark’s awesome local citation finder aren’t enough. Here, then, are five more unique and useful ways to boost the visibility of your local site on the web, earn more Places citations + reviews and potentially appear in even the most competitive local SERPs.
#1 – Discussion Search + Local Keywords
Google’s “discussion search” feature is underutilized in general, but I was surprised when browsing the recommendations of other citation-focused threads to see that it hadn’t ever been mentioned! Watch how easy it is:
The discussions not only lead you to sites where listings are often possible, but they also give a great opening to mention or promote your business (just make sure you do it authentically + transparently). It’s also a tremendous source of competitive intelligence and goes deeper than the usual reviews in terms of researching what customers and potential customers want and why they might be choosing other businesses.
#2 – Image Results for Competitors’ Business Names
Another great vertical for finding opportunities is the image search results. A variety of query types function here, but a few of the ones that I like include:
- Names of competitors’ businesses
- Cityname + business type/category
- Products/services you offer + cityname
- Both of the above w/ neighborhood names (rather than citynames)
Here’s an example of the potential value:
Note that hovering on an image shows its location, which can help you quickly determine if the source is one you’ve already got, or something new and worth investigation. Sources that show local images have a surprisingly good crossover with possible listing opportunities.
#3 – Events Calendars, Sponsorships + Donations
Google Places’ list of sources (and Bing Maps’ too) are pulling from more and more obscure pages and sites that have little to do with simply listing local businesses. It seems as though any sites that regularly mention or link to local businesses and include address/phone info and descriptions become sources for discovery, and possibly rankings, too. They may not have the trusted feed or the same direct effect, but it appears that in some competiive SERPs, they’re making the difference (NOTE: If you know lots more about Places rankings than I and have tested this, please do leave a comment).
To find these opportunities is, thankfully, not that hard. Here’s a few searches to get you started (just replace the cityname or business type with your own):
From there, you can expand, get creative and likely build some serious citation power.
#4 – Social Profiles w/ a Local Focus
Given the expansion of data sources/types that Google’s using, social profiles, where you can often add information about your business including name/address/phone/site/etc. make a lot of sense. Here’s an example:
Sites like Formspring, About.me, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, Hunch, OpenForum, Slideshare, etc. all offer potential, and you can likely find many more.
#5 – Cityname + Business Type + Listings/Businesses/Results
These are simple searches to perform, but again, I didn’t see them mentioned in my review of many recommendations-style posts. An example:
Using this sample query
The idea is simply to find places that you might not have discovered through competitive analysis, either because your competitors aren’t there or because Google’s not showing them in the “more about this place” or “reviews from around the web” sets. In the former case, they’re definitely worth nabbing, in the latter case, it’s a less sure ROI, but potentially worth the effort, particularly if you’ve already exhausted the other opportunities.
If you have great recommendations for earning Google Places / Maps / Local citations, please do add them in the comments! I’ll be among those handing out the thumbs up 🙂