If you own a business, one of the most frustrating things that can happen is finding errors in your Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Facebook business listings. What's worse is if your competitors are ranking higher than you in search results.
Local business listings and local search results contribute to what marketers refer to as a business' local SEO. This post is intended to share with you the basics of how local search and local SEO works, and how you can take back control of your business listings.
How does local SEO work?
You probably have heard of SEO, but if you haven't, that catchy little acronym means search engine optimization, or how your business ranks in search. Right off the bat, it's important to know that SEO and local SEO are two different things. Local SEO involves optimizing your business listings and website so they appear in search engine results for your city or area, especially in the map pack (the Google Map and business listings that appear at the top of location-related search results).
When ranking your business in local search results, Google takes into account your address and location-related keywords on your website, online reviews, business listings, directories, and backlinks from other local websites. Business listings, including Google My Business profiles, contribute to local SEO because they indicate to search engines that your business has a physical location and serves a particular area.
You likely have a Google My Business page already set up, so you get the gist of what I'm talking about. But what do you do if your listings aren't showing up at all in search results? In the online world, that's equivalent to missing a front door on your brick-and-mortar storefront, so yeah, it's kind of a big deal.
Now that you have a brief understanding of local SEO...
How do you get your business listed?
If you haven't already, you need to register your business on the major search engines. Here are the links if you want to get a head start: Google, Bing, and Yahoo (note — Yahoo Local now uses a third party to add your business).
If you read further, we're going to talk about how we use one platform to control 100+ global directories, apps, sites, and maps.
Now, if you already have some active listings...
How do you find out if your business listing information is accurate?
There are multiple scans available that check the accuracy of your online listings. But guess what? They're going to try to sell you something afterwards. Spoiler alert — at the end of this article, you'll get access to SIX Marketing's scan for free.
I would estimate that over 99% of our clients have errors when we first run this scan for them.
Without getting too technical, there are automatic systems in place that aggregate your information from across the web. You might have never even listed your business in any online directory before and still have errors. Annoying, isn't it? Your information could have been aggregated from dozens of locations, including online phone books, your website, your local chamber of commerce, and more.
The point is, it's vital to take control of this information. You could lose out on valuable business if your phone, address, phone, website, or email is incorrect. The easiest way to fix these errors is to invest time into correcting them.
Business listing management doesn't have to be a nightmare
G.I. Joe always used to say "knowing is half the battle." A business listing scan will tell you how many errors you have.
Whether you have a few errors or hundreds, there are dozens of ways to take control of this information. Some of the platforms we use at SIX are simply awesome. They correct all of your business listings as well as protect that information from ever being changed without your knowledge.
We can also push updated information out to all the business listing directories in one single click. That means we can help a client change their phone number, update their address, or push a promotional message to more than 100 sites in one fell swoop. Plus, we can manage reviews in real-time by using a local listings partnership network.
You don't necessarily need a business listings platform to correct errors — that is, if you have plenty of time on your hands. You can set up a login with each of the listing directories and manually manage all of them. If your time is valuable, however, you should know that management platforms are extremely affordable and the right marketing partner can help you improve your local SEO.
Business listings & local SEO recap
You need to be in charge of the way your business is positioned online to your clients and customers. Inaccurate information could cost you sales and hurt your customer service. The first step is to run a scan and see if you have any errors. You can do that right here, with our own free scan:
When you receive the results of your scan, you'll have the option to request some feedback from our team. You can fix each error on your own or have us correct them for you; whatever works best for your business. If you want our help, we're happy to assist, but if not, you'll have a free report to reference as you begin fixing your listings.
Once your listing errors are managed properly, your local SEO will increase and your business will begin to show up higher in search results. It all starts with taking control of your business listings.