Posted on April 20, 2011

How to Lose Your Listing in 5 Steps or Less

The world of Local Search is a fickle one. There is no easy step-by-step how-to guide that you can reference to get the perfect storm for number 1 results. But that doesn’t mean there are not strategies you can learn from other people’s mistakes. Avoid these top five, and you just might find yourself with the coveted #1 red balloon.

5. Clone Listings

It might make sense to create multiple listings for the same location just to increase your population among search engine sites, but this strategy will get you on Google’s naughty list. If you use the same exact address and phone number multiple times, Google and Bing will find you and punish you. If you have multiple locations of your practice, you have to be very careful to make sure you do not have duplicate content. This tactic has been tried over and over again, just don’t do it and save the heartache. Quantity does not mean quality.

4. Keyword Stuffing

If you want to find a beautiful flower arrangement for your sister’s wedding, you might go into Google and search “florist in Orlando”. If I were a florist who’s business name was “Katie’s Bouquet & Co.” I should list it exactly as “Katie’s Bouquet & Co”. Keyword stuffing is when I would add phrases or words where they don’t belong to increase my listings’ ranking. For example: “Katie’s Florist Bouquet in Orlando & Co” or “Orlando’s Florist: Katie’s Bouquet” or “Katie’s Orlando Bouquet & Co”. Be honest with your potential clients. Not only will you avoid confusion, but your listing will look a lot more professional. Also, you will get caught! Stuffing keywords into the business name, description, brands offered, or content will be found by the algorithms.

3. Empty Listings

When a potential client clicks on your review page, they want to be able to browse through your business in multiple different eye catching forms. Multiple pictures, Youtube videos, logos, ads, tags, and payment options are all additional information that, while not required areas will drop your rankings down if you refuse to populate them. Make your business as appealing as possible! Make it hard to avoid, and get all of your listings full of multiple forms of media.

*Note: Google in particular will only accept Youtube as the singular form of video on their Places Pages. Get current and post your videos on Youtube, they are universal and easy! Better yet, launch a Youtube channel that can reflect the style of your practice and your website.

2. False Reviews

This should go without saying, but unfortunately, desperate practices will hire third party companies to write fake reviews for them. They can be from any location around the globe, and there are often spelling errors, numbers in code, and just spam in general. Getting a lot of great reviews will be good for both business as well as improving your listing. However, there are two big things to consider:

First, you absolutely will be caught. You may not be caught next week, or next month, but I can guarantee you; you will get caught and it will seriously hurt your business 10 times worse than the false reviews helped. Not only will you become unsearchable and invisible to thousands of potential clients, but it will take an expensive and drawn out process to clean your mess up.
Second, paying for false reviews will destroy the trust you have worked so hard to build with multiple patients as well as families. Chances are, people who have been coming to your practice have been doing it for years and years. How will they trust you with their health if you parade around your business like a snake oil salesman? Show some dignity and confidence in your practice, and generate reviews that will truly affect the kind of quality services you provide.

1. NAPS – Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers.

These three factors can either help you fly or make you fall. There are over 50 review sites across the web and an innumerable amount of directories. When you go to list at each one, the absolute worst thing you can do is change how you list your business name, address, or phone number.

Make sure if you have an LTD, Center, Associates, …etc, behind your name that it goes everywhere. If you use the symbol “&” instead of the word “and”, make it consistent. Right down to punctuation, your business name should be identical v Addresses should also be identical. If you live on “Lavender Avenue” spell out the word “Avenue” instead of switching it to “Ave” when you list on all of the review sites. If you are in “Suite 241”, make sure you do not list some places as “Ste 241”
Phone numbers should always be locally listed if possible. If you have a toll free number, make that the secondary option, and list the direct local number first. Also, make sure your formatting stays the same “(###) ###-####” is not the same as “##########”. Pick a style and adhere to it. It makes all the difference in the world.

*Note: Like I said before, there are over 50 review sites. It is crucial that you claim each one personally. Not only will you avoid malicious persons wrongly claiming your site, you will be able to control all content that goes live across the net. Also, Google and Bing carry most of the weight for listing centers. BUT, they use something called “citations” that they receive by crawling hundreds of sites all over the internet. If any of your NAPs are inconsistent, then you are missing an opportunity for a citation. The more citations you have, the better your chances are of increasing your listings.