Local search has become increasing important for businesses looking to carve out an identity both online, and in the real world. With the growing popularity of mobile devices, more and more people have been relying on local search results to find the goods and services they need.
From restaurants to health care, wedding planners to plumbers, local search has made it easier for people to find and compare businesses in their area. This has not only been a great benefit to customers, but also to business owners trying to promote their brand, and build up their customer base.
Yahoo Local and Yelp have been leaders in local search data, and their recent merger has caused some concern amongst business owners who rely on their local listing to drive traffic to their doors.
So what does the recent merger of Yelp and Yahoo mean for your local listings, and how should you approach your local SEO moving forward in the wake of this new partnership?
Yelp, Yahoo, and Your Online Reviews
The biggest change businesses will see following the merger of Yelp and Yahoo is with their online reviews. Unsolicited customer reviews are an important part of your local search data, and a solid review profile can make or break your online performance.
Yelp is one of the most influential online directories and review sites, hosting more than 75 million visitors each month.
Following the merger, Yelp’s customer reviews will now be integrated with Yahoo’s local listings, and will show up alongside a Yahoo local search. This is good news for consumers, but may present problems for businesses who have put all of their local SEO focus on their Yahoo listings.
For example, if your business has 50 Yahoo reviews, and 1 Yelp review, the Yelp data will usurp the Yahoo data. Yikes!
In other words, there is a very real chance that your business may lose some of its most valuable review data in local searches. Yahoo sees Yelp’s reviews as having more online authority, and they will now be given pride of place in the SERPs.
So, what do you need to do to protect your rankings in the wake of the Yelp Yahoo Merger?
- Claim Your Yelp Listing – If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to claim your Yelp business listing.
- Update Your Business Information – It is crucial that all of your business information is up to date and correct, and that it is identical to the information you have provided on your Yahoo Local profile. The slightest alteration, for example an abbreviation or different phone number, could easily confuse the search engine and leave you struggling to gain ground in the SERPs.
- Optimize Your Listing – As always, optimize your Yelp listing for better search engine performance. Put in as much info as possible, and make sure to add photos!
Yahoo Local, Yelp and SERPs
The merger between Yelp and Yahoo has not diminished the importance of having an active Yahoo Local listing. While Yelp’s review data may be given more authority, it is your Yahoo Local listing that will be found in the SERPs.
Now, as Google has all but cornered the market as the leading search engine, many business owners have neglected their Yahoo Local listings. But Yahoo still makes up more than 10% of online searches, and that’s a market share that small business owners should not ignore.
So, if you haven’t claimed your Yahoo Local listing now is the time to do so. If you have a listing, now is a good time to review it to ensure that it is up to date, and that all information is identical to your Yelp business listing.
A basic listing is free, and will allow you to post all of the pertinent information about your company, including address, phone number, and hours of operation. Enhanced listings are available for a nominal fee, allowing your to share photos and limited content.
An enhanced listing also provides regular reports on the number of impressions and clicks your listing has received, which can be invaluable will mapping out your local SEO strategies.
In some ways, the Yelp Yahoo merger may be seen to be moving the goal posts where local search is concerned. Some businesses will benefit immediately from the merger, and from the new reliance on Yelp reviews as a local search data stream.
Others may find that they have lost some of their hard won online cache. But the effects of the merger are clear, and it is up to small businesses to take the necessary steps to ensure that they don’t get lost in the local search shuffle.