A great many businesses these days know the importance of creating an online presence even if they do not understand the workings of digital marketing. All activities that come under digital marketing services like search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, mobile applications for e-commerce and other purposes, and PPC advertising, etc. have their value.
However, most of these activities are not as useful for small business as the local listings optimization, especially when it comes to competing with global giants.
Most businesses around the world have a substantial percentage of their clientele that is local to the area of their operations. Even large organizations with multiple branches in a wide area or around the globe can benefit from local listings.
A local business listing is any web page or online profile page that contains your business name, address, phone numbers, web URL, and business descriptions. Numerous websites let you create free local business listings. The top among them are:
- Google My Business (Google Maps)
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- Yellow Pages
There are many benefits of being present on business directories and social media websites, however, to reap the benefits of local listings one needs to give particular attention to details, some of which can hurt your business if ignored.
Here are nine key suggestions that will help you optimize your local listings and grow your business:
1. Find As Many Citations as Possible
Most organizations prefer starting out with Google My Business (GMB), as it directly connects them with Google Maps – the most used platform by users for navigation and for looking for places. While we highly recommend using GMB and optimizing it regularly, the importance of other platforms cannot be ignored.
Granted that there should be only select few among them that you focus most of your energies on, yet having your business listed in multiple directories and business citations can help enhance your optimization efforts. Not only these platforms may direct traffic towards your business but also Google and other search engines count them as positive signals if your business appears in multiple reputable sites.
2. Fill out Complete Business Detail
Try to fill up every detail on the profile as required by the directory. It may include your postal address, telephone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, opening hours and so on. The more information there is present on your listing, the more comfortable the users will feel contacting you.
3. Be Creative with your Business Descriptions
Most directories and social media sites give you the opportunity of writing short descriptions for your business. Do not just write a description of your business once and then copy and paste on all other websites. Not only that it gives an impression of laziness but it might also be counted as plagiarism by search engines and may hurt your rankings.
Try to adjust your message according to the nature of the platform. There are often strict character/ word limitations in descriptions. So use your available space wisely!
4. Get Your Basics Right
Errors are a part of human nature. It is these errors that take us to continuous improvement. However, letting the errors stay in the public domain can hurt your reputation. Small grammar mistakes, incorrect address, or non-working links can result in distrust or aggravation from the users.
People expect good companies to be meticulous in their tasks and may not allow the same margin of error as they may let their friends or colleagues. Thus getting your listings and profile pages double-checked before publishing can help avoid costly embarrassments.
5. Use a Combination of Graphics and Text
On the one side of the picture, users do not want to look at long texts with elaborate descriptions that are difficult to read. Use catchy logos, graphics, and videos to gain users’ attention. On the other side of the picture, users also do want to know about your business once it gains their attention. The best way to satisfy their needs is through original text description that is neither too formal nor to immature.
6. Verify Your Business
While some directories make your business appear instantaneously, others may ask for some verification. It may be done through an email address, mobile text code, or some identity document proof. The ones that let you list without verification may also have a verification option available.
Getting your business verified, may earn you reputation points not only from customers but also from search engines.
7. Value the Customer Reviews
Most business listings have options available for users to write direct messages to you, to post reviews on the website or rate your business. User reviews are crucial for directing customers to your website. Often customers look at other users’ reviews before they finally click on your link. Negative reviews may divert them to your competitors.
Positive reviews, on the other hand, may help in finally convincing them. Keep promoting positive reviews to reduce the impact of negative reviews by responding promptly and dealing with the issue politely.
8. Link Your Listings and Social Media
Most business directories and social media websites provide options for linking your various public profiles together if not all of them. You may be able to place first social media profile links on most of the business directories. It will allow access to users to the platforms where you are most active. Furthermore, it will drive extra traffic to your social media platforms, which again is linked to your overall SEO.
9. Monitor and Update Your Listings
Some business directories capture business profile information automatically from partner and other websites. If you update your information on your focused directories, this may not be automatically updated on their partner websites.
Further, there can be some inaccuracies due to data transfer as artificial intelligence is not as advanced as a human brain. Thus it is a good idea to update business information regularly.