Small business owners are always looking for the best ways to get more customers, clients and patients.
Seems that most are focusing on content and social media marketing, but there’s a basic marketing tactic that’s even more important to your online marketing arsenal: local listings.
According to BrightLocal, 69% of consumers are searching for a local business at least 6 times a year. That means you!
That’s why focusing on your local listings, and ensuring they’re correct and accurate is so important. The purpose of local listings, or citations, is to make your local business more visible on the internet. Each new listing is a new webpage where your business can be found, as well as a place your website is linked to. Meaning more places your business can be found and linked to.
Google wants to ensure its users have a great experience so they come back and use the search engine again and again – because they’re finding what they’re looking for. That’s why they show the most relevant results to searchers. Your small business wants those Google searchers to find you when they search. The way to do that is to ensure your local listings are complete.
Local Listings Give You Control
Your local business has a lot of competition, between the big companies and the other small businesses around you, your audience is being pawed at from all angles. Claiming your business online and ensuring all information is correct and accurate lets you control what searchers will see. After all, you don’t want people calling the wrong number and/or going to a location that is no longer there, right? The more consistent and complete your listings are, the greater the visibility you’ll get.
Search for your business on Google. See how it appears, especially the information on the right side. My coffee and smoothie business stands out because everything someone would want to know – address, phone number, hours, pictures, reviews, etc – are all there. If your business has blank information it’s not going to get attention. If it has incorrect information, it’s going to make that visitor angry.
Listings aren’t just for search engines, they provide information for people searching for your products and services. Did you know that 60% of local businesses don’t even have a phone number on their website? By having a complete and up-to-date local listing, prospective clients can easily reach you.
You don’t have to be a genius at SEO (search engine optimization) to reap the SEO benefits of local listings. If your business is listed on 100+ directories online, you’ll get valuable links back to your website.
Local Listings Level the Playing Field
As a small local business, it may seem intimidating to compete against the “big guys”. You don’t have the deep pockets they do. Focusing on your local listings is your best competitive advantage. This is how a small local coffee shop can compete – and beat – a big guy like Starbucks. When you take the time to optimize your local listings, appeal to local customers and drive more reviews, your business will benefit from local search.
Most directories are free to be listed on and, as previously mentioned, provide the benefit of visibility, as well as links back to your local business’ website. So when someone searches “coffee shop” on any search engine, not only will the nearest Starbucks appear, but the local coffee shop will, too. That local shop can very well even be the first result on that page.
Reviews Play into Local Listings too
Google My Business isn’t the only directory that will link your listing to online reviews, many of the most biggest and most visited directories, such as Yelp, include reviews as well. 88% of people trust trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends meaning that they may be able to find your business through directories but if the reviews are bad, they may not go to your business. Supplement your local listings with reviews – and respond to them – for a powerful and inexpensive marketing strategy.
Ratings matter. A small change in your business’ rating can make a huge difference in the number of new customers, clients and patients that will contact you. On Yelp a business with 3.5 stars versus 3 stars is 63% more likely to be contacted. Many small business owners worry about negative ratings. Don’t! People actually expect to see some negative comments – it balances things out. Where you can focus your efforts is to turn negative reviews into positive ones. Just by responding to reviews, 33% of negative reviews turn positive. That can easily give you a half-star boost. Here’s 3 little known hacks to improve your Yelp score.
New to local listings? You can get started by claiming your local business listing beginning with Google, Bing and Yelp. While those aren’t the only directories to be listed in its a good place to start. Ultimately your business should get listed in the over 400 main directories that are available.
Just imagine. If your business were listed online in 400 different places, and all of the information in them was complete and accurate, would it increase your chances of getting found online? You betcha! So make sure local listings are a key focus of your digital marketing plan.
NOTE: Many small business owners realize the time and effort it takes to keep up with their local listings and getting/responding to online reviews. The Small Biz Marketing Specialist can help! Contact us and we’ll put together a customized local marketing plan to take your business to the next level.
About Stacey Riska
Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.