If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already seen and interacted with local business listings in one form or another. Previously dominated by phone books and yellow pages, online search engines and directories have now almost completely taken over. When you’re in marketing you need to be able to answer some basic questions, either to your boss or at the very least to yourself! So let’s get to the bottom of this one fast - what are local business listings and why should anyone care?
Local business listings are a powerful tool for building brand awareness about your business, boosting your company profile, and enhancing your website search engine optimization (SEO). Sometimes called local citations or directory listings, local business listings allow business owners to list their business NAP information in different online search engines or directories. If you've ever looked for a particular business online or even done a Google search for "pizza delivery,” you've used them yourself.
Google My Business listings inside Google search results are likely the most widely used type of local business listing. Other popular local search engines listings and directories are:
In addition to the local directories mentioned above, there may also be specific directories for your region or city. Your Chamber of Commerce can help you identify these. You may also find industry-specific directories that matter to your type of business. For example, if you own a tour company or bed-and-breakfast hotel, you'd want to get listed on TripAdvisor.
These listings contain information on your business, such as:
Here is an example of a typical local business listing:
Here’s a couple examples of local business listings from directory websites. This one is from Insider Pages:
And this one is from Yelp:
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what local business listings are, let’s take a look at why they’re important!
Back in the pre-Internet days, the physical Yellow Pages directory listing was vitally important to any local small business owner’s success. It was the only way new customers could find you without direct mail or word-of-mouth marketing. No entrepreneur would open a business without taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages or at least getting listed in the directory.
While you may still use Yellow Pages listings and/or ads, you've undoubtedly discovered they’re a lot less effective than they used to be at attracting customers. That's why online local business listings have become so important! If you don’t believe us here are some stats to help convince you.
These are some major facts and figures when it comes to understanding why local search listings are so important. Starting with Google My Business, if your business isn’t appearing in local search results, you’re missing out on so many new customer opportunities.
There’s a few other reasons local business listings are important as well.
#1 They help customers vet your service and provide an outlet for customer service!
Online business listings play an important role in verifying your business and its quality to potential customers. This is done through online reviews that are often present in local business listings, like in the examples we saw above.
Getting more online reviews will help your local business listings perform better. Customers are more likely to buy from your business if they see four or five stars next to your business name.
#2 Google uses the directories as a source of information about your business.
Having your business registered on key search directories is a good thing, because it gives Google more confidence that your business is a legitimate business. This improves your website rankings in search engine results and on Google Maps. Just make sure your business information is identical on all business results! For example, if your address is “21 South Street” you may also find listings that format your address as:
21 S. Street
21 South St.
21 South Street
21 So. St.
To humans, these are all easily recognizable as the same address. But to Google, these are four variations of data, which Google may classify as four different locations. Consistent name, address, and phone number details in local business listings are among the top five factors in how your business ranks in local search results, SearchEngineWatch reports.
If you’re still not convinced of the importance of online marketing, read this.