As a small business, being found online by your customers is key to successful marketing, but did you know that you can use your online listings to improve visibility of your business in search engine results?
Why business listings?
Maintaining your online listings by making sure that they’re accurate, consistent and regularly updated, sends positive signals to search engines like Google, which will then help your business get found easier in local search results.
This is important as a Patek Analytics Study found that 97% of customers do online research before buying a product or service, and that most people look at an average of 7.9 different sources, including business listings, before making a buying decision. So being visible to your local customers is critical to growing your sales.
1. First, Google your business
The best way to get started is to Google your own business name, and then see where you show up in Yellow Pages, Yelp and other listings. As a small business owner it’s important to check that all your business information across the internet is correct and up to date so customers are being given the correct details.
If details aren’t correct, each directory will give you the option to update the information. Some take longer than others so it’s best to follow up in a week or two to make sure that the information has been changed. It may seem like a long and tiresome activity, but there are tools out there that can make the process simpler by giving you one place to claim and update all your listings.
2. Ensure that your local business listings are comprehensive and consistent
One of the most effective ways to get found online as a local business is to make sure that your listing information is consistent across the range of online business directories. This is important because Google and other search engines constantly scan these sites to develop a stronger understanding of the local web and your business. When your business isn’t listed, or your information is incomplete or inaccurate, your placement in search results may be negatively impacted.
If Google sees your business listed with different names, addresses and phone numbers, it will think that each of those is a different business. Be sure to check and update this information whenever there are changes to your business details.
3. Take ownership
While you’re doing this, check if there is an option to claim, manage or take ownership of your listing. In many cases you will not have submitted your business information to these directories yourself – they will have picked it up from the web. Wherever you can, claim your own listing, update the business information, and if possible add a link to your own website.
It’s important to find the right mix of directories for your business. With the influence that Google now has, it’s vital your business is listed through Google My Business, so you can take advantage of people searching for local businesses using the Google search engine. If you sell products, consider adding them to comparison shopping websites and product listing sites like shopzilla.co.uk or Google Shopping.
4. Ensure they are rich and descriptive
Build out your listings with photos, videos, website address and other information to make your listings more informative and attractive to potential customers. You could even add team profiles, short videos or pictures of your best work to help your business stand out from the crowd.
5. Review and update regularly
It’s important to note, reviewing and updating your listings isn’t just a one-time thing. To make the most of them and increase effectiveness you need to ensure that they’re something you’re reviewing regularly and enriching with relevant updates and information.
Having updated listings is not only good for search engines that process the information, it also sends a good signal to potential customers that you’re being proactive and putting their needs at the forefront of your business. Customers want the most relevant and up-to-date information at that time, so by giving them this you’re enhancing their experience with your business.
6. Keep track of where you’re listed
It’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of all your listings and the name and password you use to sign in. This way, if you change any important details for your business, such as phone number or store address, you can log in and make the necessary changes.
Keeping track is extremely useful as you’ll have a reference for which listings you’ve taken ownership of, and it also ensures you don’t forget any when it comes to updating and regularly reviewing them. Making a note of the last date you made an update will help you to keep track of progress, especially if you have lots of listings and aren’t able to review them all in one session or sitting.
If all this seems too time-consuming, there are services out there that can do the job for you, updating all your listings in one step. Whichever way you choose to maintain them, one thing’s for sure – business listings can help boost visibility and profitability, so now is the perfect time to make them part of your marketing plan.