Local listings have always been essential for local businesses. Back in the days of real-world phone books, before Google and mobile devices ruled the world, local businesses simply needed to sit back and let customers find them. Whether by walking in front of their brick-and-mortar location or looking them up on a phone book, customers easily found their way to local businesses, and conversions were booming. Unfortunately, things haven’t been that simple for nearly 20 years. Now, the pressure is on the local businesses to make themselves available to the public.
Today, when a customer looks for a restaurant or local service, the first thing they do is pull out their device (cell phone, desktop, tablet, etc.). A quick search engine query brings them the nearby results they’re looking for. If a local business isn’t visible online, it won’t show up in search results amongst its competitors.
That’s where online directory listings come in. Simply put, a local listing is an online mention of a business (citation) that details the essential information of a business. If a local business doesn’t have any local listings, there are big rewards it’s missing out on.
The Benefits of Local Listings
There are multiple benefits of local listings for local businesses. Not only do they increase the business’ online visibility – and the business’ chances of getting found online by potential customers – but they are also a way for the business to reach a broader audience. Below we give a detailed description of these and many more benefits of local listings.
A Significant Online Presence Boost
A local business should have one primary goal: to reach as many potential customers as possible. Search engine optimization strategies, like listings in online directories, play a significant role in achieving it. An increased online visibility leads to higher website traffic, as well as more in-person visits to a storefront.
Another factor to consider is that when a customer asks Google for a local business via voice search, Google won’t respond with businesses that lack online listings. Considering that 40 percent of all mobile voice searches have local intent, it’s vital that local business owners have their information available online, including the business’ location, phone number, store hours, and services.
One bonus that comes with a local listing is an automatic boost in search results. Instead of just pulling information about the business from multiple places (i.e. Facebook, website, blogs, etc.), search engines will rely on the information presented in the listing. This provides the business with consistency across the web, which can result in a higher position in SERPs while validating trust with search engines.
Improved Reputation With Consumers
When it comes to researching local businesses, 64 percent of consumers trust online search engines more than anything else, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Therefore, if a business doesn’t appear in search engine results, why should consumers trust it? Unless they already know and like the business, consumers are much more likely to try a well-reviewed local business on Google.
Nothing instills more trust in a consumer than a fleshed-out, accurate online listing. They want to know exactly where the business is located and why they should visit it. Billboards, magazine ads, and word-of-mouth methods are no longer enough to draw in customers. Local businesses absolutely need to be listed online if they’re to be trusted, with complete profiles that address the real business hours and services.
Useful Customer Feedback and Sharing
According to BrightLocal, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before they feel that they can trust a local business. If a local business isn’t located on any online directories or review sites, where will these reliable customer reviews come from?
By providing online users with the chance to leave honest feedback, local businesses can significantly increase their customer interaction. Additionally, the business can then respond to both positive and negative reviews, thereby improving its reputation on various review sites. In fact, BrightLocal also revealed that 89 percent of consumers read local businesses’ responses to reviews, so it’s not just the customer feedback that matters.
Furthermore, consumers are likely to discuss local businesses on their social networks, including platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Having an online listing makes it easier for businesses to get shared across social media, which increases their access to potential customers and their backlink profile.
Better Chances of Ranking Above Competitors
As a small local business, establishing a reputation that competes against the next-door company can be challenging. This is especially true if the other company is listed online with a plethora of positive reviews and accurate information.
Local listing services help local businesses compete with other small companies, as well as large organizations and chain stores. Mom-and-Pop stores hardly stand a chance against big corporations alone, but when it comes to local listings, the size of the business doesn’t matter – search engines determine placement in search results based on other factors such as trust.
Free Online Advertising to Local Shoppers
Many small businesses struggle to come up with a marketing budget. Fortunately, many online directories (including Google My Business) allow local businesses to submit their information for free. It’s an affordable way to boost brand awareness and increase online visibility without turning to paid advertising strategies. If a business doesn’t have a directory listing, it’s practically throwing away free marketing. Here’s how to create a Google My Business listing, in case you represent a local business that doesn’t have one yet.
How Advice Local Can Help Local Businesses
If you take anything away from this article, it should be that local listings are 100 percent essential to local businesses that want to attract customers and maintain a positive standing with the community. Not only does a business’ correct NAP information need to be available, but the business must also update its online listings as necessary. People want to see the information they can always trust, not outdated profiles.
Here at Advice Local, we know just how difficult it can be to keep up with local listings, especially when a business has more than one location. That’s why we have offered our award-winning local presence and listing management services to more than 350,000 businesses. Request a demo today to learn more!