One of the primary goals of local marketing is to improve your visibility within your community. While many strategies comprise an effective local advertising campaign, one of the first steps you should take is to claim and optimize your local business listings.
Local Business Listings: A Definition
Local business listings are directories created by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other organizations. These directories compile information about local businesses in one location. They serve as a useful resource for individuals looking for specific businesses in their area.
Business listings do not just exist among search engines, however. Any site that collects and makes available data about local businesses can be considered a local business listing. Consider the following list of places that provide these directories to consumers:
- Angie's List
- LinkedIn Company Directory
- Apple Maps
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- And dozens more
Many of these directories are completely free. Others will require a small fee for listing your business.
A typical business directory will allow you to include essential information, like your name, address, and phone number (NAP) and your web address. You may also be able to list your email, hours of operation, and other relevant data.
Many of these local business listings will also provide a place for customers to leave reviews, and for you to reply to those reviews.
When consumers search for products and services in your area, or when they go directly to the business listing to find a company, your business name will appear. Consumers can then read reviews, go to your website, or reach out in another way to learn more.
Because these listings focus on local companies, they are a popular local store marketing tool. They allow you to put yourself directly in the path of consumers who are looking for local products and services. That can create some qualified leads for your business.
Creating strong business listings in the right areas, therefore, can get local consumers' attention focused on you. Here is a look at the benefits of claiming your local business listings.
Benefits of Claiming Local Business Listings
Claiming your local business listings is a smart local store marketing move. By doing so, you can achieve a number of benefits for your business.
Local business listings ensure the accuracy of your business information.
Keeping your name, address, and phone number (NAP) as well as other business details (like your email address and hours of operation) the same everywhere they appear on the Internet can improve your search engine rankings.
Claiming your business listings allows you to ensure that every single listing contains exactly the same information about your business. As a result, doing so is one relatively easy way to improve your local SEO efforts.
Local business listings make it easy for consumers to find and contact you.
Once you claim your business listing and add your updated information, consumers can easily find you when they search for products and services you offer in your community.
Because your information is accurate across every business listing, consumers can also easily reach out to you without wondering which phone number or address is the correct one.
By improving the ease with which local consumers can connect with your business, you improve your ability to engage with and convert potential customers.
Local business listings earn trust from consumers.
Consumers will make snap judgments about your business based upon your online presence. Verifying and updating your presence in local business directories makes your company appear legitimate, professional, and trustworthy.
In addition, as your name shows up in their search results, and as they see consistency in your online presence, consumers are more likely to reach out to you than to a business that is less visible or polished.
Local business listings enable you to reply to reviews.
Business directories like Google My Business and Yelp allow consumers to leave reviews. Once you claim your business listing, you also have the ability to respond to these reviews.
By interacting with consumers who cared enough to leave a review of your business, you demonstrate your own concern for your consumers' experience with your business.
Responding to negative reviews also gives you the chance to deal with unhappy customers before they can harm your brand reputation. Replying politely and taking the conversation off the public forum can go a long way toward calming upset customers and preventing further public complaints about your business.
Local business listings improve brand visibility.
Claiming your local business listings allows more local people to see and like your brand.
Once you claim your business listings, people who need the products and services you offer can access the appropriate local directory and type in what they need. Alternatively, they may enter a keyword into a search engine and see your business come up in the results.
Many consumers, particularly those who are conducting searches on mobile devices, are ready to act quickly. This is particularly true if they are local consumers looking for local businesses, exactly the type of consumers you are trying to reach with your local marketing campaigns.
Even when consumers choose not to engage with your business right away, they will tuck your business name away in the back of their minds. The more often they see your business appear in search results or reviews, the more they are likely to trust and remember your business. When they are ready to commit to a purchase, they will reach out to the first brand name they think of: Yours.
You do not have to tackle all of your local business listings at once. Start with the big ones: Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yelp. You can move on to other directories as you have time.
Do not be afraid to reach out to a local marketing advisor, like those here at Distinct Web Design. These advisors understand your area, because they live there, too. They can guide you through the process of claiming your business listings and implementing an effective local marketing campaign for your company.