Originally published at Hoovers.com
If your business is a local business, it’s highly likely that your customers are already using online business directories to find you.
According to hyperlocal business monitor Street Fight, over 92% of internet users utilize online directories to find local products and services in their area. Customers crave the hyperlocal details and location-specific knowledge that larger search engines can’t always provide.
The problem with online business directories is that over 50% of these local listings contain business information that is either outdated, missing, or just plain wrong. Many directories aggregate information without your knowledge or permission, capturing what they can find from other websites. Before long, this game of digital ‘telephone’ results in completely incorrect listing information for your business – sometimes all over the internet! And that can be a huge problem when customers are trying to reach you.
It’s clear that you should keep your online business directory listings up-to-date. If you don’t, you could be missing out on new business. Prospects who become frustrated by calling the wrong phone number will quickly move on to the next competitor on their list.
But with hundreds, possibly thousands of online business directories to monitor, how can a busy small business owner find the time to submit to all of them?
How can you find out where your business is listed?
More importantly, how can you find out where your business information is listed incorrectly?
Here are three fast, powerful ways to help achieve flawless local listing management and make sure your business is listed correctly on the right online business directories:
- Know where your customers are searching
Do you know how most of your customers find your business online? For some small businesses, the answer may be “Google.” For others, it may be a local or hyperlocal search engine or online business directory. Knowing how your customers find you is a crucial first step in the listing management process.
Begin by conducting some keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner, or by entering some keyword sets into Google’s search engine.
Let’s say your business is a local florist. When you search “your city + florist” a bunch of local listings should come up, but in most cases you will also see several local business directories on the search results page. Take a look at the top 3 to 5 directories and search for your business. You can also try searching for local competitors.
These top-ranking directories in your community are likely to be searched by your customers. While it’s possible to update your business information on more than just a handful of sites (I’ll get to that in step #3), begin with those directories that are most likely to be seen by your target market.
You can update this information manually by claiming your business listing, contacting the directory manager, or editing the listing yourself once you’ve established it as yours.
Keep in mind that this is only a first step to help ensure your business information is accurate for those searching in your local market. There is still more to do to help make sure your business can be easily found anywhere online.
- Conduct a citation audit
Now that you have the top business directories in your local market updated with your correct business information, it’s time to see how accurate your business listings are elsewhere online.
Listing consistency can be crucial to your business being discovered. That means your NAP+W (name, address, phone number, and website) are the same across business listings and directories. Inconsistent listings with different addresses, missing suite numbers, or incorrect phone numbers won’t just confuse your customers – they can confuse search engines as well. This can make it infinitely harder for customers to find you and give you their business.
To find out if your business listings are consistent, use a search tool like the one available on Moz.com. In just a few seconds you’ll be able to see if your business is listed in multiple categories or with different NAP+Ws.
From there, you can find out where the different information is coming from. For instance, there might be one listing on Google My Business and another one on Facebook Places. Using this tool, you can check for duplicate listings and determine the source of your problem. Once you know where the wrong information is coming from and how widespread the problem is, you can make an educated decision about how to fix it.
- Choose the right tools with the biggest reach and impact
By this point, your business information should be accurately listed on the very top-searched business directories in your local area, and you’ve discovered discrepancies by conducting a citation audit.
The third and final step is to choose a tool to help you create accurate NAP+W listings across major online business directories and beyond.
Choose a tool that will help you get listed and stay updated on sites that your customers use. There’s no point in focusing on hyperlocal search engines like Yelp if you’re targeting customers all over the U.S., just as there’s no point in focusing on big search engines if your customers only find you through local search engines.
There are a few tools on the market and Dun & Bradstreet has several products that can help distribute your information:
- Credibility Review can help you create a business listing that will be distributed to over 125 local search platforms, directories, navigation devices, and mobile applications. There are 3 tiers that include different features:
- Silver – featured in search results, 750 word description, and 15 keywords for enhanced search
- Gold – featured in Silver search results, VERIFIED™ Plus, Hoover’s Direct Submit Data Distribution, 1500 word description, 40 keyword for enhanced search, and hide competitors & stats on your profile
- Platinum – featured at the top of all search results, VERIFIED™ Premium, Hoover’s Direct Submit Plus Data Distribution, 3000 word description, 80 keywords for enhanced search, hide competitors & stats on your profile, and advertise on your competitors profiles
- VERIFIED® – verify your business information and social networking accounts through a third-party verification process; distribute your business data and reach up to 90% of U.S. consumers through Dun & Bradstreet’s network of local search platforms, mobile apps, navigation solutions, and more; and access to a real-time VERIFIED business report verified by Dun & Bradstreet
These services range in price. However, all of these tools offer pricing packages for a variety of small business budgets, and some provide for free options.
In order to get found online, it’s imperative to have a consistent online presence. For local small businesses, that starts with consistently publishing the correct name, address, phone number, and website wherever your customers search online. Once your NAP+W is up-to-date, you can grow your presence in search engines and online business directories in order to get found by more and more customers locally and globally.