Making Local Business Listings Count

Jodie King

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A great blog post by Moz on local business listings has inspired a delve into the world of local SEO to give you greater guidance on selecting those all important directories to boost the profile of your business.
Are you a local business owner? You have most likely heard that you should submit your business to local business directories like Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages and other similar networks in order to help boost your local search visibility on Google. There are local business directories that offer free listings, paid listings and package listings on multiple networks.
Finding the right directories
Finding the right directories can be a big time investment. Start by simply  looking your business up on Google by name. This will show you were you have claimed listings already and if there are any duplicates with the wrong company name. Taking ownership of your address is key to citations and how Google will read your local listings information. Updating your directories will help customers get to know your business, hours and what you have to offer. When claiming your business in various directories you will find that they have the links to free and paid listings in different locations just to make the task that little more frustrating.  Check the headers and footers as they prefer to hide the free listing link. 
Once you have claimed the listings you already have and added images, a web address and any reviews to plump them out, you will want to start finding new ones. Creating listings on local business directories where your competitors have listings will help you get in front of your target audience and you do not want to miss an opportunity that your competitors have grasped. 
You need to know what keywords and phrases your business target in searches, do a quick search for them to see which local directories rank in the top ten search results. Now you have your target listings. Most keyword searches will relate to local businesses that will lead you to your website, your competitors website, specific business listings in local business directories and categories on local business directories. Of course you also have to option of paid listing and advertising to frog leap your competitors. A well populated free listing can do that but paid options usually have extra features and ranking potential. 
Once you have done all of the above on a desktop you will want to do the same searches on mobile. Studies show that 50% of mobile searchers end up visiting a local store to make a purchase. 
Claiming and creating local business directory listings
There are numerous ways of getting your listing verified. The simple one is an email verification, or a text that are easily responded to and hey presto the listing is live. However, some are more complex and may involve speaking to a live representative. Once you have looked at how to create a local business directory listing you need to look at the actual cost. Some of the top local business directories are free but there others that do not give a free listing option and so require payment. You need to judge which ones are worth paying for as some will allow a skeleton listing but you will have to pay for your website address to be added or for graphics.  Some directories will sell listings for their site alone whereas others are grouped under plans where you can choose to pay for one directory or a group of directories annually.
So how do you decide what listings are worth paying for?
The priority ones are those that appear on the first page of local searches made using keywords and phrases crucial to your business. Clearly you also look at what is important to your competitors and see where they appear – what matters to them now matters to you:

  1. Check the search traffic going to the directory in question. SEMrush offer a free tool that will give you an estimate of the traffic going to it and based on that result you can decide whether you need it.
  2. Does the directory have a good standing/reputation? Is it known to you? The quickest way to eliminate scam directories is simply to put their name into google with the word scam. Any bad reviews will be instantly apparent. 
  3. look at other companies within your category/industry to see how they are doing on the directory. Are they receiving reviews/engagement? If not then you might now need this one. 
  4. Check exactly where your listing will be visible. If it is placed on page 10 or in an obscure location then again there will be other directories more worthy of your time and effort. You need your listing at the top of the first page and in the right category otherwise it will never be found. 

Local business directories are labour intensive – there is no way around that but to make sure you are investing your time in the right directories follow these crucial steps. Local SEO is a big win in today’s market but only if it is done right! 

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