How often do you grab your smartphone to search for a business in your area? How many times over the past week have you checked for a business’ phone number, address, website, hours or even directions to a nearby business? Or wanted to know where the closest florist or Starbucks was located? Or the best Cuban restaurant in your area?
Chances are – you’ve done it multiple times. And if you’ve conducted multiple searches for local businesses in the past week and relied on information from listings like Google Business Listing or Yelp then odds are consumers around you are doing the same when looking up information for your business or related to your business. When people need something, odds are the first action they take is hopping on their smartphone, laptop, or tablet and head to Google where they conduct a search. Or, as these devices become more popular, people simply ask Alexa or their Google Home device for the information. In fact, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
So how do you start to compete? How do you make sure your business gets found? The first step, and it’s probably not what you’re thinking – make sure your business information is correct across search engines, directory sites and social sites. Have you ever traveled all the way to a business only to find they were closed when their Google listing said they were open? How frustrating was that? I’m going to guess extremely frustrating. Ever wonder how many people looking to utilize your business have received incorrect information about your business online?
Would you have allowed your business information to be listed incorrectly in the phone book? People are constantly searching for businesses in their local area and utilizing information from listings like Google Business, Yelp and SuperPages. Consider these the new version of yesterdays local phone books. Let’s talk about how accurate listings and citation information benefit your business.
What are Local Business Citations? Citations are any mention of your business on the Internet by a third-party and include local listings, directory sites, review sites and your listing on Google. These usually include name, address, and phone number. They may also include a link to your website.
What are Local Listings and Directories? There are more than 200 local listing sites online. A local business listing is an online entry that contains your business name, address, phone number and other details about your business such as your website, a brief description or hours of operation. Listing sites include Google, Bing, Yelp, YP.com, Manta, CitySearch, Superpages, Foursquare, Whitepages, MapQuest, TripAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, local Chamber of Commerce, Apple Maps, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, and Hot Frog. Most directory sites are general sites that span multiple industries but there are also industry specific directories like HealthGrades, Vitals.com for healthcare or OpenTable for the food industry. The consistency of your information across the web, including directories and listings sites, can either help grow your business or serve as a barrier to customer discovery. Fun Facts About How Consumers Search Here are a few fun facts about how consumers are using the Internet:
an estimated 50% of mobile search queries have local intent
46% of ALL searches on Google are seeking local information
97% searched online to find a local business
92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of search results
97% of people find out about a local company through the Internet
88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours
In order to capitalize on all of these local searches, your business needs to be present on the search results. Yet recent polls indicate that over 50% of business owners haven’t updated their listing information in YEARS!
Why Consistent, Accurate Information is Important with Listings / Directories Well, for starters, 75% of search engine users never scroll past the first page of search results. According to a study done by Forbes, 95% of smartphone users have used their device to perform local searches, out of which 61% called the business and 59% visited. And SearchEngineWatch found that 70% of mobile users click to call a business directly from Google search results using their mobile phones. So it’s pretty important to show up in results when people are doing searches on Google or directory sites as well as make sure your information is correct.
There are 2 main reasons why accurate listings are essential for your business:
Customers (both existing and potential)
Local SEO (visibility on search engines)
Why Listing Accuracy Matters to Customers Having accurate listings matters to both existing and potential customers. Accuracy in listings increases business and improves customer experience.
Online directories are the digital equivalent of the phone book except it’s no longer enough to be listed in a single phone book. You need to be listed in all of them. And you need to be listed with accurate, consistent information. Think about how many people search each day for plumbers, hair salons, restaurants, dentists, doctors, home services, and other service providers. Being a local business – your job is to make the search easy for consumers. And no matter what site they are using you need to ensure your information is correct. What are the odds of someone giving you their business if they call a phone number that is disconnected or show up to your location to find you aren’t open or have moved to a new location?
Do you invest in advertising your business – online or using traditional methods like TV, print, radio? Most consumers use or reference multiple touchpoints before contacting a business. Making sure your information is correct across multiple directories improves the performance of your advertising. For example, most people who see a TV ad or hear a radio ad are going to look for you on Google.
What are the odds of them choosing you if your information is incorrect or not even there? For example, there is a large dental practice with over 60 locations who spends a LOT of money on traditional advertising yet doesn’t spend the time to ensure their information is correct across directories. When I searched for the one closest to my house on Google their Google Listing came up but there was no phone number. They are spending a lot to promote their business but then failing to make sure people have the necessary information to choose their practice. With online listings, your business information is readily available to the customers when they are ready to choose you! It’s important that the information they find is correct. Additionally, the information provided in your listings such as reviews, photos and video can also help get customers to choose you instead of your competition.
Why Listing Accuracy Matters for SEO (Organic Visibility) Accurate, consistent listings don’t just matter to consumers they also matter to search engines. Here’s how listing accuracy influences your organic visibility.
Builds trust and confidence with search engines
Drives more qualified website traffic
More visibility = more awareness for your business = more new customers. Build Trust & Confidence with Search Engines Every time your business is mentioned online it has the potential to build trust and confidence with Google and other search engines. All the major search engines look for mentions of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP) and even the slightest variation such as an abbreviated street name or alternate phone number can signal your business may not be legit. But when the search engines see consistent information across the board, it signals that your business is legit and trustworthy thereby boosting your organic ranking.
Increases Backlinks In addition to name, address and phone number, directory sites usually include a link to your website as well. If these links are “follow” links then they will pass SEO juice to your website which also helps increase your organic ranking. While the type of backlinks that Google places importance on has shifted over the years, one thing has not – the importance of having links pointing back to your website.
Drives More Website Traffic More directories linking to your website results in more website traffic. And most traffic from directory sites is going to be high quality traffic. Some of the best traffic my clients get to their site in terms of on-site user engagement metrics like average session duration, bounce rate, pages per session and conversion metrics comes from directory sites like Google Listing and Yelp. While website user engagement metrics may not be as influential as other search ranking signals, they do affect your site’s rankings. The longer people stay on your website and the more they engage, the higher you appear on the search engine results. And some of the best traffic you can get to your website comes from directory sites. Accurate citations on directory sites is an easy, effective and affordable way to improve your organic ranking and visibility.
How to Create Accurate Listings? Knowing all the benefits of having accurate listings is great but it doesn’t do you any good unless you know how to make yours accurate and consistent across the board. FINAL THOUGHTS. Whether you spend money in advertising or not, accuracy and consistency in business listings is a worthwhile investment. Like your website, this should be a foundational piece to your digital presence if you have any type of brick and mortar business. It doesn’t matter if you have a single location or 100 locations. Consider local listings the equivalent of yesterdays local phone books – would you let it go to print without your business being there or being listed with incorrect information?