Local listing management is a topic that isn’t covered nearly enough in the conversation surrounding local marketing. As we move into a time when local search is more important than ever, businesses that have a local presence need to capitalize on every available tool.
In discussions about SEO and other marketing efforts, it’s mentioned to get your business listed in any many local directories and off-page resources as possible. Of course, while this can be valuable for your marketing, it can be difficult when it comes to upkeep.
That’s where local listing management comes into play. There are plenty of tools (and people) out there that can help you manage all of your local listings to ensure that your brand is on point and your image is consistent across every corner of the Internet.
Of course, to choose the best local listing management solutions, you’ve got to understand how they work, what they offer, and what the process even entails.
In this guide, we’ll help you learn all about listing management and the value of local optimization, including how to use the tools and solutions available to maximize your efforts. We’ll discuss how local listings help SEO, the pros and cons of using listing management tools, and more.
All of this matters because local search is at a pivotal point and your business needs to get on board before it gets left behind.
What is Local Listing Management?
Local listing management is exactly what it sounds like: some solution that will assist you in managing all of your local listings scattered about on the Internet.
Stop and think for a second about how many places online your business is listed– you probably can’t even think of them all offhand. How many local listings do you suppose you have? 20? 50? 300?
No matter how many there are, they need to be perfect. Search engines are looking for consistency and clarity in order to give your brand the stamp of credibility. They’ve even developed a protocol known simply as NAP. It stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, and it’s one of the most critical elements of local SEO.
Rather than having to track down each listing that you have online manually, listing management solutions will allow you to handle them all in one place and guarantee that you don’t miss any of them along the way.
Like anything, if you have a management strategy in place, it will be that much easier for you to succeed with local listings and optimization and do so without the stress and hassle. In today’s Internet, that is going to be a critical element to your success.
What are Local Listings?
Local listings refer to any instance of your business that includes the name, address, and phone number, and that is listed on a local directory, business forum, or another website that promotes local business listings.
Your local listings need to be consistent, as mentioned earlier, and that’s where listing management solutions can help. The first thing that you need to do is choose a standardized format for your listing. If you are going to abbreviate, abbreviate everything. If you want to spell it out, spell it all out.
Choose one listing and stick with it. This seems small and insignificant, but these are the details that search engines are looking for when trying to rate your credibility as a professional brand.
After all, if you can’t even decide whether your business is located on Jackson Boulevard or Jackson Blvd., how can you help consumers with their needs?
Quick Tip: In choosing your local listing standard, consider searching for the USPS standardized version of your business address. That way, when people copy it for any reason, it will show up in GPS systems, on websites, and for shipping or mailing purposes.
The Components of Local Listings
Aside from your name, address, and phone number, there are some core elements that are considered essential in any local listing. These include:
- Your website URL
- Business hours
- Business description, including any specialty services
- Pictures and videos of your business and products/services
- Business category (marketing firm, coffee shop, retail store, etc.)
- Accepted payment methods
- Regularly updated COVID-related business information (hours, shipping changes, etc.)
That last one is new, but if you’ve done a local Google search lately, you know that even major retailers like Walmart and Target are regularly updating their business hours and operational practices based on the state of the coronavirus pandemic. For the time being, you’ll want to keep this information available and current so that customers don’t feel like they have to call to find out what’s going on.
The rest of it is all standard fare, and should serve to essentially paint a picture of your business before customers even set foot in the door. That picture is what will make them decide whether or not your business is the right fit, after all.
What is Local SEO?
Local listings are just one part of your local SEO efforts. Local optimization is similar to traditional search engine optimization, except that instead of focusing exclusively on industry keywords, you’re focusing on local keywords that will generate interest with the right regional or local audience.
Of course, it’s about more than just keywords. It’s also about building an online local presence that is as big and as visible as your general existence in the online space. Like your basic SEO strategy, it’s about using all of the available tools to increase visibility and make sure that your audience can find you when they need your products or services.
The idea is to promote items to people at the exact moment when they are searching for them, creating a much higher chance of a conversion. If a person is shopping and can’t find a webcam, for example, they’re going to get on their smartphone and search for nearby stores. If you sell webcams and your store doesn’t pop up in local listings, they’re going to drive right by.
That’s one customer lost, and with millions of local searches performed every day, that one customer will turn into dozens, or even hundreds, quickly.
Why You Need Local Listings and Optimization
46% of all searches have “local intent” and 80% of all local searches will convert.
If that’s not a way to start the list of reasons why you need local listings and listing management, then we probably can’t convince you. Still, we’ll try.
The fact of the matter is that people are going local. At the end of the day, if your business doesn’t follow suit (or isn’t already there), it’s not going to get found. Just like regular SEO, you have to optimize for your audience. If they demand local listings, give them local listings.
That’s what is meant by the phrase “local intent”. Even if people don’t specifically search for a city or state with a product or service, they may be intending to actually look for it locally and that’s why they come to the search engine. If you don’t capitalize on all of the aspects of local optimization (not just the keywords), you’re not going to show up in their search results.
Although we’re going to discuss the benefits of optimizing for local, the bottom line is simply that it’s what today’s consumers demand. As anyone in business knows, you have to deliver to the customer if you want to succeed.
The Benefits of Going Local
When you optimize your website and off-page local listings for SEO, you are creating a number of advantages for your business. In addition to even being found at all by your potential customers, you can enjoy perks like:
- Increased targeted traffic and relevant audiences who actually want or need your products or services at that exact moment.
- Increased local authority and brand reputation.
- A better chance at increasing your online presence by bolstering it with local credibility.
- A chance to stay competitive locally and online at the same time.
- Networking opportunities with nearby businesses and local companies that can help build professional relationships for additional credibility.
- A chance to build a community and a dedicated base of local customers.
- Your opportunity to show up in the “3-Pack” in Google search results, which is where most local searchers go first for local listings.
- Get a chance to keep up with mobile growth and the traffic that is generated from mobile search.
- Increased exposure and visibility are plentiful, thanks to the sheer number of directories and places you can list your business online.
- The opportunity to gain customers that are ready to make a purchasing decision, shortening the lead time and buying journey.
- Reduced advertising costs because local directory listings and optimization efforts are more affordable than other marketing channels.
When you optimize your website and off-page content for local, that includes getting as many local listings as you can and using those to your advantage. Of course, once you have the listings, they will need to be properly managed.
Google My Business for Local Optimization
One of the most valuable assets in local listing management is managing your Google My Business listing. This page is readily available to any business that exists online and is just waiting to be claimed.
Go claim your My Business page, if you haven’t already, and get ready to get to work. It’s a simple form-style page to fill out, thanks to Google’s love of simplicity, but you have to make sure that it’s filled out thoroughly and accurately.
For example, you’ll want to make sure that you include the standard local listing format of your business that is the same as every other online listing. You will also want to offer a full description of your business, relevant keywords, local keywords, and other information.
Be as detailed as you can. Feel free to look up other businesses and see how they handled their own pages. Take tips from them or even see what isn’t working and make sure that you do something different with your own.
What matters most is that you claim this listing, because it is the starting point and foundation for all of your other online local listings.
You can have 500 other links, listings, and directory posts online, but if you aren’t using your Google My Business page, search engine indexers aren’t going to give you the credibility and ranking that you deserve.
Local Listing Management Solutions
Choosing the right solution for your local listing management needs is going to be about figuring out what is ideal for your specific situation. Ultimately, it comes down to the great debate that most online marketing efforts face:
Automated vs. People-Powered Solutions
What do we mean? Well, within the realm of online marketing and even in listing management, there are typically two categories of solutions: software and professional services. You might use one. You might use both. But first, you’ve got to understand what each offers to see what best suits what you need.
There is a place for each type of solution. This might be where it is helpful to enlist professionals so that they can determine which tools will be best, and then monitor and manage everything for you. Typically, a combination approach is the best way to go.
Local Listing Management Software
Local listing management software is one of the most commonly searched tools right now. As the increasing demand for local optimization ramps up, so does the demand for more tools to manage these efforts.
Software programs and online tools are plentiful when it comes to managing your online listings. In fact, a simple search for “local listing management” will result in multiple pages offering “x” amount of listing management tools that you should be using.
Local listing management tools include a variety of features. Some tools will include every feature while others will offer a single feature or service as part of local listing management. For example, there are tools dedicated specifically to assisting with tracking customer reviews as they relate to local listings and optimization.
Any software or tool that you consider using should provide:
- An automated search feature that allows you to find all directory listings of your business so that you can ensure they are consistent and accurate.
- One-click updating for all directory listings so that you don’t have to do each update manually.
- Review management tools that can notify you of new customer reviews and help you reply to them right in the platform.
- Analytics and monitoring tools so that you can monitor your local directory listing management and other local efforts.
It’s often best to choose an all-in-one solution so that you can get everything in a single platform or interface and handle your local listing management with ease.
Pros and Cons of Local Listing Management Software
Of course, there are plenty of articles that claim that you can’t live without local listing management tools. Few of them discuss why, beyond the obvious fact that local is the way of the future and that automated tools can help you in more ways than you think.
When choosing between software or professional services, you have to know what the benefits are of each. In order to help you figure out the right solution, here are some of the biggest pros and cons of local listing management tools and software to keep in mind.
- Local listing management tools take all the work off your plate. You will get accurate business listings and manage your local business effectively.
- These tools may be able to identify opportunities and listings in directories or on websites you haven’t found.
- The analytics tools will make it easier to manage local listings, as well as other local optimization efforts.
- Automated tools can do more work in less time and give you better results.
- These tools don’t have that human element. They can’t tell you whether listing on a site is going to be good or bad or offer unique insights like a person could.
- Listing management software is sometimes cost-inhibitive for small companies, leaving them to manage their own local listings.
- The variety of tools all work differently and have different costs to consider, so it’s hard to compare apples to apples when choosing this route.
Ultimately, as we discussed earlier, the ideal solution would be to invest in a local listing management service that can choose and use the appropriate tools for monitoring and managing your local efforts.
Professional Local Listing Management Services
Like a lot of marketing, local listing management and local SEO are often best left to the professionals. Some individuals and agencies specializeThere are individuals and agencies that specialize in things like local listing management to save you the stress. With a business to run, you might not have time to track all 547 online listings for your company, and that’s exactly what the pros are for.
The entire job of professional services that provide local listing management is to manage your local listings for you. Not only does that take the work off of your plate, but it gives you the peace of mind that your listings are in the best hands.
Those who are experienced in local search and optimization, including local listings, will know how to get the best results. They will even know which listing management tools to use to get the job done. They can recommend the best platform integration or even handle everything for you so that it’s a hands-off experience from start to finish.
When you enlist the assistance of professional services to assist with local listing management, you’re basically hiring someone to track your business listings, report on their status, ensure they are accurate and indexable, and generate new opportunities for local listings in the future.
If that sounds like a lot, it is. That’s the reason why it’s best to work with professionals. While you have a business to turn, their entire job is taking care of your listings and managing your local presence online.
Go Local and Get Listed with Professional Marketing Management Partnerships
When it comes to local listing management, that’s just one aspect of a well-rounded local optimization campaign. You need to make sure that you are embracing all of the aspects of local search, as we mentioned earlier.
Again, the easiest way to do that is to find a marketing partner that understands local search and how to help you optimize, including capitalizing on business listings and local directory listings that can increase your local visibility.
At Ranq, we’ve been working with local optimization and marketing for a number of years, and include it as part of any standard SEO package for a business that has a local presence. These listings are such an easy way to build visibility and increase your brand image online, while also bringing in that local traffic that you’ve been missing.
Contact us today to discuss what we can do to assist with your local listing management, either as a standalone service or as part of your custom SEO marketing solution managed by our team of experts.