*A big thank you to the Queen of Local SEO, Bernadette Coleman, for sharing this advice she has for succeeding with local listings. Bernadette is the founder and CEO from AdviceLocal, an award-winning local search technology and local presence management company and valued partner of Neustar Localeze.

Consumers are looking for brands and businesses they can trust online. Having optimized business listings that provide them with the information they want and need is one of the best ways to reach consumers.

Research tells us this about consumers:

  • 82% conduct local searches when trying to find a local business
  • 65% search for more information online than just a few years ago
  • 63% lose trust in a brand if they get lost en route
  • 73% lose trust in a brand when a business has incorrect listings

What is the takeaway from this? Businesses and brands have the answers consumers are looking for when they use search engines. Making sure they find your business when searching is important, so keep reading to learn how.

4 Ways to Enhance Local Business Listings

1. Google Your Business

I have to start with Google, and so should every other business. From an optimized Google My Business listing to leveraging all the features made available by Google such as messaging and posts, Google is the starting point for local businesses getting found.

Beyond the Google My Business listing, find out how visible your business is:

With GPS enabled on your mobile device:

  • Do a search for your business category while in the physical location of your business. (Try this process down the street, too. Proximity is a big factor here.)
  • Did your business show up on the first page? If not, how far down do you have to scroll to find your listing?
  • What information is available in your listing? Is the address accurate and the website URL visible? What about the phone number?

2. Optimizing Business Listings

Scroll through the results from above and make sure your listings are claimed and optimized across all the sites you are listed on. This includes making sure the NAP (name, address and phone number), business hours and website are included and consistent.

Think about the customer, too. While it’s important to have a consistent NAP and other information for search purposes, remember that this information should be helpful for a customer looking to visit your business.

Those searching online for the business most likely haven’t visited it before (or in a long time). Include simple driving directions or photos with the listing, you’ll be well on the way to providing customers what they want the most and setting them up for a better experience.

Other items you’ll want to include with the business listing:

  • Products and services offered
  • Payment methods
  • Special qualifications or accreditation
  • Languages spoken
  • Alternative communication methods e.g. an email address

It is safe to assume that if someone found your business listing through a directory, they are web savvy. Including links to sites such as social media, website FAQs or even a store locator map is totally a win.

3. Rising Above the Competition

One of the ways to make sure the listing is placed higher in search is to stake out the competition! It’s time to go back to the search you ran for your business category and evaluate the listings of those that are above or immediately below the business. Are competitors listed in directories that your businesses isn’t? If so, why? What is the difference between the two listings? Perhaps you need to make an adjustment in your listing.

Conducting a search for known competitors is a must. The goal isn’t to make the business listing look just like the competitor’s, but to include the necessary relevant information to place your listing higher than the competition. To make your business listings stand out, include information that may be an added benefit to a customer – e.g., exclusive brands, vegan options, pet-friendly.

4. Maintaining a Consistent Online Presence

You are well on your way to winning more business with local citations. Now, you need to maintain this momentum and it starts with monitoring and maintenance. Bad data plagues the internet and gets disseminated in many different ways. Be on the lookout to identify any new listings that pop up and continually remove listings on sites that are sending negative signals to search engines.

The school of thought in the past was to have as many business listings as possible online, however, quality and quantity is the new best practice! Google and other search engines factor in quality of data when returning search results.

There are also industry-specific listings on niche directories like Realtor.com, Care.com and FindLaw, which you’ll also want to get listed on. Check out what is available for your industry.  

But Wait, There’s More

Once your business is listed on the best citation sources and you’ve confirmed everything in the listing is correct, you’ll want to take a deeper look into what others are saying about the business. This is reputation management. Here’s something to read on that.

With AdviceLocal, businesses and agencies can manage local presence from one dashboard. As the trusted business listings identity management provider for local search, Neustar Localeze ensures that business listing data is optimized, distributed and published to more that 100 search platforms, navigation systems and mobile apps.

Keep following this positive path and keep learning! It’s the best way to make sure your local businesses stays at the top of search results.