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5 Local Business Listings Best Practices.

8 years into my journey as a digital marketer, I have developed a habit of assessing the local listings of any place I show up to.

Every time I go to a restaurant, coffee shop or retail store in a rural area, I do an assessment of the business’s local listings. I make it my mission to help out, as my drive to be a supportive digital marketer kick in.

What has become apparent in recent years is that, no matter how small the community, online local listings and local business strength are increasingly important. Even your neighbour is pulling up listings on their smartphone and that is impacting their purchasing decisions. Yes, even if your business is right next door.

In going from place to place, assessing listings as I go, I have noticed several trends in how businesses handle (or don’t handle) their local listings.

Here are 5 of my top observations, and what you can do about them:


1. Google is not everything

As important as your Google listing is, you will still have considerable traffic coming from other listings and search engines.

Here are the top traffic drivers that you should be aware of:

  • Google My Business – https://www.google.com/business/
  • Bing Places – https://www.bingplaces.com
  • Yelp – https://biz.yelp.com
  • Yellow Pages – http://m1.adsolutions.yp.com/free-listing-basic-benefits
  • FourSquare – http://business.foursquare.com
  • Whitepages – https://www.whitepages.com

These services are all free and can potentially drive significant traffic. If you have not properly set up your listings on these services, it would be in your best interests to do so or find someone (like a digital marketer) who can do it for you.


2.Make sure your listings are complete

What constitutes a complete listing is different from one platform to another. Yet, there are some basic elements that should be included in each and every listing, across all platforms:

  • Name
  • Tagline
  • Description
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Site URL
  • Hours of operation
  • Categories
  • Photos and videos

Then there are a few “nice to have” elements:

  • Alternate phone numbers
  • Social channels
  • Payment methods accepted

Make sure all your listings are as complete as possible.


3. Make sure your listings are consistent (down to the letter!)

The key to successful local SEO (search engine optimization) is consistency. Accurate and consistent information across all your listings will improve your SEO reputation, which is an important factor in how well you rank in search results.

For example, Google has a measurement index called “listing accuracy”. This index relies on the consistency of your information across these listings.

Do an audit of your online listings, including everywhere in your own website and/or blog that lists such information. Ensure all information is consistent, down to the letter, with your current business status.


4. Avoid duplicate listings

Having more than one listing with different information is a red flag to Google and other search engines that your data is not accurate.

Also, since search engines pull information from many different sources, duplicate listings will dilute your ranking position (i.e. you may rank lower in search results pages).

Did you or someone in your business accidentally submit two listings to Yellow Pages, for example? Make sure there is only one and that it has accurate and consistent information.  


5. Search Console

There is nothing more discrediting than seeing a local listing with 10 reviews, all of them 5/5 and all of them left by people with the same family name. It’s nice to have a supportive family, but it’s important to get impartial, authentic reviews as well.

When in the pursuit of reviews, make sure that you are inviting your actual clients to leave reviews and not just family members. This authenticity really does matter to potential clients or customers.

Also, make sure that you are UpToDate! If you change your business hours, your location, storefront, phone number or any other essential details, make sure to update your listings as well.


Takeaway

Local listings are used to ensure that your visitors find your business. View this as a positive thing and use it to your advantage.

Drive value in the best possible ways by providing relevant, up to date and consistent information about your business.

For local businesses to thrive, online marketing is a must. Searching online is now the number one way people find the products, services and businesses they’re looking for. You need to make sure they’re finding you and getting the most relevant information when they do.

Read more on Local SEO here.

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