Its no secret that consumers are turning to online resources other than a businesss website to conduct research about that business. Sites like Yelp, Yahoo!, and Google+ have been doubling down on their efforts to procure online reviews. In fact, Google has been working hard to revamp their G+ pages as 85% of online customers use reviews found on local directory sites before they make a purchase. With so many of these sites available today, you can no longer afford to not pay attention to them. At the same time, submitting business listings to such sites is not a task that should be taken lightly. There are many things that you should be aware of when beginning local search efforts.
Beware of Frankenstein
When submitting listings to a local directory site, you may be surprised to find that you already have a listing up on it and may wonder how it was placed there. Chances are if you or an outside company never worked to create listings on local directories, then the site created the listing you are seeing.
Several local directory sites create Frankenstein listings; in other words, they will flag information from across the web anything from an address on your website to a phone number on your G+ page to create their own listings. The sites have pulled this content because they have deemed it relevant, meaning they think these specific fields are the most trustworthy and most likely to be correct.
If you are not actively creating or monitoring these listings, your consumers could be led to an inaccurate address, call the wrong number, or visit an incorrect website, potentially causing them to no longer consider your business when conducting online research. Its important to catch these Frankensteins before you lose leads from them. By claiming and editing these listings, you will be able to ensure that consumers viewing local directory sites will only see the most up-to-date information.
Beware of Duplicate Listings
Duplicate listings are found when more than one entry exists for the same business on the same local directory site. They will be similar to the listings that you create or claim, but some minor details will differ (e.g., an old website, address, phone number). Sites can either Frankenstein a duplicate listing together, or the entry may have been created a long time ago.
In the past, local directory sites would comb through phonebooks and manually enter a business information onto their websites so that they would have the most comprehensive directory online. Unfortunately, this led to several errors and outdated information. More often than not when creating a listing on a local directory, the site will direct you to an existing listing that you can then claim and edit. However, if an existing listing for your business has a misspelled name or slightly different contact information, the site wont ask you to claim and edit the existing listing. You will instead create a duplicate listing, meaning potential consumers may go to the outdated listing, thereby costing you leads.
It is important to check for and remove these duplicates on any local directory site you may have a listing on, especially if your business has changed any information. By monitoring for duplicate listings, you will make it so that your consumers only see the information that you maintain on the local directories.
Beware of Free Tools
There are several tools available that are meant to help you manage local listings online. These tools range in price, but some are free to use. Though they can be helpful, it is important to be very wary of these free tools. As is often the case with anything free, you get what you pay for. Here are some problems our team found while using a free tool to scan the listings of one of our clients:
The free tool flagged several local directory sites, indicating that the business did not have a listing on the site, when in fact the business did have listings on these flagged directories.
The tool flagged fields address, phone number, name on individual listings as incorrect or missing when they were in fact filled in and correct on the site.
The tool prompted our team to create listings on content aggregators, which typically is a best practice when individually managing listings; however, listings had already been created and optimized on these aggregators.
The tool incorrectly flagged duplicate listings when our team had claimed listings on local directory site.
As you can see from these potential pitfalls, it is best to enlist the help of professionals or pay for a local search tool that you can manage online.
Local search is essential in creating a unified online persona for your business. In doing so, you can ensure that when your consumers look for you on local directory sites they will be seeing the correct information every time. This may take considerable time and resources but it will pay off huge in the long run.