58% of people say they use their smartphone DAILY to find and search for local businesses, while another 71% say they use local search to find and confirm the location of a business before they visit it for the first time. With customers so often relying on local search and business listings to get them where they need to go, it’s critical that your information is accurate and consistent across the web.
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The Consequences of Inaccurate Local Business Listings
Across all industries, it is estimated that nearly $10.3 billion worth of sales are lost every year because of wrong, missing, or incomplete local listing information. Customers using local search are ready to make a purchase and Inaccurate listing data only inhibits their ability to do so. 44% of customers have felt that outdated or inaccurate business listings have ruined their shopping experience and dissuaded them from making a purchase.
Not only is bad listing information impacting your sales, but it’s having a negative influence on your visibility and rankings in the local search results. Local listings data is responsible for over 45% of how Google determines your rankings, making listings management the most influencing factor when it comes to your visibility in the local search results.
With listings being such a contributing factor to the local search rankings, it’s surprising to see just how many businesses are dealing with inaccurate, missing or outdated information. The real estate industry tops the charts with 57% of listings having incorrect or missing data, followed by insurance companies with 55%, retail stores with 43%, restaurants with 41%, and finance and banking with 40%.
4 Tips to Optimize Your Listings for Local Marketing Success:
- Know the difference between foundational and competitive ranking factors
Having accurate and consistent listings across tier 1 citation sources has been classified as one of the top foundational local search ranking factors. Foundational factors are those factors that a business must have in order to even be eligible to rank on Google, without them you will never have a chance. However, once you have these factors, that’s it, you can’t implement them more often or better than another business who has them in order to rank higher.
This means that your goal is to aim for 100% accuracy and consistency across all of your listings for all of the tier 1 citation sources. Doing so should be the first step you take towards optimizing your listings.
- Complete listing data
First, you will want to verify all of your local listings. Verified and complete listings save your customers time and builds confidence. Google states that businesses whose listings are verified are twice as likely to be considered “reputable” by their customers. By supplying customers with more information, a verified and complete listing thereby increases confidence that a business is legitimate, still exists and that the information presented is accurate.
In addition to verified listings, your business name (full local seo naming guideline here), address or service area, phone number, website, store hours and correct business category all fall under the category of “must have”. This is the foundational information that both customers and search engines are looking for.
Caution: When it comes to listing information, It may be tempting to “set it and forget it”, but maintaining up-to-date information is just as important for you listing accuracy. If you have seasonal hours, adjusted holiday hours, an new phone number etc., be sure that your listings reflect any of those changes or updates.
- Duplicate Suppression v.s. Reduction
For starters, a duplicate listing exists any time you have more than one listing on a given platform (like Google My Business or Facebook Places) representing a single location. These could exist for any number of reasons, but the bottom line is that they create confusion among search engines and customers, and have a negative impact on your ability to rank well in the local search results.
“What is duplicate suppression, what is duplicate reduction and which one do I need?”
Duplicate Reduction: In comparison, duplicate reduction is the act of MANUALLY claiming the duplicate listings and either merging them into the primary listing or marketing them as closed.
This method will permanently remove duplicates on the major directory sites, eliminating confusion for searchers and producing positive search engine and directory visibility returns.
Duplicate suppression: This is a term coined by a popular listing management company in the US. They figured out a way to scale their duplicate removal feature by allowing the customer to manually click on a duplicate suppression button in their dashboard. This then flags the duplicate and makes it hidden from the public.
The issue with duplicate suppression however, is that the service is not even offered for any of the major search directories i.e., Google, Bing, Yelp, Facebook; Duplicate suppression has no way of hiding or updating information on any of these search directories. In addition, the duplicate suppression is not permanent. It only remains so long as you keep paying for the duplicate suppression service.
- Additional Bonus Factors
Once your listings are verified, accurate and deduplicated, it is time to add some additional features to your listings to help boost your rankings in the local search results. These factors help you to stand out from the competition, give customers a sense of what your business is like and convince them that you are the best option.
Photos, ratings and reviews are a couple of the most common factors that customers turn to when they are researching a business online. Photos, both professionally taken and those taken by previous customers are great because customers will turn to them as a visual cue for what type of quality your business is, make sure you are putting your best foot forward with some high quality, professional photos While ratings and reviews (Link to ratings and reviews blog) are a great resource for customers to turn to when they want to read first hand accounts of what other peoples experiences were like.
In addition to photos, ratings and reviews, you can also add attributes, Q&A sections and even relevant posts to your listings. All of these bonus factors help to add clarity to your listings and only helps to build trust with your customers and maintain their interest/attention. As a rule of thumb, you should try to make your listings as complete as possible by filling out all of the fields each directory has available.
Search engines are looking to ensure that your business is trustworthy and will be a reliable recommendation option when customers search for your product or service. Verification, accuracy, consistency and duplicate reduction are the “must dos” for any business looking to get found online. Schedule your FREE demo to learn more about Chatmeter's complete listings management services!