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November 22, 2022

What Is Local Business Listing Management and Why Is It Important?

Learn about business listings management and why it's critical for helping to boost local SEO and CTR with our intro to listings sites & directories.

If you own or manage a business, it's important to make sure your information is accurate on local business listings sites and directories. Why? Because potential customers use these sites to find businesses in their area. If your information is wrong you could be missing out on valuable leads.

And it’s not just about serving the people in your local area with the best set of search results. Accurate business listings and their management are also a fundamental part of any organic “local” SEO effort.

The benefits are many, and it may seem overwhelming to the inexperienced, so the goal here is to give everyone in need a confident head start by the end of this article. Let’s start with the basics…

What is Local Listings Management?


If you've ever done a search for a local business on Google, you've probably noticed the “knowledge graph” box that displays on the right side of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). These often include the business name, address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, reviews, and even photos. This information is pulled from what's called a "business listing," the most well-known and potentially effective of which is Google Business Profile.

Local Listings Management Definition: The process of adding a business to relevant local directories and business listing sites, and making sure that information remains up-to-date, accurate and consistent across sites and over time.

Adding your business to the most authentic local directories and business listing sites, and making sure your information is up-to-date, accurate and consistent, is commonly defined as “local listings management”.

What is a Local Business Site/Directory?

A local business site or directory is a website that provides information about businesses in a particular geographic area. These sites may be national with individual categories for cities/states (Yelp.com, CityOf.com, USChamber.com) or unique to a specific area (Brattleboro.org, LocalTorontoBusiness.ca, DetroitBusinessDirectory.net).

Usually, these sites allow users to search for businesses by category, keyword, or location. In addition, they often provide user-generated reviews and ratings, as well as contact information and maps. Some local business sites also offer the ability for businesses to share and rotate deals or coupons. While most local business sites are free to use, some do charge a subscription fee. Overall, they are a great way for consumers to find information about businesses in their area, and to allow said businesses to control their own online narrative.

So - the goal of a local business site/directory is to help consumers find the goods or services they need, while also providing a platform for those businesses to promote themselves. In recent years, these sites have become increasingly popular, as more and more consumers turn to the internet for information about local businesses and “social proof”.

So Many Options - Where Should I Start?

Many local business sites are affiliated with a specific Chamber of Commerce (COC) or other formal business organization. These types of COC sites are a great starting point for a new listings management strategy, as they often have the most qualified audiences and greater “domain authority” which is beneficial for local SEO. A search for [Your City/State] + [“Business Directory”] will get the ball rolling. You may be pleasantly surprised at all the options available.

Outside of the COC variety, depending on your location there may end up being hundreds of options, and it can be a challenge to separate the wheat from the chaff - or find those specific to your industry. Here is a list of the big-ticket national versions to help make the best use of your precious time.

How Do I Manage My Own Local Business Listings?

The short version: managing your local listings is relatively easy, and only requires a bit of time and effort. First, you'll need to claim your listing on each worthwhile site. This usually involves creating an account and verifying your business through a phone call, email or (in the case of Google Business Profile) snail-mail postcard.

Once you've claimed your listing, take some time to fill out all of the relevant fields. Include as much information as possible, such as your hours of operation, contact information, and website address. You should also add photos and videos, if possible. Finally, be sure to monitor your listing regularly, and update any information that has changed. And definitely keep all of the resulting URLs, usernames and passwords in a handy spreadsheet for when you need to make updates. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your business's local listings are accurate and up-to-date.

If, after creating a certain number of business listings, the management process seems overwhelming - you’re not alone. There are a number of local listings management tools and services that we’ll cover in future articles.

Why is Local Business Listing Management Important?

Local businesses should both claim and manage their listings to (obviously) ensure that all of the information is accurate and up-to-date. While you’re going to have to create most of these listings yourself if not working with a listings service, sometimes they occur naturally if a directory pulls in information automatically, you purchased your business from a previous owner, a departed employee started building them without your knowledge, etc. But you won’t know what you don’t know until you crack the lid on a management process.

Beyond keeping your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) consistent across the web, which is critical for human beings and algorithmic local SEO efforts alike, there are other reasons why managing your business listings is important for both users and search engines.

  1. Showing Up in Local Search Results
    Managing your business listings is one of the core foundation tactics for good local SEO. That's because when you claim and verify your listing on a site like Google My Business (GMB), Bing Places for Business, or Yelp, you're telling search engines that your business is active and legitimate. This signals they can trust your details and rank you higher in local search results.

  2. Increasing Click-Through Rates
    Another reason managing your business listings is so important has to do with click-through rates (CTRs). When searchers see complete and accurate business listings in the SERPs - including things like hours of operation, reviews, photos, etc.- they're more likely to click through to your website or visit your store in person. Incomplete, automated, “scraped” or inaccurate listings often lead to lower CTRs and lost opportunities.
  3. Improving the User Experience
    It’s important to keep your business listings up-to-date and accurate because it improves the overall user experience. Searchers expect to find correct and current information when they perform local searches, so if they see outdated hours of operation or an incorrect phone number listed for your business, they may go elsewhere. Google’s algorithm doesn’t care for inconsistencies, either. Keeping your listings updated shows that you're invested in providing searchers and indexing bots with a positive experience - and that you truly care about the details.
  4. You May Not Have a Choice?
    Listings management is essential for success in today's digital world. Local search is more important than ever before, and businesses that don't invest in local listing management are at a serious disadvantage. If you want your business to succeed, it’s simply essential. So don’t think too hard about it when you could be using that brooding time building out a Yelp or COC profile.
There’s No Time Like the Present

All in all, managing your business listings is essential if you want competitive local SEO visibility and the best chance of converting potential customers in multiple ancillary ways. By claiming and verifying your listing on sites like GMB and Yelp - and keeping all of your information consistent and up-to-date - you're telling search engines and potential customers alike that you're a credible source of information, and worthy of both their trust and hard-earned income.

If you haven't claimed your listings yet, it begs the question: “What are you waiting for?” If the strategy seems overwhelming, start by populating one or two sites with your listing and work out from there, maybe working on an additional directory once a week as you have the time. Don’t obsess over speed or volume of listings, just focus on rolling up your sleeves and getting started, in any capacity, in your business's best interests.

 

Dave Pye

A digital marketing dinosaur, my SEO career began in 1999 at one of Boston's first digital marketing agencies. Prior to becoming Widewail's Director of Search I had a long focus on GMB, reviews and local organic visibility for automotive dealerships in competitive locales. Regardless of a specific industry, this decade of experience was the perfect precursor for a role supporting our innovative Engage and Invite services. Originally from Canada, I enjoy hockey, Frank Sinatra, writing on a variety of subjects, old movies - and am the proud parent of a geriatric Boston Terrier. Customers, peers, or anyone with online review-related questions are encouraged to contact me, anytime.

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