Foursquare in a location-based social network similar to Gowalla and Google Latitude. Users check into locations listed on Foursquare either using the website or a free mobile app.

As a social network, Foursquare offers not only networking opportunities for members, but also local SEO and marketing for businesses.

Foursquare For Business – Local Search & SEO

Foursquare business and location pages are spidered by Google, generally being listed on Bing Maps or sometimes Google Maps. Locations include geotags identifying the precise location of shops, pubs, restaurants, garages etc. With the advent of location-based search results in Google, users see an ever increasing results based on distance from where they are (mobile networks, especially 3G enabled systems, offer quick location matches).

In terms of SEO, businesses have the added benefit of each “check-in” being posted on Foursquare users social network pages such as Facebook and Twitter, creating a link to the Foursquare page and, through that, a link to a business website. Not only does each check-in create a visible advert, but each ad creates a spiderable link which is indexed in Google (with social media profiles being featured in Google in near real-time, links and “adverts” have the potential to appear immediately).

Promoting your business through Foursquare

With businesses being able to list their business on Foursquare for free, the possibilities for businesses are immense:

  • Businesses with accurate locations stored have the opportunity to catch potential customers searching in their local area.
  • Many businesses like bars and pubs provide special offers to users who check-in. These can take the form of limited edition offers on drinks, or percentage discounts on those crowned as “Mayor” (ie. the person with the most Foursquare check-ins at their location.
  • Faster indexing in search engines reduce the need to update a main business website with a temporary special offer.
  • Even businesses who do not allow the general public access, such as insurance brokers, can utilise Foursquare by setting up a listing for their office and encouraging employees to “check-in” when they arrive for work!

Checklist for businesses using Foursquare

  • Has someone already listed your business? If so, claim that listing rather than creating a new page – existing pages may have already been indexed by search engines and Foursquare users may already be familiar with it.
  • When creating or editing your listing, be sure that your company name is spelled correctly! You can’t guarantee that search engines will cover for a typo.
  • If you have a website, Twitter or Facebook page, include them – links to your main website draw visitors, and Facebook pages encourage customers to interact with your brand
  • Include your logo – this helps the public recognise you, as logos are easier to remember than simple text.
  • Make sure your actual location is correct on Foursquare. There’s nothing quite so embarrassing as punters walking down a road looking for your shop and being unable to find it as your listing is too far from your actual address.
  • Be sure that your business is listed in the correct category – these count, and make it easier for search engines and the public to find your listing. If unsure, see what which category your closest competitors are listed in – you want to be seen here too!
  • Some places, such as concert venues, pubs, bars and restaurants, sometimes include a QR code on their door, which allows customers to simply scan and check in that way (ideal if your customers are either in a hurry or likely to be having a few drinks…)