As a local business owner, the hours in your day are important. But if you could improve your brand recognition, reach, and sales in a few hours, you would do it, right? Consider the Internet your partner-in-time: with a few quick tweaks, you can make your online presence work overtime for you.
Here’s today’s quick SEO tip: Optimize your local business listing.
What’s a local business listing…and why should I care?
Your local business listing acts as a profile page for your company. It provides a quick and clear snap shot for searchers with relevant information. New customers will know where to find you, how to find you, when you are open for business, and they will learn about you through reviews.
According to Google, local searches lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores within one day. Now, knowing search engines reward you with improved rankings for having consistent listings, and being found first in searches is important, it makes total sense to keep your listings as accurate as possible.
But more than just being found, having NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency makes you look good. 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles, meaning your listing acts as a first impression to your customers.
When all of your listings provide the same information, you not only convey an attention to detail to potential customers, but you also help ensure they do not arrive at your store at the wrong time, which would no doubt leave them with a bad impression. Imagine your online listings said you were open until 6pm, and a customer rushes to your store after work, only to find out you closed at 5pm. You’re asking for a bad review right there.
Put your best face forward when claiming your business listings.
If you’ve been around for a while, your business likely already has pages on sites like Foursquare, even if you haven’t signed up for them. Same with Google My Business (which will cover services like Google Search and Google Maps). These search engines automatically populate information that is available on your site. That’s good: it saves you some work. Your job is to make them yours. Google has created a user-friendly way for customers to quickly find businesses and the best news is, it’s free.
You’ll need to visit each site individually to claim or create your business listing. Start with Google My Business, you can read my post on the steps needed to claim your Google My Business listing. Then move on to Facebook, Bing, Yelp, and Foursquare. If your business is already listed, create an account and prove you are the owner of your business. If it’s not listed, create an account and then add your business. Be sure to include the important stuff, like your:
- NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number)
- Website Information
- Operating Hours
- Business Photos
- Business Description
Make sure the information you’re including on these sites is written identical on your website and social media profiles. Small discrepancies add up in a search engine’s eye and confuse them – and a confused search engine is, well, confused.
Common pitfalls in your business listings:
Business name inconsistency
Is your business name an acronym on some profiles and a full name in others? Don’t bet on search engines to know they’re related.
Something as small as “street” vs “st.” can have an effect on how you’re displayed in search.
For local businesses especially, it can be cool to have “at the corner of X Street and Y Street” as your address listed on your website. This is for when you’re explaining directions verbally. Online, your address should always be as accurate as possible. Consider connecting the GPS coordinates to your business if possible.
Best Practice Tip
Make sure you review your local listing data every few months. To do this, keep track of your listing information in a spreadsheet and track what sites you’re listed on and that all the information on them is identical.
How Your Local Business Listing Affects Search
Google is always tracking you. Search engines crawl sites to measure their credibility, and cross-reference all the information it has on that site to businesses similar to yours. When it encounters conflicting information (or no information at all, like a business that doesn’t have listings online), it will direct searches to what it perceives as a more credible businesses. i.e. The ones that have consistent NAP information across the board.
Need SEO Best Practice Help?
Local business listings are one slice of the digital marketing pie. They’re an easy DIY solution to a common search engine ding. Increasing new leads each month however can take a lot more effort. If you find that digital marketing is taking too much time away from actually running your company, it’s a good time to consider bringing in someone who specializes in growing your business online.
Have questions? Considering bringing on a professional? Feel free to contact me.