How to Gain Control of Your Local Business Listings
Today’s mobile-first consumer wants accurate answers quickly. With half of smartphone users visiting a local store within a day of their search, an incorrect or incomplete online listing is practically a one-way ticket to a business’s competitor.
Let’s consider a consumer new to an area looking for a bite to eat. She searches for “restaurants near me” and your restaurant comes up in her search. You offer her favorite cuisine and have great customer reviews, so she’s ready to make the restaurant her new go-to spot. However, your address is listed inaccurately. When she gets to the location and your business is not there, she searches again and finds a different restaurant down the street. Let’s assume that she has a great experience and that creates loyalty to this restaurant for the next several years. Think of all the sales you missed simply because your address was listed incorrectly in a search. The key here was her experience with local. Your business had almost everything in place to acquire a new loyal customer, except for the most critical and fundamental item: your basic listing information. This gave way to a competitor winning over the customer and possibly their future business.
A stand-out local strategy starts with nailing the fundamentals — ensuring your NAP (name, address and phone) is correct and consistent across all local search sites. The next step is to build on that with additional content about your business such as category, photos, hours of operation and payment type accepted. This rich detail can take a listing to the next level and ultimately help consumers make their decision.
But many businesses, particularly SMBs, might be asking themselves: If accurate, rich local listings are really that important, what can I do to influence the information consumers find about my business online?
The short answer is to work with search engines and data aggregators by providing correct, as well as relevant, details about your business and taking advantage of their distribution network. Below we will walk through a step-by-step approach on how those details should be provided in order to take full advantage of the power of your business listing.
Accurate Listings Lead to More Sales
Consumers are most likely to act when they conduct a search about a business. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of local searches are completed in under an hour, according to research from YP Marketing Solutions. These local searches include information such as pricing, reviews, availability, pictures, etc.
Once research is complete, consumers are ready to shop. The same study found that half of smartphone users visit a store within a day of their local search, and the same goes for nearly a third (34 percent) of computer/tablet users. Perhaps most importantly, consumers searching for local business are ready to buy. Eighteen percent of local searches lead to sales within a day, compared to 7 percent of non-local searches.
In other words, consumers search for local business information because they want to make purchases quickly. If they’re unable to find the information they need about a business, they will not hesitate to take their wallets elsewhere. Given how easy it is for shoppers today to turn to competition, businesses relying on brick-and-mortar sales will be smart to ensure that their local listings are accurate.
Start with NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number)
The foundation of a solid, accurate listing starts with a business’s name, address and phone number. Here’s a closer look at the guidelines when submitting your NAP.
- Name: Your goal is to be found in the real world, and your business name should reflect how consumers see your business in the real world. For most businesses, this means how their business name appears on their storefront. For others, it means how their business is represented on their website. Don’t make the mistake of trying to include taglines or keywords into your company name. This creates inconsistency in how your business is found online and can have a significant negative impact on local search sites treat your business.
- Address: Submitting an accurate physical address is critical for businesses with a storefront. A slight error can mean the difference between being found or being invisible to a mapping application — and ultimately your potential customer. The simplest piece of advice is to submit your physical address in a standardized format that matches your country’s postal service’s version. This does not mean, however, to submit a P.O. Box address when you have a physical address. Your goal is to be found, right? Other tips include submitting a suite number if you have one. When relevant, data aggregators also allow you to include the name of the anchor or host business that your business resides within, so shoppers are not confused when they do not see you at the address listed. For example, a Starbucks inside a Target should list its complete address correctly and note that it is located within the Target store, per instructions of your data aggregator. Finally, if you are a service-area business, work with your data aggregator to ensure you follow their guidelines. Do not “create” physical addresses for your business that are false. Spam addresses like this are not highly regarded by local search sites and can hurt your business.
- Phone: List the local phone number for your business consistently across all channels. Do not list toll-free numbers, tracking numbers or numbers for call centers. If a customer is interested in speaking with someone at your local location, she’ll be turned off if she sees a 1-800 number or finds inconsistent numbers from different sources.
Further Refine Your Listing With More Detail
Ensuring your business name, address and phone number is accurate is just the start for businesses looking to improve their local strategy. Businesses also need to be diligent about ensuring other details about their locations are accurate and consistent.