We’ve been waiting for this to come along, Google’s answer to Facebook’s Like button but for search results pages. You will now start to see a tiny +1 icon next to the title of orgainic and paid (AdWords) search listings. Currently, it appears next to the Favorite star but this is expected to go away soon. The idea of this nifty little gadget is make search more social, allowing users to effectively vote up (recommend) their “favorite” listings. Okay, let’s see how long it takes the search scammers to spoof this one.
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:
- Google Places for your business and Google Profile for your personal.
- Yahoo! Local
- Bing Local Listing Center
- AT&T YellowPages
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.
The next great passion of Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson of TED Conferences aggregated advertising research from a number of authorities (e.g. Forrester, Nielsen, Yankee Group) and discovered the market value of one hour of attention is worth $1 in print, $0.25 on TV, and less than $0.10 on the Internet, suggesting that the industry has yet to figure out how to best capitalize on the nearly 2 billion people online (carrying over the interruptive ad model is not the way to).
To help figure it out, TED is inviting the business community to submit videos to the Ads Worth Spreading Challenge by February 7, 2011. Up to 10 winning ads/videos will premiere at TED2011 in Long Beach, CA, February 28-March 4, 2011, before 1,500+ thought leaders as well as subsequently appear on TED.com for free for one week in March. Winners will also appear on the YouTube homepage and as ads across YouTube content.
Appearing as post-roll after every TEDTalks videos for a week, the company claims, is about 2 million impressions (views). That’s a pretty sweet deal! Learn more on how to enter here.
Google yesterday announced new metatags syndication-source and original-source to cite source of web content. Effectively allowing you to take credit for original content and giving credit to other journalists. These tags are only applicable on news items and not web pages at large, meaning they are picked up by Google News and not Google Search (no doubt to curb the potential abuse from spammers). Nevertheless, if you write news content or syndicate news content, you would do well to give these metatags a spin.
syndication-source indicates the preferred URL for a syndicated article. If two versions of an article are exactly the same, or only very slightly modified, we’re asking publishers to use syndication-source to point us to the one they would like Google News to use.
original-source indicates the URL of the first article to report on a story. We encourage publishers to use this metatag to give credit to the source that broke the story. We recognize that this can sometimes be tough to determine. But the intent of this tag is to reward hard work and journalistic enterprise.
To learn more about the specifications, visit Google News Help.
Google has updates it’s popular Translate application, now you can Listen in (most) languages.