Does your business standout to local consumers through local business listings? Is your business dependent upon the local geography for your revenue? If you’re not using local business listings as an additional marketing tool to reach consumers then you are missing out on a significant local marketing tool. Considering that local business listings show up on the first page of search results, in mobile searches and in mobile applications this is a free local marketing tool you don’t want to ignore. The only way local listings show up in these various search results is if you have managed your listings by entering marketing information. If you’re wondering how to enter your marketing information it begins by claiming your listing. By no means should you think this process starts and ends with Google. There are multiple search engines, social communities, 411 websites, GPS websites and various other business directories that are in this space of yellow page listings for consumers and mobile application developers. It is equally important to keep in mind that this is not a one time process. You have to manage these listings by updating your keywords, photos (products, services, company), videos (TV commercials and others), coupons (discounts, offers) and events (promotions) on a regular basis. After all, these are the interactive yellow pages of the 21st century for businesses and you can update your marketing information 24x7x365. If you’re wondering what I mean by “interactive” keep in mind that consumers get to post their reviews about your business, products or services. As the business owner it is important to get satisfied customers to post their feedback in order to negate any negative reviews. If you do get negative reviews, there is a process that allows you to dispute them either as a rebuttal, an apology or an acknowledgement. This process adds a new layer of public relations at the local business level. Local business is defined as any business dependent upon the local consumer for their revenue. Local business does not just mean small business or franchise business but also includes national companies that have a presence in local markets. Let’s take a look at the five reasons why you probably want to outsource having a subject matter expert company with experience and expertise to manage this for your company at multiple local listing websites.
1. You Have a Marketing Need for Revenue
You have to manage these listings by updating your: keywords, description and general text copy, photos (products, services, company), videos (tv commercials and others), coupons (discounts, offers), and events (promotions) …..on a monthly basis! And don’t stop at Google, keep going to Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Local.com, Citysearch, Ask.com and many others that are quickly becoming consumer favorites.
2. You Have a Public Relations Need
Consumers have the ability to post their experience with your business, products or services to these local listings. This is not confined to B2C, but is entirely open for B2B relationships as well. While it never requires a request for a customer to post a negative review, businesses need to consider how they plan on asking satisfied customers to post positive reviews.
Reviews have a quantitative component to them and thus are open to search engines using them as another data point in the future to rank your website. Anyone posting a review can indicate one star (negative) to five stars (positive). For future planning it is important to push for as many positive reviews as possible.
What do you do with negative reviews? You have to do something! You cannot let them sit in your local listing on multiple websites for customers to interpret. Your options include: dispute, rebuttal or apologize. Keep in mind that customer reviews are syndicated around the web from one local listing website to another.
3. You Have a Security Need
Your local business listing is a free marketing service provided by a variety of local business listing websites, search engines, social communities, 411 websites, business directories and more. So, what should you as a business expect for free? Probably not much and that includes the level of security around these local business listings. The reality is that someone can hijack your listing and manage the listing either against you or in their favor. In order to avoid a local business listing hijacking you will need to insure that you claim your listing at multiple local listing websites.
While claiming your listing is a good starting point, there is also the monitoring of duplicate listings entering into the information system that need to be claimed continually. We will address this issue in more detail next week and we encourage you to read some of our previous discussions on local listing security.
4. You Have a Data Accuracy Need
Information about your business on the Internet comes from multiple sources and from sources over many years of selling data. We have seen many situations where business names vary, phone numbers are inaccurate, addresses and map markers are not correct and the list goes on.
Once again, this is not something that stops at Google, but needs to be reviewed, monitored and managed at multiple local listing websites in order to insure customers have access to the most accurate information possible. You do not want to miss mobile application developers either as they decide randomly whose database they will use.
5. You Have a Time Resource Need
As you hopefully have learned from our discussions here is the time resources needed to claim, update, monitor, and manage your local listings at multiple local listings websites. Since the process does not end with your work being completed one time, it becomes a regular monthly process that has to be managed.
Nor is this process entirely automated and requires experienced marketing labor resources in order to make decisions. For example information consistency across multiple local listing websites; analyzing monthly local listing analytics to take actionable changes to your listing at multiple local listing websites; responding to consumer reviews at their origin since consumer reviews are syndicated across many different local listing websites; and, we can keep making this list longer.
Ultimately, a local business (large or small) will not have the time resources to manage these local listings effectively and the support of experienced Internet marketing professionals will be required.