The internet has transformed the way people shop and the way that local businesses work with consumers. One big way that the internet has changed local business today is through the use of local business listings in online directories. People used to have to pull out their Yellow Pages and flip through to find local businesses near them. Now they just go online and peruse local business listings with ease. Before this time, business owners would name their company something like AA Plumbing in order to show up at the top of the Yellow Pages list, but that’s not an effective strategy with online business listings. You may be wondering which strategies are effective in the online world. Let’s talk about that!

What are Local Business Listings?

Local business listings, or citations, are online business profiles. They include anything from a business’s name, address and phone number to reviews and product lists. People search the Web looking for local businesses using directory sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Bing, Google and many more. These sites act like online phone books. Who remembers when you had to get out the actual Yellow Pages to find a local plumber? Now people search for the local plumber online.

Why are Local Business Listings Important?

The importance of local business 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 local business listings is simply that people search for them. 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 up 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

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. 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 address, 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 local listings, local SEO or small business marketing.