The internet is like a digital phonebook for the 21st Century. If you’re trying to find a business, product, or service in your area, all you have to do is hit up your favorite search engine and type your query.
For consumers, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, both where and when you’re looking for it.
For local businesses, it’s more complicated. It’s a matter of getting your business found by those searching consumers so you can make sales and grow your business. And that’s a matter of managing your online listings so you can be found, visited, and paid by the people who are looking for your business online.
Whether a consumer is hungry, needs a new pair of shoes, or even a haircut, accurate business listings will make sure they find what they need.
What’s an online business listing… and why do I need one?
Your business listing is your public profile that contains vital information about your business: name, address, number, website, hours of operation, and more. It’s a “virtual doorway” to local businesses and can (and should) appear in hundreds of online listings and directory sites across the web.
Who needs online listings? Everyone! Any local business needs listings in order to be found, and consumers need listings to find products and services they’re looking for. You may even have business listings already, whether you realize it or not!
When consumers hit the keyboard to find a business or product/service, they’re more likely to spend their dollars in the local area. Why take a road trip just to get a haircut or pay online shipping fees when a local establishment has what you need?
What are they looking for?
Consumers are looking for your business!
- 53% of mobile searchers are looking for directions
- 50% are looking for business addresses
If you want your business to rank well in local searches, you need to show up consistently in the major listing directories – name, address, and phone number, hours of operation, maybe a link to your website, and so on. This is essential for search engines to validate you as a credible local business.
The more accurate and consistent data there is about your business across the web, the more search engines will trust you as a legitimate business. And the more the search engines trust your business, the higher you’ll rank on local search engine results pages.
What goes into an online business listing?
The information contained in your business listings can vary across different search engines and directories, but some key pieces of information hold true across them all.
Your NAP information
The most important data that goes into a business listing is your NAP data— your name, address, and phone number. NAP data is critical for the online visibility of any business, and every listing source should contain this information. Correct NAP data ensures that not only will consumers find your business online, but they’ll also have accurate, up-to-date information on how to contact you.
NAP data is also important for search engines like Google to display your business in targeted local searches. If someone is searching “good seafood” in the Boston area, the local Boston seafood places with correct NAP data will appear. Of course, Google gives search ranking priority to businesses with correct NAP data—it’s how Google knows where you are and what you do, and if you’re even a legitimate business at all.
Seems like a no-brainer, but…
But for businesses across all listing sources…
- 86% have missing or incorrect company name information
- 72% have missing or incorrect address information
- 71% have missing or incorrect phone number information
Hard to believe, but despite the importance of accurate NAP data, many businesses are failing even at this most basic level of online presence.
Hours of Operation
Aside from NAP data, one of the most important details you can include are your hours of operation. When a consumer is searching for your business (or your goods/services), they have a high purchase intent, and they’re likely searching to meet an immediate need.
If your business hours aren’t listed, the consumer has to make the effort to check your website or call to find out whether you’re open. Or, worse yet, they’ll drive to visit your business and find it’s closed. Now they’re not only inconvenienced by not knowing your business hours, but they’re also upset because you wasted their time. Let the negative reviews commence!
And if one of your competitors has their business hours listed, guess who will get that consumer’s business?
People just want their needs fulfilled with a minimum of effort.
- 73% of purchases that result from mobile searches happen within the same day – most (63%) within a few hours
- 76% of consumers report that they expected hours of operation information when conducting a search
- Over 60% of consumers say that knowing the business hours helps them make their purchase decision
Consumers often want to make purchases the same day that they’re searching, so make sure they know your store is open!
Does your business direct users to a central online “hub” of information? Make sure that website link is in your business listings. Consumers will often travel from Google search into a business website to get a feel for the business and learn more about what they’re offering. But imagine this…
- 93% of businesses have either missing or incorrect website information
- Only 7% of businesses have their website information correct across all listing sources
- Nearly half of small businesses don’t even have a website!
If a user can find your website, they’ll get a better impression of your business and probably will have a more positive experience. Nearly half of small businesses don’t having a website! You can make your business stand out on local search engine results by including your business website in the listing information.
When it comes to managing your online business listings, the most important thing to remember is this:
The more information you put out there across all listing sources and directories, the easier it will be for consumers to find your business and buy your products and/or services.