Even thirty years ago it was important to have local business listings. Then that may have consisted of just having an ad in the phone book Yellow Pages. Today, business listings are still essential, but no one really uses the phone book anymore. Everyone has gone digital.
Online listings on Google, Yelp and other sites are the primary source that people rely on for business information. Although they may seem like an afterthought, well-maintained location listings can be a powerful tool for your business. Here’s how:
1. Local Searches and Mobile Devices
Most people can’t leave their home without their smartphone. We use them for everything from navigating our commute and reviewing restaurants to tracking our fitness and finding nearby places to visit.
More people are researching and shopping on-the-go. According to Google, in the US and several other countries, more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. What are people looking for?
While on-the-move, over half or 56% of smartphone searches are related to local information. In fact, 4 in 5 smartphone users in the U.S. think that mobile ads should be personalized to their city, zip code and nearby area. As a result, some companies and advertisers are developing location-based advertising strategies. These are mobile ads that use GPS to target smartphone users based on their proximity to a business location. For example, if you are within 15 miles of a Target or Starbucks, you may see ads for those locations on your phone.
2. Proximity and Buying Behavior
Proximity and convenience have a huge influence on purchasing decisions. People aren’t just seeking out local information, they are acting on those results. Based on findings from a recent study, 34% of consumers who search locally from their desktop or tablet and 50% who search from a smartphone go to the physical location.
Based on the Google study, people are 18% more likely to make a purchase from a store within a day after a local search, compared to 7% after a non-local search. If they have made the trip to your store, then they are probably already interested in buying.
3. Location-Based Apps and Online Reviews
Whether you are taking a vacation or want to discover new restaurants and attractions in your area, you probably look for recommendations online. Reviews have an enormous impact on how others perceive your business. According to a recent report, 67% of people form an opinion of a business after reading 6 reviews or less. People trust online reviews almost as much as recommendations from family and friends. They also influence your local SEO rankings.
Review sites and apps are one of the top places that people go to learn more about a business. Almost every app that we use taps into our GPS and uses our location to feature the most relevant results. Mobile apps like Groupon and Foursquare showcase offers and deals in your location. Yelp highlights restaurants and other places to visit based on reviews.
However, many of these apps pull location information from online listings. If you don’t have listings that are up-to-date, then you either have to enter the details on every app and site manually or your business won’t appear in results. You could be losing a large chunk of potential customers because of your lack of online listings.
4. Local and Search Engine Ranking
Have you ever entered a search query into Google and noticed a box asking if the search engine could use your location? That is because Google and other search engines factor location into search. In fact, distance is one of the top three factors that Google uses to rank results. (The other two are prominence and relevance.)
Search engines crawl all over the web and pull your company information from local directories, review sites and business listings. The more legitimate places that your company pops up and the more information that you provide, the better your ranking. However, local SEO is a bit more complicated than that. Companies must make sure that their details are complete, correct, and consistent. To boost your local SEO, keep these tips in mind:
● Use local keywords in your titles, URLs and meta descriptions.
● Monitor and respond to customer reviews.
● Add information to your social profiles
● Build links and citations. A citation is when your business and its information is mentioned elsewhere, such as on review sites and social media.
In a survey conducted by ConstantContact, over 85% of SMBs believed that it was important to be found in local searches and directories. However, over half of the respondents haven’t updated their listings, even though they know they have outdated and inaccurate information.
An up-to-date listing can bring in new customers, but one with inaccurate or missing information can drive them away.
Ensuring Your Business Data is Accurate
Studies have found that 67% of shoppers lose trust in a brand when they get lost going to a location because of incorrect address information. The majority of people will blame the business owner for providing the wrong information, regardless of whether or not a review site, directory or another source is responsible.
Some other tactics that businesses can use to keep bad location data from affecting their listings is to conduct visibility reports and citation audits.
There are several easy-to-use tools that will run visibility reports for you. For most, you simply input your business name, address, phone and local keywords. Then, it scours the web for listings and checks their accuracy with the information that you entered.
If you have ever done a SEO audit for your business, then you may be familiar with citation audits. Citations help to increase the local SEO and visibility of your business. Generally, the more that you have, the higher your local search ranking. Conducting a citation audit can also point out listings that haven’t been verified or that have inaccurate information.
Location Listings Best Practices
When creating location listings, remember these best practices:
● Make sure that all the contact information is accurate and complete.
● The most important business information that people and search engines expect to see is NAP─Name, Address, and Phone Number.
● Other details that you should include are: Email, hours of operation, reviews, special offers and coupons, products and services, website and social pages.
● If available, select a Business Category (i.e. Food & Beverage, Health & Beauty, etc.). This makes it easier for people to discover your business when they have an idea of what they want but don’t have a specific place in mind.
● Use relevant images, which can include: brand logo, physical location and products.
Online business listings need to be maintained over time. Posting a listing when your business opens and then never checking it again can actually hurt your business.
But, listing your information on hundreds of sites and directories can be extremely time-consuming and tedious for business owners. The thought of spending even more time on updating them can be daunting.
Data about your business location isn’t just generated by you either. Visitors may enter inaccurate information on social media and review sites. Therefore, it is necessary to continually monitor it. This is why several of our 10twelve clients have location listing service retainers. We not only share accurate business information with 100+ listing sites but we update them and monitor for accuracy all at once. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your online business listings.