Every year, the importance of online business listings for location-based brands grows. 76% of people who conduct a local mobile search visit a business within 24 hours, but will they visit yours? That’s highly unlikely if they can’t find you on search in the first place.
Modern consumers are searching for local businesses to make purchases online and in-store. Local business listings are one of the most vital and accessible sources of information that can seamlessly connect engaged consumers to your business.
That said, there are many essential tips, tricks, best, and must-dos if you want people to not just find your brand online, but follow through with a store visit and purchase. From verifying business listing accuracy to optimizing listings for fantastic online visibility on search, here are five best practices for listing management success in 2022.
1. Keep Your Listing Information Accurate & Up-To-Date
The search for a business, product, or service typically starts online. 86% of consumers reportedly have used search engines or platforms like Google, Bing, Apple Maps, or Yelp to find local business information. This is where having a complete and up-to-date listing becomes critical. This listing is often the first impression that a consumer experiences about your brand, so make it a great one!
Local business listings provide consumers with important information like your product and service offerings, hours of operation, and more. Each listing should contain your:
- Name of business
- Phone number
An acronym often used to remember these details is called the NAPWCHD.
Although core elements of these listings, such as your name or location, may rarely if ever change, it’s essential to routinely check and refresh listings so that you can be confident consumers are always getting accurate information. Due to suggested edits, reviews, photos, and other user-generated content (UGC) from consumers, the average local business listing changes every 5-6 days.
This is especially true during summer, the holidays, and other special events. An estimated $10.3 billion worth of sales is lost every year due to wrong, missing, or inaccurate information. Keeping your listings optimized will remain vital in maintaining revenue streams, brand credibility, and consumer awareness year-round.
It’s also huge for providing outstanding customer experiences (CX). For example, imagine craving some Mexican food. You look up your favorite taco chain on Google Maps only to find out it’s already closed for the day. Bummer, but with so many other options at your fingertips, you’ll quickly find a delicious alternative and get those tacos another time.
Imagine the heightened frustration if the taco shop’s online listing said it was open. You get in your car and drive to the location with growing anticipation for some epic al pastor and an ice-cold horchata. But then you pull up to discover the restaurant is closed. With your precious time and energy wasted, not to mention an increasingly grumbling stomach, you’ll almost certainly leave that taco shop with a much lower impression of that brand than you did while driving there.
And if you’re one to review a restaurant online, the entire internet can soon read all about that disappointing experience — all for a small detail that could’ve been fixed with a few clicks.
2. Remove All Duplicate Listings
Duplicate listings are multiple business listings for the same location on a directory like Facebook or Google Business Profile, or GBP (formerly Google My Business). The number of duplicate listings from the average large enterprise brand ranges from 3,500 duplicate listings to over 100,000 duplicate listings!
Why do local business listings get duplicated in the first place? There are a variety of reasons. Sometimes, an online business directory, or even a random consumer, will independently create a location listing unbeknownst to the brand itself. Then, when that brand decides to build out local listings, they’ll create a duplicate without even knowing another already exists.
This scenario usually happens if a business location hasn’t been properly claimed by the brand itself, which is why you must claim every online listing. Additionally, people are 70% more likely to attract customers than an unclaimed location.
Duplicate listings can also arise due to spam, data changes, or miscommunication between the company’s team members responsible for creating listings. Regardless of the scenario, duplicate listings are costly for businesses and can lead to a loss in online traffic, revenue, and customer trust.
Aside from creating confusion among consumers and search engines alike, they can impact your rankings too. Inaccurate data across multiple duplicate listings can decrease your ranking efforts because they’re seen as unreliable. If enough consumers report your duplicate listings as a violation, your business may face penalties or even the removal of your listings.
Important as creating accurate listings is, the task might feel daunting, especially for larger multi-location chains. Thankfully, there are great listings management services, software, and tools created to ensure that all of your local listings are protected from duplicates, inaccuracies, and bad data.
3. Think Online Listing Quality Over Quantity
The secret to business listings success is to focus on quality over quantity. You may think that businesses would want to be visible in as many places online as possible. It’s a fair assumption, and not necessarily inaccurate. However, with limited resources, it’s much more critical for your listings to be properly listed in directories where the right customers will find your brand.
Avoid wasting valuable time by quickly throwing up as many listings as possible across every directory and website. Instead, focus on building fantastic, accurate, in-depth listings on fewer high-quality, tier 1 directories.
The top tier 1 business directories to prioritize include:
- Apple Maps
While the exact directories to prioritize may shift depending on your industry or location, the tier 1 directories above hold a lot more weight because they receive far more views than others. As a result, the search algorithm from large search engines pays more attention to a tier 1 directory and pushes your listings higher up the search engine results pages.
4. Add High-Quality Photos
Businesses with lots of great, high-quality photos receive more requests for driving directions and more click-throughs to their website. This makes photos an essential must-have for an optimized presence.
Photos offer an unparalleled look into the products and services at your business locations without curious consumers having to look away from their devices. It’s an incredible and simple way to stand out from the competition and attract great customers.
Just think. If all else were equal, would you choose a clothing store with tons of high-quality photos showing off their most popular outfits, clean and stylish interior, and friendly staff members — or one with no photos where you’d have to walk in sight unseen? Most people would choose the one with pictures.
When adding images to your online listings, think of what visualizations will attract consumers. Common photos include:
- Popular product offerings
- Interior and exterior shots
- Staff members
- Event photos
- Seating options
Another benefit of consistently adding your own photos is that it can drown out any user-generated content submitted by customers. While customer photos can be great as it gives viewers a secondhand observation of your business, they can sometimes be unflattering or completely unrelated to your business.
Even if you can’t immediately delete unwanted photos on directories, you can report them for removal.
5. Utilize Every Google Business Profile Feature
Google Business Profile is single-handedly the most important tool any business owner can have under their belt. Whitespark’s 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors Study found that Google Business Profile signals carry 36% of the weight as the most influential local ranking factor on Google search. That’s up 3% from 2020.
Over the last few years, Google has invested heavily into expanding features available in GBP. These features are largely beneficial in helping businesses engage with customers, highlight specific areas of their business, and increase brand awareness. It also assists customers in choosing the perfect business for their exact wants and needs.
Google Business Profile attributes are an important feature that helps listings show up in local searches for the specific services and features your business offers. There are many newer GBP attributes such as:
- Curbside Pickup
- Outdoor Dining
- Dog Friendly
- Great for Families
- Women Owned Business
- Vegan Options
- Free WiFi
These are just a few of the hundreds of Google’s attribute options. Each one offers more nudges to get your ideal customer’s eyes off the screen and feet moving towards your business.
Google Posts makes it easy to share actionable content that boosts engagement with your consumers. Here are some different types of Google Posts:
- Health Updates: Share any health-related business changes or information related to COVID-19 or other public health issues. This type of post is a great way to remind consumers about any special policies in place.
- Add Offer: Share any special promotions going on, and be sure to include a CTA. You can also provide detailed promotion descriptions, coupon codes, special rates, sales, fine print, or any other important information.
- Add Update: This post type can be used to discuss business information, highlight product, exclusive service offerings, and any other company news.
- Add Event: Highlight any special events taking place at your business with GBP’s Event posts. Event posts come with descriptions, date ranges, hours, and other features.
- Add Product: Leverage product photos to highlight any specific products your business sells. These also include a CTA button where you can direct consumers to book, order online, buy, sign up, and more.
If you’re not taking advantage of Google Q&A, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect and communicate with active online consumers. With Google Q&A, anyone can ask a question to or about your brand via your Google Business Profile. Additionally, anyone can answer it.
If your team doesn’t personally answer every question promptly, someone else likely will. This allows anonymous users ample control of your messaging. These third-party answers can be inaccurate, flat-out wrong, or even lead a willing customer towards a different company.
By actively monitoring your Google Q&A, you’ll ensure that you have accurate, brand-verified answers. It also offers a new avenue for creating great customer experiences at multiple touchpoints.
Fire Up Your Listing Management Success Strategy
Online listings management is necessary for growing your online presence, brick-and-mortar business, and reaching new and returning consumers. Every up-to-date and optimized business listing sets an important foundation for potential customers to find accurate information and gain confidence in your brand online and off.
Remember. Listing management is not a one-and-done job. It’s an ongoing and evolving process that requires consistent attention, updates, optimization, and strategy. The payoff? A positive, seamless online presence and stream of customers eager to get off their devices and into your stores.
Want to find out how accurate and effective your current online location listings are? Request a free online visibility brand audit and learn where you’re succeeding, falling short, and how to improve your online brand presence.