Local Listings: Why it's so important to the small business
Why are so many business owners not utilizing such an important tool? Beats me! What I can tell you is there are many solutions and in this article I will break down the importance of local listings and the benefits that come along with them.
As a marketer I often find myself asking questions I feel are so obvious they almost slap you dead in the face. It boggles my mind wondering how there are so many small business owners who feel they have it all figured out yet have been sitting idle in the online marketing world since the early 80s. ”I don't need this and don't need that" they tell me. It's either, "my customers have been around since my great grandfather started this company" or” I don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get found on the internet" or "If my customers want me they'll call me and I’ll give them directions". But my favorite one is when I ask, "well ok what about new customers lol", they reply, “Well word of mouth has been my best form of marketing". Ok, um yea, anyway, what business owner wants more business, that's just absurd right? It's truly nonsense lack of knowledge and fear of change.
The point of marketing is to reach the broadest audience your budget allows increasing customer retention both new and loyal, thus increasing your R.O.I (return on investment). I guess if you live in an extremely small town with population 1000 you’re good in that respect, but to assume everyone in the town knows who you are and where you're located is simply arrogance. People grow up and move on with their lives, some move to other cities, towns, states and even countries. Some people even die, yea its true! Generations fade out and things change, out with the old in with the new. Businesses change information and locations often, from a simple phone number to a whole new location. Maybe you have more than one location as well, maybe you plan to rebrand your business in the future or intend on introducing a new product or service. Point is, you must be visible on the internet and easily accessible to customers or you will lose so much business and brand awareness you can't even begin to imagine the repercussions.
Let's put things in perspective, if a customer is looking for a particular product, food or service the first thing they do is pull out their mobile phone, desktop, laptop or tablet and google. Most likely, the first place that pops up is their choice or interest. If you get really lucky, they will actually scroll down enough to see what's underneath the top three paid ad suggestions. So how do you compete in a world where everyone is fighting for the top spot or front page of Google? Well a great place to start is to make sure all of your business information is correct on every search engine, review site, directory and social site across the board.
Not to mention listings expand your visibility and allow you to add visual content such as pictures, video etc. This helps to increase sales and exposure. It gives the consumer a clear picture of what it is you’re pitching them to purchase. Most importantly, Over 90% of consumers now use search engines to shop locally.
Let's talk about the benefits of local listings:
Advertising your business locally is huge in the sense of brand development and brand awareness. I mean, the more people exposed to your business and the more accessible you are online, the more people are likely to utilize your services or buy your product. If people can't find your website or track you down via internet, then how can you expect them to know what you're selling? So not only are directories great for website exposure, There also a great way to reach out to a specific audience and capture their attention.
Local Listings also allow you to promote whatever product(s) or service(s) you are offering. You can focus on a specific city, town, state and even target zip codes, or you can just go for the gusto and advertise nationally or internationally. You can target a specific audience as well. But we will talk about that more in depth later. Most of this is done utilizing certain paid services offered through Google AdWords, Yelp Advertising, Yellow Pages, Bing Ads and many more. Some advertisement is even free depending on the listing platform.
Getting your business on every listing directory, social site, review site and search engine and insuring your business information is updated and keeping it updated across the board is also great for SEO, another important factor we will discuss more in depth later. Be sure to get on every listing directory that applies to your business, the more directories you're on the bigger your brand becomes, and the easier it is for your business to be found by potential customers searching for your product(s) or service(s). There are hundreds of directory listings so doing it yourself is going to take you an eternity. I strongly recommend doing some research on finding a company who specializes in providing such services.
Cheap Exposure and very cost effective. Yup, you heard that right. It is free to list your business on most search engines, directories, social site and review sites, although you can get enhanced profiles on most as well. Enhancing your profile will be a sure way to place you at the top of the search list when people are looking for your specific product(s) or service(s). Heck, you can even keep competitors off your page and avoid those little pop ups with their annoying little advertisements that are specifically designed to steal your business. But all in all, you can list your business for free if you intend on doing it yourself. Do keep in mind, there are many errors that can be made in doing so, also keep in mind that not having access to all the listings you have created on one single dashboard can become rather impossible to manage as well. So be cautious if you’re planning to DIY and make an excel spreadsheet with all usernames and passwords to each search engine, review site, directory and social site you have created. This will insure that you know which platforms your business is listed on as well as being able to update any changes if necessary along the way without having to constantly reset your password.
SEO is huge and google has changed its algorithm so much that it is getting harder each and every day to figure out what content it will pull or how to obtain solid backlinks and so on. Either way, that is a topic for a different article in itself. Listings and SEO go hand and hand. For one, they get a lot of hits and in result, help to rank highly on major search engines. You must also consider the backlinks from online directories. They have a very high quality for the simple fact they are coming from a reliable and well known source. Plus the one-way links towards your website may help with SEO as well.
Being on local business listings allows you to eliminate the need to hire a web developer for their services to update your website, or for that matter search engine spiders to crawl your web page. In conclusion, you have created an additional source that will self-deliver your business information to search engines directly via the local business listing platform.
Marketing/Advertising is a huge part of your business period. Marketing or Advertising via local directories allows you to be specific as mentioned in the introduction. It allows targeting an audience based on your profile category, product(s) or service(s). You can set up paid campaigns that are aimed at the audience you are trying to capture. Once your campaign has been created, you can then pay close attention to the analytics provided to ensure no missed opportunities. Not everyone will call to buy you product(s) or service(s) but that does not mean there isn't potential there. Analytics will provide you detailed information that will help you in future campaigns.
Local listings are also great for cross promoting social media platforms. What I mean by that is you can attach Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest etc. Thus allowing you to grow your brand and raise awareness. You can gain a lot of free marketing or advertising out of this utilizing post, tweets, pins etc. to promote your product(s) or service(s).
Final thoughts, there is really no way you can mess this up if you follow directions and make sure your information as far as the description of your business, address, phone number, logo etc. are identical on every search engine, review site, directories and social site platform. There are so many benefits to local listings I can't possibly name them all. You would be foolish to not take advantage of such simple methods that would push your business in a thriving direction.
Remember, having duplicate listings or not claiming your listings can hurt your business as well, so be very cautious. Hence the reason I suggest making the investment into a company who specializes in directory listings. This will allow you to get your business information out there to potential customers and guaranteed on every platform that applies to your business within a timely manner (typically within 72 hours). All without having to worry about losing control, making duplicate listings, losing usernames and passwords or just trying to keep track of hundreds of different search engines , review sites, social sites and directories. Let alone if something as simple as a phone number changes. Then you're in for a whole new surprise and headache, you'll regret not taking my advice.
In order to have complete control without losing your mind and being able to change, alter, fix or add information with the click of a button across the board, is to find yourself a professional. Someone who will do the work for you, all while providing you access once the job is done. That way, you can still have control and make the necessary changes you need along the way. But do it now, because time in this respect actually is costing you money and opportunity wasted.