Before we can answer how a local listing affects your business, we first need to look at what exactly a local listing is, what it includes and what types there are.
A local listing is exactly that: a listing of businesses, normally within a directory, that points to a business by a few different variables, whether it be the business name, the business address, the type of business and/or social media presence within a certain area or city. This is taken a step further when it comes to Google. Google will gather the information from several different business directories to compile their own listing of your business, unless you have claimed your business with them.
It is highly recommended that you do this quickly, if you have not done so already. Having incorrect and/or outdated information can be devastating to your business. Imagine someone is looking for your business and finds out that you are already closed, when in actuality this is untrue or they go to the address shown, to only end up at an incorrect address.
What a local listing includes?
There are a few key areas that you want to make sure are 100% accurate. This includes the following: Your Business Title, Links and Citations, Categories, Reviews and Ratings, Photos and Videos, Social Factors and Other Attributes.
Your Business Title – This is one of the most critical factors for ranking well in local search engines. Having a title that is consistent with an accurate business name is extremely important.
Links and Citations – Search engines find out about your business in two primary ways. The first being crawling links that are inbound to your website and tracking sites where those links appeared. The second is tracking citations of your business and where those citations came from.
What is a citation? Let’s take a quick pause to define what a citation is, so that there is no confusion. A citation is a ‘mention’ of your business name on websites other than your own. These ‘mentions’ should include the same information that a regular business listing does, i.e. the business address, the type of business and a phone number.
Categories – Many local directories allow you to choose between two to five categories that identify what your business is about. Search engines like Google will then use these categories to help decide which businesses to show for searches. Search engines will NOT show a business that is uncategorized – or even worse, incorrectly categorized – for sets of keywords. This is especially true for high demand keywords or phrases that already have several businesses associated within a category. This is exactly why having consistent and correct information about your business throughout is essential.
Reviews and Ratings – Reviews and ratings are powerful persuasion tools for customers that are on the fence about purchasing a product or service from your business. While a negative review can encourage a potential customer to hit the ‘back’ button, a great review can encourage a customer to pick up the phone and call you!
Photos and Videos – Having photos and videos help entice a potential customer into clicking on your business listing. This means taking the time to pick out the proper photos and videos you plan on showing to your potential customers; do not just put something up for the sake of putting something up. These photos and videos can be anything but putting up projects that your company has worked on, products you offer, your team and/or your office itself will lead to more clicks and more recognition.
Social Factors – The social component of local SEO is growing stronger with each passing year, and learning to participate in the social platforms your customers prefer is a fantastic way to further build your relationships. You can also interact with reviewers in a similar manner to Twitter and Facebook. Reviews are a key component to a business’s survival. Certain forms of social media activity appear to influence overall search engine rankings. Their direct influence is unknown, but it is safe to say having a social media presence is important.
SIDENOTE. Not all reviews are created equal but having reviews is better than having none. There is an art to answering negative reviews to spin them into a positive outcome. There is more to it but that would take another article.
Other Attributes – It is vital to list your complete contact information on your website in a format that search engines can read. This is a simple step that most businesses seem to overlook. Providing your contact information in a format such as an image, a flash player or any other non-text format that search engines cannot crawl will affect your search rankings.
Lastly, keeping up with changes to policies, the latest opportunities for promotion and what your competition is doing on major search engines and local listings are all good ways to ensure that your business is doing everything it can to be current and visible in the local search.
How does your local business listing stack up? If you would like to learn more on how we can help with your local listings please feel free to request a local directory analysis below. We look forward to working with you.