A lot has changed in the last few months in the world of local search. All of it affects your efforts to get visible to local customers.
I’m not even talking about Google+ Local. Like Oprah’s weight, Google is in a constant state of flux. Phone support, the carousel, the return of review stars…it’s a roller coaster.
Rather, I’m talking about other sites and search engines. They’ve been under the blade. Some have emerged from the operating room with nice facelifts. Others elicit a “Yeecch!”
If you run a “local” business in the US, you’ll need to deal with all of the below sites – either because they’re popular sites in their own right, or because they can affect your Google rankings . Here’s what you need to know about how they’ve changed recently:
Yes, it’s now called “Bing Places.” The recent changes have mostly been cosmetic, although there have been a few small improvements. The thing that jarred me recently was that Bing required a client of mine to phone-verify a listing on which we wanted to change the phone number. I don’t recall ever having to do that before. Bing seems to have new rules for when you can verify by postcard versus by phone. (Update: Thanks to always-sharp Nyagoslav Zhekov for the Bing intel in his comment at the bottom of this post.)
Some months ago (I’m not sure exactly when), Yahoo spruced up its listing-manager area a little bit. Aside from that, Yahoo still is its clunky old self – and probably clunkier than ever. But you still need to wrangle with Yahoo, so you’re visible to that sliver of that population that prefers it.
Revamped and renamed in June. ExpressUpdate now requires business owners to claim their listings by phone personally. Let’s say you added your business to the site a year ago (or had someone else do it), claimed your listing, and have been happy ever since. Now let’s say you need to update one bit of info on your listing. Your old login won’t work. You have to look up your listing, claim it by phone, and wait for ExpressUpdate to approve you and give you new login info. Then you can make changes.
You can’t add a free listing to LocalEze, as of April. If you want to add your listing for the first time, you need to pay $300/year, find a reseller who can sign you up for less, or wait until LocalEze gets fed your business info from other sites. If you already have a listing on LocalEze and you need to fix some of the info, you can make one round of edits per year for free.
Still an obstacle course (as I wrote a year ago). If you want to add your listing for the first time, you can either email the CitySearch folks at email@example.com, or you’ll have to wait until the site is fed your listing from ExpressUpdate. Once your listing is added – or if it’s already on the site – you’ll need to claim it by phone at https://signup.citygrid.com/cyb/find_business.
You’ll want to keep in mind that CitySearch’s parent company recently laid off two-thirds of its staff, and that any step in the whole process I just described might be slow as a result.
Honorable mention goes to Local.BOTW.org. It’s not as important as the above sites, but it’s a good citation to have. It’s no longer free. (Maybe that will make it a really good citation to have, in the way David Mihm described 5 years ago.)
Instead of offering the free “JumpStart” listing, in June they started asking for a whole $1.99 per month, if you aren’t already listed on BOTW Local and want to add your listing. Old listings have been grandfathered in.
Other important sites – Yelp, YP, SuperPages, etc. – are the same as they’ve always been. No changes to report at the moment.
Anything you’d like to add about any of those sites? Any questions? Leave a comment.