Jan 18 2011

Claim Your Free Listings, Build Your Inbound Links


by Andrew DiFiore

Did you know that you can claim any number of online business listings absolutely free?

That’s right. Most online directories like YellowPages (AT&T), SuperPages, Google Places, and Yahoo! Local, automatically create a free listing on your behalf (whether you like it or not) for at least one city (most likely where your “physical” location is thought to be). They do this because they ultimately want to up-sell you other offerings for a monthly fee.  Whether these other offerings are worth the money really depends on the nature of your business. A plumber may very well benefit expanding their listing to include neighboring towns.

Regardless, we recommend to all our clients that they claim these free listings if for no other reason than to protect their brand, ensuring all the information is up to date, including the links to their site, blog, Facebook profile, and online store. But there is another compelling reason to claim your free listings: Link Building.

What is Link Building?

If you have done any kind of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website (or your clients’ websites) then you no doubt have spent a lot of time on Keyword Optimization. Well, the flip side of Keyword Optimization (which focuses on what you can do on your site) is Link Building, also know as Link Popularity, which focuses on what you can do off your site. Simply put, the more people who link to your website the higher your ranking on Search Engines Result Pages (SERP).

It used to be enough to just have lots of inbound links but the spammers and scammers started using link farms (and other black-hat techniques) to spoof the search algorithms and now such tactics will get your site banned for life.

Google and company now give greater weight to the quality of inbound links not just quantity, meaning that it is better to have links from sites and blogs well-established as authoritative sources (e.g. Wikepedia, Technorati, Psychology Today).

Claim Your Listings, Build Your Inbound Links

So, having links from authoritative sources increases ranking and visibility on search sites which in turns drives quality visitors. Without costing a cent! Why wouldn’t you do this? Before you shout out time let me remind you most of these listings already exist, all you have to do is claim them and make sure the info is correct. Five minutes tops! And although many of these directories offer a lot of additional features like microblogging and social networking (intended to keep you coming back, not necessarily a bad thing), by no means are your obligated to use them, therefore, you can update and forget.

Here is my shortlist of free listings worth claiming:

I suggest you search for your listing first before creating a new one; start with your business address and if it is not there, try your personal address. By the way, the data entered under a search engine’s local listing appears on their corresponding map. Google now enables businesses to include videos, tweets, and such right on Google Maps (read this post).

One point of clarification: claiming your listings is not the end-all of Link Building, it is really just the least one can do to protect their brand. It is an easy way to boost your standing with search engine without needing to be an SEO expert to do it. Link Building is an ongoing effort that should be part of your overall marketing strategy. I will elaborate on this in future posts.

What other listings have you found useful? Feel free to drop a comment below.


Jan 25 2010

Google Real-Time Search the Ticket for B2B Social Media


by Andrew DiFiore

Is it really much of a surprise that search is becoming more real-time?

Nielsen recently reported that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year and showing no sign of slowing any time soon. Social media is the number one activity online (surpassing porn). Microsoft inked deals with Twitter and Facebook back in October 2009 to include status updates on Bing. What took Google so long? Who cares? With 65% of all searches, Google’s integration of real-time conversations is potentially a real game-changer.

The reason businesses and B2B marketers should pay attention is that Google (and the users) give more weight to the latest news as it relates to their queries, especially from unbiased sources (Google does let you override this via Show Options… sidebar).

I’ve always advocated to clients that it doesn’t really matter how your customers find you as long as they find you. It may be your web site or your Facebook page, whatever the touch-point, it is all goodness. This means if you want to get the most out of your SEO strategy then your social media must be optimized — tweets, Facebook status, Yahoo Answers, news articles, press releases, and so on.