“Research has shown that 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information nearby.”*
When a user searches online for a service or product, they will expect to get a list of local companies that offer what they need. Often, these results are accompanied by a map showing the locations of the businesses or are actually on a map. Since most businesses operate within a geographic area, local search results typically become their most important traffic generation source.
Bing, Google, and Apple all have local search services that businesses should not ignore. All three of them, plus many smaller directories have a special registration and ownership verification process whereby business owners can create or claim their listing and then keep it updated with current, relevant information. Unclaimed businesses risk inaccurate or incomplete information or worse, no listing at all. It is essential for local businesses to take control of their local search listings.
Where Does Your Local Listing Show?
Search engines use their local data in several ways to showcase your business. For example, Google uses their “Google My Business” data to display approximately 7 relevant local businesses on the search results page. These results may include ratings, reviews, a link to the business’ website, links to their Google My Business page, address, phone number, and an accompanying map. The map is interactive and can be used as a way to get directions.
For Bing Places, the data is used in much the same way as it is on Google. In the case of Apple Maps Connect, the local listing data is shown on iPhone, iPad, and OSx devices when a user searches for local businesses in Apple Maps-related apps. This may represent a smaller audience than Google, but since Apple products tend to skew towards younger people with a higher income level, it is a worthwhile listing to garner.
How Do I Get Started?
As mentioned earlier, before you can take control of your listing, you must go through an account creation and verification process. Typically, there is more than one way to verify that you own the business. Common methods may be a PIN number that’s sent through the mail or a phone call. For do-it-yourselfers, the process can take about a week or two in most cases. As an agency, Millennium can take care of the verification process in a few hours.
Once you have control, you will be able to update data such as business hours and business verticals, add photos of the business, and see statistics about impressions and interactions with the listing. Keep in mind that search engines favor listings that are complete and up-to-date. They also prefer consistency—you’ll want to do all you can to make sure your data is the same in other directories.
Although creating a listing and then forgetting about it is a common practice, that’s not ideal. You should always keep on-going maintenance as a priority. Aside from the fact that business circumstances change, you’ll want to revisit your listings to adjust photos, business hours, and to highlight new services. Customers and other outsiders are able to submit updates to your listing—so you’ll want to login now and then to be sure there aren’t any changes you may not have thought of so you can approve and publish them. You’ll also want to monitor and respond to any reviews you may get—especially negative reviews.
Have questions about local listings? Millennium Marketing Solutions is experienced with local listings. As a certified Google Partner company and Let’s Get Our Cities on the Map Partner, we can help you. Not only can we save you the trouble of creating and maximizing your listings, but you can use our expertise to help with ongoing monitoring and updates. Contact Millennium’s Digital Marketing team for more information and ask about special pricing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Google/Ipsos MediaCT /Purchased, Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, May 2014