When you hear the term “online presence”, you might immediately think of social media channels, your business website, and your search engine rankings. These are all pillars of online presence, but there’s one more that is equally as important, and that is your listings in online review sites and business directories. There are many benefits to business directories, but experiencing them requires you to put careful thought and consistent maintenance into your business listings. Read on to learn about the importance of optimizing your business listings and exactly what that looks like for your business.
It’s not enough anymore just to register your business on a few sites. You must:
• Create complete listings so your information can stay intact for automatic listing generators
• Add photos and reviews to help you stand out from competitors in those directories
• Monitor your listings that are being generated automatically
• Update your listings when they are incorrect or when you make changes in your business
Why is this so important? Here are a few key reasons.
In order to optimize your listings, you need to start with complete ones. Not having enough information about your business makes it difficult for a potential customer to feel confident and able to engage with your business—not to mention frustrated or annoyed with your negligence.
Perhaps worse than having incomplete information is having inaccurate information. If a customer wants to pick up an order, make a return, or stop in for an appointment, the last thing they need is to show up only to find that you’re closed. Even worse, inaccurate information tends to cause consumers to think that you’re either not competent, not reliable, or unaware of your customers’ needs.
Having listings in review sites and directories doesn’t just help users on those sites to find your business. It also amplifies your online presence across channels. For example, many directories have strong SEO, so even if your business doesn’t show up on the first page of Google for a particular search, your listing in a directory just might.
Here are specific actions you can take and habits to get into to help optimize your presence in online business directories.
Inaccurate business information will cause Google and consumers to stop trusting you. Make sure to update any and every bit of information that changes, right down to a change in floor or suite within the same building.
The importance of consistency in your online business listing cannot be stressed enough. This ensures that the listings you create yourself are accurate and reliable, and also that your information stays as intact as possible when platforms generate automatic listings. Be sure to make every bit of information in your online business listing identical. Pay attention to details such as:
• Apostrophes (e.g. “Kims” vs “Kim’s”)
• Abbreviations (e.g. “street” vs “st” vs “st.”)
• Business name spellings (Company vs Co.)
While it’s important to upload a logo and photos to your business listings, make sure these images never replace text. In fact, if you can add alt text (text alternative), do it. Images help to create visual appeal but text is what brings viewers to your listing in the first place.
Having multiple locations can be confusing for search engines and people.It might make sense to create separate locations for each listing, so that current and potential customers know exactly which number to call or where to go, without having to dig through information. It’s important that your listings eliminate as many barriers to learning about your business as possible.
This is especially important if your product or service is not a part of your business name. Customers don’t typically search for business names, but rather for the product or service they’re looking for, so be sure to select categories and subcategories whenever possible to help get your business listing to show up for people who are browsing.
Get as many reviews as possible on the directories that support them such as Google Maps and Yelp. Not only will this make your listing more attractive and your business more trustworthy, but it may also affect how you rank in directory search results.
Local telephone numbers provided added security to potential customers that you are a local business. Plus, search engines like Google do not like toll-free numbers. Remember, a good business listing and online presence is all about trust.
For platforms that ask you to write a brief description of your business, keep them concise. Also, use language that potential customers would use to search for information related to your business.
To find out which business directories you are showing up in, perform a Google search for your business. Make a list of your listings and then systematically work on making them as consistent and accurate as possible.The steps required to claim, change, or update a listing will vary across platforms, so it’s best to seek out instructions from each directory separately.
This will take some time, and can sometimes be very frustrating, but stick with it. It is well worth it for the growth of your business and the satisfaction of your customers.
Online directories connect your business to your target audience. The more complete a picture you can paint of your business online, the better search engines and customers can find it. Give online directories the power to connect your business to more customers by creating, claiming, and updating your online listings.