The US Government is dysfunctional. Congress is corrupt. It’s so bad that, even in these times of spiraling deficits, lawmakers are still earmarking precious funds so that Uncle Sam can help you with…your local SEO.
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
I don’t know that The Man has appropriated precious resources specifically to help your business grow its local rankings. But he does have some resources that you might be able to use to your advantage.
Of course, they’re free. (Actually, you’re paying for them…but let’s not go there )
Here are 4 government-issued tools that can come in handy for your local-search-visibility campaign:
Tool 1: USPS ZIP Lookup Tool
Is your business in a small town, near a city line, or in a big city with a bunch of tightly-packed ZIP codes? Better double-check what ZIP the Post Office thinks you’re in (or, for that matter, which city they think you’re in) – before you do any citation-building for your business.
If you don’t “measure twice, cut once,” you’ll probably be in for a nasty surprise if the Post Office lists you at an address other than the one you use for your listings. Why? Because ExpressUpdate.com (AKA InfoGroup) feeds off of Post Office address data, and in turn feeds business data to a ton of directory sites where your address needs to be listed consistently across the board. There will be conflicting info on your business, hurting your Google rankings. You’ll feel like going postal.
(By the way, I’d known about the USPS checkup for quite some time, but I must tip my hat to Mary Bowling for reminding me by way of her great SMX Advanced presentation / slide deck.)
Tool 2: Census.gov
Want to know more about the people (AKA potential customers) in the city you’re targeting? The Census is the great-granddaddy of big data.
If you rummage around the site for long enough you’ll probably find out whatever you want to know, but I’d say following two areas are the best starting points:
If you’re listing your business on ExpressUpdate.com for the first time, OSHA’s category-search tool can help you pick out the best category to list your business under. (More detail on this in my recent post on the new ExpressUpdate.)
4. Your city’s local-business directory.
If you suspect some of your competitors are using fake business info – like a keyword-stuffed Google+Local business name or a phony address – you might want to look up their official business info. From there, you’ll probably be in a better position to draw a conclusion as to what to do about it – like possibly reporting them to Google through the “Report a problem” button on their Google listing, or reporting them to the MapMaker fuzz.
You should be able to find your local-business register by searching Google for the name of your city/town + “local business directory,” “business register,” or “chamber of commerce.” (Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.)
Do you know of any government-issued resources that might be handy for local SEO? Anything local-business-related that you wish our tax dollars would go toward? Leave a comment!