Boosting Business+Profits Online

MerchantCircle Celebrates Registration of Millionth Small Business

MerchantCircle has registered its millionth SMB, Nassau Avenue Nails of Islip, NY. Owner Danielle Biegler found out about MerchantCircle after searching for other local businesses nearby, and will receive a lifetime MerchantCircle tools, cool MerchantCircle gear and a new sign.

The million number represents roughly 6.7 percent of U.S. SMBs. It may not mean much in the context of Merchant Circle’s success, given that some SMBs unintentionally signed up for the service and may not be regular users.

Yet the service has also built an undeniably impressive track record. Its merchants have written nearly 400,000 blog posts using its publishing platform, uploaded 1 million+ photos, and created more than 350,000 local coupons.

On the consumer side, the service, largely relying on search optimization, currently attracts 20 million unique visitors per month, making it akin to a large Internet Yellow Pages. Users have contributed more than 650,000 local business reviews.

Merchant circle is a great directory for small businesses to use in the quest for better Google local business rankings. Citations from Merchant Circle and other authoritative local business directories (superpages, YELP, etc) can help boost Google local rankings as well.

Posted via web from Kym Wong’s posterous

Google Local Business Center

Google has made a significant change to its Local Business Center listings.

As you can see in the image below, instead of displaying the top 10 local business listings, Google is now only showing the top 7.

google local business center

This makes it just that much more difficult for local businesses to show up on the first page of a local business search in competitive markets.

This change also re-emphasizes the importance of optimizing your business listing so that you can improve your business’ local search ranking position.

Make sure you use the appropriate categories and keywords in your local business center descriptions and try and get additional citations from local directories as well.

It looks Google made this change in order to free up real estate on the first page for their new Local Listing Ads service. For a flat monthly fee, Google will display your business ad in the sponsored search section as shown below.

google local listing ad

This service is currently only available in San Francisco and San Diego.

You can learn more about the Google Local Listing Ad service in the video:

Local Internet Marketing – Must Do’s for Business Owners

local-internet-marketingAccording to some statistics, there are over 10 billion searches done each month in the United States and more than 40% of those searches have ‘local intent’.  This means that there are approximately 4 billion internet searches for local businesses and services monthly!

Improving your business’ ranking for local internet searches has therefore become very important.  In a previous post on boosting your local search rankings, I pointed out that at a minimum, business owners should create a listing on Google’s Local Business Center.  This is easy to set up and the service is free.  You can sign up for it here.

In addition to creating a Google Local listing, you should also set up a business listing at Yahoo Local. The process is very similar and its also free.

Microsoft also has its Bing local search engine, so consider creating a listing there as well.

Having multiple listings and additional citations should give your local search rankings a definite boost.

Local Search Ranking – Top 3 Factors for Ranking Well


What are the Key Factors for Boosting Your Local Search Rankings?

Following a previous post on the overall basics of search engine optimization, I thought it might be relevant here to focus on local search rankings. What determines how well a website does in the search results when someone conducts a search related to their city or town?

A recent survey of search engine experts by David Mihm sheds some light on the key factors for ranking well for local searches.  27 experts were asked to rate a total of 49 factors in terms of their importance in determining local search rankings.

The top 3 factors that were ranked as being most significant in positively influencing local rankings were:

1. Having a local business listing within the city of search

If you look at the search results for “online marketing bethesda” in the image above, my company’s local business listing shows up prominently along with the local city map and location. Because Google is placing these local business listings first in the search results (i.e. before showing other web matches), it is critically important that you create your listing using Google’s Local Business Center. This service is free and should absolutely be a ‘must do’ for all business website owners.

2. Being cited by other local portals, associations, or groups

According to the experts surveyed, listing your business with local online directories, portals or associations can also help your local search rankings. Examples of such sites might be infoUSA, Yellow Pages, Yelp, City Search, Merchant Circle and even local chamber directories. These sites usually have high page rank and authority, so creating a listing which links back to your business website should give your rankings a boost.

3. Using proper categories and keywords in your local business listing

When setting up your Google local listing, be sure to select the right category for your business. In addition, inserting the keywords or search phrases that you want to rank for in your business listing (especially in the title) will also improve your search rankings.

The survey goes into negative factors affective search rankings as well. These include negative customer reviews, using an 800 telephone number in your local listing, and having multiple listings with the same business name and phone number. The full survey can be seen here.

Boosting Business+Profits Online