The Importance of Local Listing Optimization

Everybody loves to support local businesses.

While large corporate chains are recognizable and reliable, there's always a certain charm that local community businesses bring that the big brands can't match.

What they lack in visibility and brand awareness, they often make up for through quality, hard work, and friendly service.

It turns out that Google and other search engines love local businesses too.

Even though they don't have the marketing budget or web traffic that big corporations do, Google still loves to give small businesses in a community some prime real estate on results pages.

Local optimization is key to any business taking advantage of this.

One of the most important factors in local search engine optimization is online business listings. Read on to learn more about why it's so important to list your business and how to do it right.

What is a Business Listing?

A business listing is any location on the web where information about your company is published.

In the SEO industry, business listings are commonly called NAP citations - NAP being an acronym for Name, Address, and Phone number.

NAP citations are basically the current generation's version of having your website listed in the phone book. They tell people who you are, what you do, where you are, and how to contact you.

There are numerous websites on the internet that allow businesses to list their business in their directory.

Many of these directory websites specialize in online reviews, such as Yelp and the Better Business Beauru.

Other places where you can list your business are more social in nature, such as setting up business profiles on Facebook or Twitter.

Perhaps the most important business listing destinations are right on the search engines themselves. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines offer free listing features that can give you some extra SEO perks (more on that later).

There are plenty of places to post your business information online, but why is it so important for you to do it? Here are a few reasons.

Local Optimization Requires You to be Local

If you want to take advantage of the benefits search engines give to local businesses, it's pretty important to show that you are, in fact, a local business.

Your NAP citations give verification that you are located in a given area. Obviously, your address is a key part of this, as details like what city you're in and what road you're on can help search algorithms put your information in front of the right eyes.

Your phone number is also a factor. Having a local area code shows that you're indeed based in that location, and not running the business through some sort of proxy or call center.

You're Present on More than Your Website

Doesn't your website say where you are? Why would you need to post that information elsewhere?

The simple answer is that the internet is a big place. It's better to be in several locations than isolated in one. Business listings are part of boosting your overall online presence.

A good chunk of people looking for a business like yours will not find a place through their website. With so many businesses to consider, they first look for aggregations and recommendations. After they find a few candidates, they'll then visit those company's websites for further information.

If you're not listed on aggregator sites and directories, you're inhibiting yourself from reaching the people who would have never visited your website on their own.

You Control the Details

Your business might already have a listing online thanks to user-submitted information and crowdsourcing. If you haven't made a page for yourself, a fan or critic of yours may have created something in your stead.

Unfortunately, if you don't control the page, you don't control the details. Maybe your company name is spelled wrong, or your phone number or hours of operation are outdated.

Inconsistency across NAP citations is a big problem for local SEO optimization. Algorithms cross-examine different listings to ensure accuracy and validate the legitimacy of your business. If incorrect information is listed about your business online, it could negatively impact your local search ranking.

To prevent this, be sure to claim your business page on any major directories and update it with the correct details.

More Links = Better SEO

An important factor in search rankings is backlinks to your website.

If other websites link to your websites, it shows search algorithms that web address is a valid place for people to visit. This is especially impactful if the backlinks come from websites that are already known to search engines as authoritative and trustworthy.

Most business listings allow you to include a URL to your company site. By creating citations, you help to build a wider network of links coming to and from your site, giving your search ranking a shot in the arm.

Special Search Engine Perks

Many search engines have features that let businesses upload their information directly to the search engine.

The most prominent example of this is Google My Business. Bing and Yahoo have similar programs.

It makes sense that setting up a business listing with a search engine will give some extra SEO benefits.

For example, setting up a business page on Google My Business will create a special information box about your company on the results page. If somebody searches for your business, all your most important information is easily visible and accessible.

Google My Business also ties into Google Maps. Your business may pop up as a named location, and clicking on your name on the map will pull up your information.

An affiliation with GMB can also increase your chances of appearing on the local 3-pack, a coveted above-the-fold location on a results page.

Despite the many benefits of Google My Business, only 44% of companies have taken advantage of this free feature. Even fewer companies have claimed pages on Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and other listing sites.

By ensuring your local optimization through setting up business listings, you're giving yourself a foot up on the competition.

Get Help With Local Optimization

Creating business citations are a major part of optimizing your local presence online. But local SEO takes a lot of other work too, and sometimes you need to call in the experts.

For more help with local optimization, contact us today.