Do you want some insight into how Yahoo Local ranks businesses when consumers search for local goods and services?
Local Search expert Matt McGee posted an excellent interview with from Brian Gil, Director of Product Management for Yahoo Local. Matt asked some great questions and Brian gave some very descriptive answers.
I highly recommend you read this interview (see link below) if you are a small business owner trying to get your site to rank well in Yahoo Local – and these principles should apply to Google Local as well.
I’ve pulled out a few quotes from Brian here to create a synopsis of some of the points that stood out for me.
About standing out in the local search results:
…one thing I was also trying to stress … is about going after the long tail of queries. I think that’s an area where small merchants, even more than chains, can stand out in local search and really build their business. And that’s by providing the depth of content that’s available to them in our self-service listing program. They can really lay out all the products and services and brands they carry, write a long description — all that content does get indexed and does factor in to what we determine to show.
On the importance of data sources, and of claiming your business listing:
Tthe good news is, if the business owner claims their listing, they don’t have to worry about those other sources being outdated. If they take ownership, they can control it. But I can understand the complexity, because there is no one single clearinghouse that a business owner could go to and trust that the whole Web will be updated. But if they take the time and — at least for us, I can say definitively — if they take the time to actively claim it, they won’t have to worry about it going forward.
Consumer searches in Yahoo (and Google) vs Internet Yellow Pages:
I always encourage business owners to just make sure that their business records are as robust as possible and to clearly lay out what differentiating services they provide. Because we are seeing — as consumers are getting more savvy in how they look for local merchants online — we’re seeing more complex queries, certainly a shift away from the traditional heading and business name-type lookup queries that you see in IYP (Internet yellow pages) sites. More people are using Web search-style queries. Maybe it’s the size of the query box, I’m not sure yet, but people tend to be more descriptive in what they’re looking for. It’s a huge opportunity for merchants to rank very well without trying to compete in the old-school way of, ‘What’s my category? It’s plumbing, and therefore I have to rank for “plumbing”.’ It’s not just about that anymore. It’s much more diverse than that.
Recommendations for Small Business Owners
Wow, there are some killer tips in here! Here are some take-aways and recommendations based on the interview and my personal experience helping small business owners rank well in the search engines:
- Claim your business listing and fill out your Yahoo Local profile (you can take advantage of the above tips with the free version.) Do this yourself – don’t depend on the data sources that Yahoo pulls from. You want to go directly to Yahoo Local and fill this out yourself completely and accurately. Our Quickstart page has more tips for filling out your local profiles.
- Spend some time to understand the keyword phrases that are relevant for your business. What would your customer type into the search box? What keyword phrases do you want to show up for when potential customers type their query into the search box? You want to go further than “plumber in San Diego.” When Brian mentioned long-tail keywords above, he is talking about phrases like “drain problems, san diego” or “24 hour plumbing emergency in Pacific Beach”. Make sure to include these phrases in your content on your Yahoo profile, and on your website in rich, descriptive content or articles.
- Don’t rely exclusively on the Yellow Pages or Internet Yellow Pages for your advertising. As I’ve mentioned before and Brian states in the interview, consumers are changing the way the find local goods and services. They are relying more and more on searches from Google and Yahoo, and less and less on the Yellow Pages.
Kudos to Matt McGee for another great interview!
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