If you wanted to find local listings for businesses 20 years ago, there was only one place to turn: the print yellow pages. This multi-pound business directory delivered to households was the source of truth for business information. Business listings pointed consumers to the names, addresses, and phone numbers of businesses nearby. Any other information desired like store hours or directions required a phone call. If information was incorrect or a business location did not get listed, they’d have to wait until the next print cycle to make updates — missing out on potential business in the interim.
Today, the idea of calling a business to find out operating hours or cross streets seems antiquated as the world has migrated from print to digital to mobile. With nearly 68% of the U.S. population owning smartphones, local listing data is right at our fingertips. Even with the rise of ecommerce, in-store sales will still account for 80% percent of total retail transactions as we approach 2020. Local business listings help bridge this gap, connecting online searchers with offline locations.
Local listings are comprised of information about a business, including the business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP data). However, as business listing sites have evolved, so has the content available within them. Online business listings can now include enhanced content like hours of operation, descriptions, product categories, menus, directions, bios, and images. Nowadays, consumers expect this type of rich content when they search for your business online. These can be the make-or-break decision factors in whether or not a consumer chooses your business over the competition.
The more information about a business available in its local listing, the more likely a consumer is to choose it. In a recent study, it was found that local business listings with rich content received 45%–61% more listing views. With hundreds of business listing portals across the web, businesses cannot control where a consumer will choose to search for information, but they can control what information a consumer finds when they get there.
However, many businesses do not take full advantage of local profile and oftentimes, consumers stumble across incorrect information. If a local listing contains wrong information, the consequences can be detrimental. A business can miss out on potential customers from an incorrect address on a mapping site or a wrong business name in a business directory. Ensuring the accuracy of information in online business listings is crucial for business owners to maintain and scale customer relationships. If you are a business owner, the first step is to get your business listed online then take control of what information is listed.
The business listings ecosystem also spans beyond traditional business directories. It includes sites like Yelp that focus on customer ratings and reviews, mapping and navigation systems like TomTom, Garmin, and Waze, and social media platforms like Facebook and Foursquare. Each of these is a business directory in its own right because it contains information about business locations.
Each online business directory is a great opportunity for business locations, but also a great challenge. With so many business directories out there, how does a business ensure its location is listed correctly across all of them?
Depending on the site, local listings can be updated daily, monthly, or never at all. Unless a business manually claims these listings or uses a 3rd party service to claim them at scale, the potential for incorrect information to be found and displayed by directories is very high. With us managing your local listings, businesses can take control of their local listings and use local organic search as an active marketing channel.