Business Listings Management:
The Complete Guide to Local SEO
Learn how you can maintain accurate business listings across the internet so you can be found.
Local listings are the key to getting new business. Managing your local business listings ensures that your data is accurate across the web. When you have current and consistent listings, you will get more customers and higher search rankings for your business.
Business listings 101
Learn about local listings and how your business can take advantage of them.
What is an online local business listing?
A local business listing is an online profile of your business with its name, address, phone number, and more. Local listings help interested customers find your business easily through an online search. Think of local business listings as online directories to help your business be found.
The core components of local listings
Regardless of the website, local listings are made up of the same core data: NAP. This stands for the name, address, and phone number of your business. In addition to NAP, your business listings can also include:
• Website URL
• Hours of operation
• Your business category (The category your business falls into should complete the statement, “This business is a…”. For example, if you were a local coffee shop, your category would be: coffee shop. If you own a garage where you repair cars, your category would be: auto repair shop.)
• Pictures or videos of your business
• A short description of your business
• Accepted methods of payment
These core components will help customers easily connect with your business once they find you through an online search.
Q: Are local citations and business citations the same thing as business listings?
Yes, local citations, business citations, and business listings are all different ways of referring to the same thing. All three phrases are used to describe a business’s online NAP data.
Why are local business listings important?
Local business listings are essential in helping your business be found online. When a customer is looking for a new business, Google is often their first stop. Having multiple listings that are consistent across different sites helps Google know that your business information is trustworthy. If your business cannot be discovered through a simple Google search, chances are you are not being discovered at all. Keeping your local listings updated at all times is the answer to this problem.
What local businesses are up against
Ranking on Google is becoming increasingly difficult. In the past fifteen years, we’ve seen a huge shift from customers searching on desktop, to searching on mobile. This smaller screen size displays fewer results per page than a traditional search on a computer would. On desktop, customers usually see ten results on the first page, but on mobile, customers usually don’t get past the first three. With the increasing prominence of mobile searches, it is more important than ever to earn that top spot.
There is also another obstacle for businesses to overcome. It’s estimated that in the near future, 50% of Google searches will be done through voice search. While mobile search gives users three results, voice search only gives one.
For businesses to have an edge in this new search environment, they need to make sure that they’re doing everything they can to be found by customers. The more consistent your listings, the better chance you have of customers discovering you on mobile, desktop, and voice search (think smart speakers, phones, and cars equipped with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Google’s AI assistant).
Benefits of local business listings
Local business listings are a reliable source of information for your customers. They serve as an online business directory, helping consumers find the business that will fit their needs. But local business listings have other benefits as well.
• Gives your customers better customer experience
When your business is listed across the web, it is easier for your customers to find your information. This guarantees great customer experience from the get-go.
• Improves your reputation
Most business listing sites offer reviews as well. Collecting online reviews builds trust with your customers and offers invaluable insights into the customer experience.
• Boosts SEO
When you have consistent NAP data across the web, this boosts your business’s search engine ranking. The more accurate and detailed your listings are, the higher you will rank in relevant searches. If you’re interested in learning more, we will go into further detail in the section “The local search ecosystem”.
Are business listings free?
It depends. While some listing sites have paid options, many popular listing sites are free. Google, Facebook, and Bing are all free to list your business on. Depending on your industry, it may be wise to also pay for listings on industry specific websites. Some examples include:
This real estate website connects real estate agents and brokers to home buyers and sellers through their online business directory list. Trulia is one of the largest real estate websites and has been featured by many reputable sources. If you are a real estate professional, you can pay for Trulia Pro and get your properties listed. Because this website features many interested buyers and sellers, it can be worth the investment.
If you are an automotive dealership, consider putting your business listing on Autotrader. This listing will connect you to many motivated buyers, making it a worthwhile investment. The cost varies to become an Autotrader dealership, but you can complete this form to see if it’s a good fit for your business.
• Better Business Bureau
Founded in 1912, the BBB is a credible, esteemed source. Your business can become accredited by the BBB if you meet their standards and pay a small fee to support BBB’s accreditation review. BBB will monitor your business to make sure it continues to live up to BBB’s code of ethics. Having BBB accreditation can assure potential customers that your business is trustworthy. Take a look to see if getting a BBB accreditation is right for you.
Managing your business listings
Let’s talk about how your business can get started with online
Claiming your local business listings
You might be wondering how websites got your business’s information if you didn’t post it yourself. Google creates profiles for existing businesses. If you see that Google has made a profile for your business, all you’ll have to do is claim it!
If you see a listing on another site, chances are it was collected by a data aggregator or added by a user. Right now, there are four data aggregators that compile and distribute this information to listing sites: Infogroup, Acxiom, Neustar/Localeze, and Factual. These data aggregators get information by looking at offline and online resources.
Because of this, there is a possibility that your business is already featured on various listing sites. Do an online scan of your business, see what is and isn’t currently listed, and where. Be sure to claim the new business listings you discover. Once you have ownership of your business listings you can control your NAP data and make sure that your operating information is up to date across all of your listings.
Q: What if I do not have any business listings?
If you don’t have business listings yet, don’t fret. Start by making a free Google business listing on Google My Business. Having a profile on Google My Business gives you control of how your business appears in Google search and Google Maps. Your Google My Business listing also boosts your online search ranking to help you be found more easily by customers.
The local search ecosystem
Why is it important for you to claim your business listings? If you have inaccurate information on the web, it can very easily spread like a virus across multiple sites through data aggregators. Incorrect listings confuse customers, hurt your SEO, and can ultimately cost you business.
When it comes to NAP, it’s crucial that your data be
If your NAP is out of date, then customers are getting the wrong information when they search for your business online. This could lead to a customer going to the wrong location or calling the wrong business number.
If your NAP is inconsistent, this will confuse your customers, as they will be unsure of which information they should trust. The chances that the customer would do research to identify the correct information is slim when the option of going to a competitor is so much easier.
In both circumstances, you will be starting your interaction with your customer on the wrong foot. To build a better customer experience, it is crucial that your NAP is current, complete and consistent.
Furthermore, incorrect listings negatively impact your SEO because it confuses Google about which source to trust. When there is conflicting data about your NAP, Google has no way of deciphering which data is correct. Your NAP must be consistent across all of your business listings for Google to know what information to promote.
Don’t let inconsistent or out of date data negatively impact your business. Learn how to manage your local listings to take control of your online presence.
How do I manage my business listings?
Managing your business listings is as easy as following these three steps:
Audit your business information online. This helps you know where and how your NAP data is listed so that you can evaluate its accuracy.
Fix any incorrect NAP data.
Track your listings periodically to make sure that they are current, complete, and consistent.
Audit your business information online
The first step to managing your local business listings is to do a listings audit. An audit helps you see how consistent your business listings are across the web. It also helps you see if there are duplicate Google My Business listings, or duplicate listings on other sites.
But, how can you possibly find all of your local business listings? Here are a few free business listing management tools you can use to audit your listings.
• Citation builder pro has a free business listing audit (remember, a business citation and a local business listing are the same thing).
• Brightlocal offers a free trial for their business listing scanning.
• But Ranked Brain’s free Scan Your Business tool takes it one step further. Ranked Brain’s Scan Your Business tool finds your listings and shows you exactly what they look like from the customer’s perspective. This helps you identify issues and see what changes you should make to help customers get the information they need.
Correct any inaccurate NAP data
After you conduct your audit, make sure to update any inconsistencies with your listings. Google makes it fairly easy to update your Google business listing. How easy this job is for the rest of your listings depends on the number of listings you have.
If you are a new business that doesn’t have a strong online presence, this is a job that should be quick and painless. However, there are hundreds of websites that your NAP data could be on, so if your data is in many places, correcting it has the potential to take up a lot of your time.
Track your listings
Just because you’ve corrected your listings once does not mean you are finished. New business listings are added every day, and if your business ever changes addresses, phone numbers, its website or operating hours, it’s imperative that this information be updated quickly across all listings. Consistently track your listings so that you know your NAP data is correct across the web.
Can I manage my own local business listings?
While you technically can manage your own business listings, there are a few things to consider before you do so. The pros? Managing your own business listings is free, and it gives you complete control over them. The cons? Managing your own listings takes time. Lots and lots of time. Perhaps you don’t have an overwhelming amount of listings now, but as your business grows, so will your listings. If you want to keep up with this growth, it’s important to have a long term solution for your online business listing management. This is why it’s important to have a business listing management service .
The key elements your business listing management software needs
The right business listing management software should have the following qualities:
• An automatic listings finder. You should not have to hunt for your listings, the right software will collect them all for you.
• The ability to identify NAP inconsistencies.
• Update all listings with the click of a button.
• Scan your listings and identify inconsistencies on an ongoing basis.
While these are the basic qualities your software should have, many business listing management platforms offer more features to provide you with local SEO solutions including:
• Review management. Be notified with each new review, respond within the dashboard, and even automate the review request process.
• Analytics. These insights help you understand your own customer feedback and keep an eye on the competition so that your business can get ahead.
SEO and online reputation management are two tools that work together to help your business be found and be chosen by customers.
Top business listings sites you cannot ignore
Though there are many business listing sites, some websites’ listings are more important than others. Here is where you should focus when you start managing your business listings.
1. Google My Business.
Because you want your business to be discoverable across Google platforms, it’s important to create a Google My Business profile. This profile also gives you a Google Maps business listing, which is beneficial when people are searching for places to go within Google Maps. A Google My Business profile also boosts your search engine ranking to help you rank higher in local searches. This free resource is one of your business’s most valuable assets.
You can create a free business page on Facebook and have access to over 2.6 billion active users. Facebook has access to their users’ location and demographics, so your business will pop up for relevant searches. In your Facebook business page you can also include a description of your business, pictures, and a link to your website.
3. Apple Maps.
There are millions of iOS users who all have Apple Maps as their default navigation system. When a potential customer searches relevant keywords in Apple Maps, you want to be sure that your business is found. List your business with Apple Maps to make use of this opportunity.
Manage your local business listings with RankedBrain
With RankedBrain, you scan your business listings with the click of a button. If your NAP data changes at any point (for example your office moved to a new location or your business description has changed), all you need to do is update it in your Birdeye dashboard, and we will make sure those changes are reflected across the web. Get in control of your online reputation by fixing and managing your business listings today.