Straight to the point: What are local listings?
They’re listings added to directory sites with your business’s information. When people search for your business (or the service you provide), your listing on a directory site may display in the search results.
What does this have to do with your business? Quite a lot, actually, because odds are your business has already been included in many of these online directories. I wish I could tell you exactly how they get the information for your company… Maybe they buy it… Maybe they have a minion who combs through other directory listing sites and copies information for a living. Regardless, your business information is likely listed in multiple little corners of the web without your knowledge. Now that you know this, it’s time you take advantage and integrate them as a part of your local SEO.
I know, you’re like, “how are directory listings a part of my local SEO strategy? That’s bananas!” In some cases these listings will be shown before your website in search results. Other times, people will choose to click on a directory listing instead of clicking on your website listing. 8.41% of your local website SEO is determined by the accuracy of your listings. These listings are all opportunities for potential clients to come in contact with your brand. Was your phone book ad part of your marketing budget? Did you review it each year to make sure it was correct? Did you ever upgrade to full color? Oh, you did? Okay then, you get the importance of a directory listing. It’s time to stop ignoring them. Google will not reward you for negligence.
Still not on board? Let me tell you a true little story that illustrates how local listings can help your business. I have two dogs and no fence. It’s not awesome. So, as I was searching for a fencing company, the first thing I did was ask for referrals on Facebook. I looked up one of the suggestions. They didn’t have a website or a number for me to call. Obviously they do too much business to bother talking to a potential customer. So, I checked out the next suggestion. This company (also) didn’t have a website, but they did have multiple directory listings… different directory listings… and the phone number was wrong on all of them. Different numbers, all wrong. Okay, this is really bad. I hope that they are so busy they don’t need customers like me to pay them thousands of dollars to put up a fence because people can’t get ahold of them. That’s right, thousands. Who knew fences were so pricey? I finally got a bid for $10,000. The other companies missed out on the opportunity to earn $10,000 because they were either not listed or had incorrect information. And that’s what happens when you don’t keep your listings listings up to date.
It is most important to list your name, address and phone number and to be exactly the same in each directory. Your business description, web address and hours of operation should also match. I’ll say it again, the listings should be exactly the same — identical. When I say identical, I mean did you put “St.” or “Street”? Is it “Suite C” or “Ste. C” or “Ste C”? Does your name have an LLC after it or not? To keep it consistent and fool proof make a spreadsheet with all the information exactly the way you want it and then copy and paste from there.
If you have a business — you’re listed in directories. Do all of these listings matter? We’ll touch on that later. First things first, you need to know where your information is listed. To do this go to: moz.com/local/search. Type in your business name and zip code and you’ll get a free report. Once you get a list of them the real work begins.
If you don’t have one, get one. In order to qualify to be listed on Google maps, the local pack listings in search results or the knowledge graph you have to have a Google My Business listing. Make sure you are in the proper category, and that your address and phone number are correct. Put up some pictures of your office, maybe of your work or your team. And, to beat a dead horse, make sure it’s exactly the same as your other listings, because it’s REALLY important.
If you have a Google My Business listing a knowledge graph listing may display on the right side of search results when people search for your business name or a close variant.
When Google feels it’s appropriate businesses may be featured in the local pack listings on search results pages above other organic search results.
Each industry has its own set of key directories. Moz.com is also a great resource to discover what directories matter in your industry or city. Unfortunately, if you live in a smaller city or town you’ll have to make a few assumptions about the most influential listing directories in your community. Look at larger cities near to you to infer information about major directories. Certainly consider updating your listings in the following directories indicated as major directories in nearly every major city:
Search for the product you offer. Are there any industry specific or local directories showing up in the search results? Add those directories to your list to review/correct or add your business to.
A few more key players to consider:
The reason Moz.com offers all these cool resources is because, while they do want to provide you the tools that you need to promote your business, they also would love it if you decided to utilize some of their paid services. One of which is their Moz Local. There are other services out there as well, I personally haven’t dabbled with them. Services like these provide alerts when your business is added to a new directory, monitor reviews and offer you a way to maintain your listings in bulk.
If you only provide service locally, especially if you are a business to consumer service provider, you may be heavily reliant on local search results and directories to provide you with online leads. If that’s the case subscribing to a listing management service to keep your data straight may give you the edge you need to rank above your competitors organically. I’m pretty sure those fencing companies wouldn’t have minded knowing that paying $99 a year could have earned them $10,000 in business…just sayin’.
For business-to-business companies listing management may not be such a big deal. You’re probably in taking business through networking and a handshake. Or you may be leveraging other types of online advertising especially if you have a large regional or national audience.
The great news about all this hard work and extremely detailed nonsense: once you get these right, you’re good to go. You don’t have to go do them again… unless you move. (Cue the scary music.) Make sure that you document all this stuff — where you’re listed, what you updated and what your usernames and passwords all are. As usual, spreadsheets are your best friend. This way, if you move, you can go back and fix it up. Or just don’t ever move! That would work too.
There you have it, all in one nice neat little package — what local listings are, how they impact local SEO and how to find which directories to list your business in. Now you can set it and forget it, and get back to the business of doing business.
Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.
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