The Internet has transformed people’s shopping habits and the ways local businesses work with consumers. One big change has been the rise of local business listings in online directories.

Do you remember when we had to pull out the Yellow Pages book to find a business nearby that provided a service or product we needed? Now we can just see online local listings and find the business we need—and more and more people are doing that.

This search feature is especially helpful in large cities like Dallas-Fort Worth. Think about the number of businesses we would have to search for in a Yellow Pages book to find what we’re looking for. Now we can look it up using a smartphone and find local DFW businesses near us—reviews and everything!

To get seen in a digital marketing, we have to go digital. In this post, we’re going to talk about how a local business listing works and where you should start to ensure your business is seen by potential customers.

What is a Local Business Listing?

A local business listing, or citation, is an online business profile. They include anything from a business’s name, address and phone number to reviews and product lists.

These listings can commonly be found in what is called the “local pack”—a list that appears beneath a map at the very top of your search results page.

Local Business Listing for Pizza

People search the Web looking for businesses near them on Google and Bing, or using directory sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages business listings and many other top local business directories. These local listing sites act like online phone books.

Why are Your Local Listings Important?

The importance of local listings can’t be overstated. If you own a local business, it is crucial that you are accurately represented online. If people search for local businesses in the online Yellow Pages, don’t you want to be there?

We would say, “Absolutely!” One reason to spend time setting up your local business listing is simply that people search for them.

And think about how many people you know, yourself included, who search for businesses near them on a mobile device? The ease of searching for local businesses online is becoming greater each and everyday, so the importance of getting listed online is growing, as well.

Another huge reason to set up local business listings is that Google reads them. Yes, this search giant crawls and reads all kinds of information on the Web to help serve helpful results to its users. When crawling the Web, Google looks for consistency to help it establish business entities. If your business is listed under different names or addresses across the Web, Google will struggle to understand who and where your business is. You could be missing out on tons of business.

How to Get the Most Out of Local Business Listings

While online listing sites may be similar to phone books, in a way, the strategies and tactics used on these sites aren’t the same as print directories. When a Yellow Pages book could be found in every home, business owners would name their company something like AA Plumbing to show up at the top of the Yellow Pages list, but that’s not an effective strategy with online business listings.

Assuring that your basic NAP (name, address, and phone number) are consistent is a great place to start, but it is by no means the place to stop. Local business listing directories allow you to add so much more information, such as: business hours, payment methods, reviews and more. Studies prove that the more information you have on your local business listings, the more often they will show up for users in search. 4x more often, in fact! Taking the time to fill out as much information on your listings as possible is well worth the effort.

How Can I Get Started?

At this point, the value of business listings should be clear. However, you may be thinking, “That’s great and all, but I don’t have time to set up local business listings on all of these sites.”

We understand that you are busy as a local business owner. As a local small business owner, you want to spend your days serving customers that come in your door and you may not have time to sit at your computer and update listing after listing after listing.

We partner with local business owners every day to set up and monitor their local business listings. Instead of spending hours manually entering your business name, address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation and more across dozens of listing sites, you can have your digital marketing company do it for you, or you can have your in-house marketing department use a tool like Moz, Yext, BrightLocal or WhiteSpark. These tools cost money, but they also save time.

If you want to learn more about building your local business online, check out our guide. Let us know if you have any comments or questions about online local business listings, local SEO or small business marketing.