It is the grand opening of your new business and the most exciting day of your life! All day you wait for a flood of customers to walk through your door, but the day comes and goes with just a few mere passersby. “Where did I go wrong?” you ask.
As you recount your every move for the last six months, you begin to realize that your business is non-existent online. You Google, Yelp, and Facebook your restaurant, but nothing shows up. You put your address into the Google map search, but the search comes up empty. Not even the all-knowing Siri can tell you that your business exists! This sounds like a nightmare, but luckily, there is an easy fix to your local listing snafu.
What is a local listing?
A local listing is:
- Sometimes called a local citation
- Anything from a social media page, to a review site, to a chamber of commerce website, or industry publication
- Always includes your business Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP)
When done correctly, a local listing strategy can turn consumers, no matter where or how they search, into customers by:
- Improving your organic ranking in search results on Google, Yahoo, or Bing
- Making your business easier to find on Google or Apple maps
- Increasing the likelihood that you will be recommended through voice searches like Siri and Alexa
How do local listings work?
Each search engine uses advanced algorithms to understand what you are looking for and then deliver content that is relevant to your search. For example, if you search Bing for “Mexican Restaurant Houston, TX” you should get results for Mexican restaurants located in Houston, Texas. Seems pretty straightforward, right?
Well, the overlords of digital marketing must have thought it was too simple so they introduced voice search through assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google. As consumers have adjusted to this new method of local search, the language they use to search has changed as well. Now consumers use complete sentences and full questions in a more natural and conversational tone.
Voice search is changing your local listing strategy.
It is now even more difficult for your small, local business to be recommended to consumers. Rather than doing a Google maps search for "Mexican Restaurant in Houston, TX", consumers are asking Siri “What is the best Mexican restaurant near me?” These searches are more subjective than they were before, so the results Siri, Alexa, and Google return will be based on a different, more competitive set of criteria.
This is where your NAP (name, address, phone) comes into play. By making sure that your NAP is identical on each unique local listing, you are giving search engines confidence that they can identify each listing as your business. So the more local listings you claim with accurate and consistent information, the more likely it is that search engines will return one of your listings as a search result, no matter the method of search. To learn more about listing accuracy, check out this episode of Moz’s Whiteboard Friday.
4 Steps to Get Your Local Listings Right
1. Claim Search Engines Listings
ALL businesses MUST be listed on the top 3 search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If you don’t claim your map listing on these sites your business might as well not even exist. Yes, this sounds dramatic, but the reality is that “4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.” That means you’re missing 80% of prospective customers if you’re not listed correctly on the major search engines.
If you haven't already done it, stop what you’re doing and claim all 3 map listings on the major search engines before tackling the next set of local listings.
2. Social Media & Review Sites
Your business may not need every social media account to be successful, but there are some that just can't hurt. However, claiming your account helps ensure that someone else doesn't.
The most common social media are:
- How to create an account on Facebook
- How to create an account on Twitter
- How to create an account on Pinterest
- How to create an account on Instagram
But check out this list of other social media platforms you may enjoy.
On the other hand, your business might end up on review sites like Yelp without your knowledge. It is important to claim your page on these sites (if possible) so that you can be notified of all activity and address any negative reviews. You most likely already have a page on Yelp and the Better Business Bureau, but check these other review sites periodically to make sure your business is being represented well online.
3. Industry Specific Directories
Identifying directories that are specific to your industry is a great way to be found by consumers searching for things like “local pizza place”.
For a restaurant this would entail claiming your listing on sites like:
Each business will have unique sites that their customer's check, so look at Bright Local’s top local citations by category for directories in your industry.
4. General Directories
Last, but not least, updating local business directories is an easy way to make sure your NAP is being used to benefit your overall local listing strategy. Use Moz’s Citations by City as a starting point to find the best local listings for your service area.
- Visit each site and search your business to see if a listing already exists.
- If not, create a listing with the same NAP you used on your search engine maps listings.
- If it already exists, claim the listing so that you can always keep your NAP up-to-date.