Search Engine Optimization starts with the content on your own website, but it certainly doesn't end there. Google (and all search engines) consider numerous factors when determining how to rank your site across various searches.
One important factor is having other sites link back to you. While you can't control if another blog or business links to you, you can easily create your own powerful links by listing your business with the following useful services.
Yelp is essentially the Yellow Pages of the current Internet era. If you have a storefront then it's imperative to be listed on Yelp, otherwise you're missing out on business from customers who check reviews before they go anywhere or do anything.
It may be a little terrifying to list your business on a third-party site that allows anyone to write up a review based on whatever legitimate or nonsensical reasons they happen to think up. Don't take negative reviews personally (should you ever actually receive any) and remember that even the most popular businesses in the world have detractors. Yelp's highest rated restaurant for 2016 "only" received 4 1/2 stars. You can't please all of the people, all of the time.
Yelp is extremely valuable for SEO because:
- It's an authoritative website that provides third-party verification that your business actually exists and is located in a specific location. This is huge for generic keyword searches like "bakery" or "wedding photographer" as Google usually displays local results when a product or service would likely be provided nearby.
- Apple Maps relies on Yelp to provide business information to all iPhone and iPad users. This by itself is enough reason to create a Yelp listing.
- It provides a secondary result for your site when a potential customer searches you by name. The more search results on a page that point to your business in some way, the more likely people will end up at your site.
- Ready to add your business to Yelp? Go here to do so. It's as simple as filling out the form and clicking "Add Business".
Once you've successfully added it, you'll need to claim it so you can manage the listing and keep it updated. That can be done from this page.
Google My Business
You may not have heard of My Business, but you've very likely used it. Google uses it to provide accurate business information across all the different versions of their Maps apps.
Google has been accused of giving their own services preferential treatment in search results. They deny this to be the case, but look at a "bakery" search for San Francisco. The very first thing displayed is a Google Map with nearby bakeries.
This is followed by Yelp listings and then actual bakeries Google considers most relevant to such a generic search from within SF.
It makes sense to show a map first here, so it's hard to argue that Google is doing anything wrong. Regardless, you should sign up for a My Business account to make sure you're taking advantage of the situation for yourself. This will also add yet another independent verification that your business exists and is located in a specific location.
To sign-up, go to Google My Business and click the Start Now button. If you already have a Google account or Gmail address, you'll login with that and fill out a form. If you don't have one, you'll be asked to create one. This is quick and painless.
Yelp and Google My Business are the most important spots to list your business, but they're not the only places to do so.
Cover all your search engine basics with Bing Places for Business. Since Bing and Yahoo are partnered, this will help your results with both.
Also consider listing with Angie's List, Citysearch, and Superpages. While these sites are not as popular as the two heavy hitters we discussed above, some people do use them and they provide even more legitimate links to your site verifying that you have a real business.
One thing you should never do, though? Pay money to any company that claims they'll improve your SEO by getting hundreds or thousands of other sites to link to you. When companies like these aren't running outright scams, they're using tactics that will harm your search rank instead of help it. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.