The internet has made it possible to connect with consumers far and wide, far beyond the boundaries of your neighborhood, state, or even your country. But even though the digital realm allows small businesses to potentially reach billions of people around the world, you’re going to need to think local to turn that exposure into lucrative business transactions—here’s why:
- More than half of all searches are conducted on a mobile device. One-third of those searches are location-based and a whopping 78% resulted in an in-store purchase.
- Search queries including “near me” or “close by” have increased over 900% over the past 5 years. Nearly 30% of them, both mobile and desktop searches, resulted in a purchase.
- About 46% of all Google’s 5.6 billion daily searches are seeking local information.
The message is clear: consumers with high levels of intent are shopping in the places closest to them. If you’re failing to tap into your local market, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Regardless of whether you sell a physical product, an intangible service, have a brick-and-mortar location or are a purely online business, you first need to establish yourself in regional and location-specific SERPs. To do this, you’ll need to enlist the aid of your friendly local business listing.
What Is A Local Listing?
Local listings are the citations that include basic business information such as your company name, address, and phone number (referred to by marketers as N.A.P.). Certain listings might allow the inclusion of additional information such as a website (great for building backlinks), images or a logo, business hours, a business description, or a list of services.
These listings are located in directories such as Yelp and the Yellow Pages, but technically, can include any place where your business information is accessible online including social media profiles, digital press releases, and more.
How Do Local Listings Help With SEO?
Local listings are key to making yourself discoverable. They are your business’ way of saying “I’m over here!” and indicating that you’re relevant when search engine users are in a particular geographical location. Having multiple listings with identical information (consistency is crucial and something we’ll talk about later) serves as confirmation that you are indeed a local business. The stronger your local (digital) presence, the more likely you are to rank for those coveted “near me” and other location-based queries.
The Growing Importance of Online Reviews
Additionally, maintaining up-to-date listings is tantamount to maintaining your online reputation. Many of the directories where local listings are hosted also provide users the ability to engage with those businesses by leaving reviews and ratings. While this feedback can obviously be hugely impactful to potential customers, it’s not just human eyeballs that we’re concerned about.
According to a recent study, reviews make up 16% of search engine rankings. Google and other search engines tend to reward businesses that have better reputations (i.e. positive reviews). This can affect both the search engine results page and directories like Google Maps. Just as backlinks signal to search engines that other websites have found your content to be useful and desirable, customer reviews can indicate whether your business is legitimate and trustworthy.
Reviews also provide the added benefit of providing fresh fodder for bots to crawl. New content is always a good thing. Since reviews are associated with your business, your website could stand to benefit.
Where Can I List My Business For Free?
By now you’re probably rarin’ to roll up your sleeves and start creating some free business listings. There are a lot of directories out there, with many being dedicated to specific locations or industries. These are the most essential local listing directories that apply to all types of businesses and have high authority, and should be targeted first:
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
- Bing Places
- Apple Maps
As we mentioned before, don’t forget about social media profiles. It’s important to be where your customers are, especially for the biggest and most popular platforms. And while some directories require payment to include certain details about your business (like a logo or a website), social media accounts are completely free to make and manage. Even if you aren’t active on these platforms, making an account is highly recommended, even if it’s just to claim your username for your business:
Things To Keep In Mind When Getting Started
As straightforward as the basics of local listings are, there can be a surprising degree of nuance to them. Just as is the case with backlinks, not all of the free directory sites you find will be good ones. Adding your listing to a spammy directory can end up costing you.
When it comes to the actual creation of these listings, preparation is everything. Before you begin, you’ll want to have an email domain that matches your business’ namesake (we recommend having a dedicated email address that’s completely separate from one that you use for conducting business or interacting with customers).
Have all of your business information located in an easily accessible document. It’s of the utmost importance that all of your listings are identical down to the punctuation. Any variation of your N.A.P. (name, address, phone number) could undo hours of hard work and defeat the purpose of local listings in the first place.
Benefits of Listing Management with an Agency
Listings are vital to a healthy SEO campaign and an important subset of the search engine optimization industry. As you can imagine from reading the above, this process can be time-consuming and, if we’re honest, a bit tedious. Certain directories will require proof of ownership, email or phone verifications, or a several-day verification period.
If you don’t have the time to set aside an hour or two a few days out of the week, get an agency like Buzzbait Consulting to step in. With years of listing management experience, we know the ins and outs of link building and can get you the most SEO bang for your buck. In addition to creating listings for a beneficial backlink profile, we manage and monitor all existing backlinks to ensure nothing but positive SEO juice heads your way.