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October 29, 2019

Online Business Listings for Optimum Customer Engagement

By Klint Rudolph

There used to be only one directory that mattered: the phone book. Now, we have thousands of online directories visited by billions of internet users looking for information. Contact information for your business spreads across the internet from a variety of sources (e.g. telephone records, directory assistance databases, scanned print directories, trade publications, government sources, company registration sites, postal services, chamber of commerce-type organizations, web-crawling and data aggregators, etc.). Thus, as we discussed in our last article, Accurizing Your Online Business Listing, we talked about what online business listings are, why they are important and what should be included in those listings.

Creating and maintaining accurate business citations for your range or firearms retail location is a great way to grow your online presence. But how you manage your listings has a serious impact on your online visibility.

Historically, it has been the responsibility of the business owner to create a spreadsheet, log onto directory websites, create or claim your business listings and fill out all of the information for each listing individually. This is still done by a lot of businesses.

Websites like Google, Yahoo, MapQuest and many others have a built-in system for claiming, updating and publishing your business listings. However, these websites are only a small segment of the entire local-data ecosystem. Yelp, Yellow Pages and many others also deliver business listings and reviews for customers.

One of the biggest sources of business data is local data aggregators (LDAs). LDAs are companies that gather data about local businesses and then sell or distribute that data to a network of third-party online business directories, mapping services, GPS services and mobile apps. It’s these LDAs that are often the source of old and incorrect business information, and because they distribute their data far and wide, their impact is huge.

In the U.S., the four Local Data Aggregators are Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup and Neustar. By correcting your business listings with each LDA, you can get your correct business data distributed to their full network of online directories and services — and that’s much more efficient than searching for directory and review sites yourself, which would quickly become a full-time job.

Claiming and Updating Your Business Listings

If you truly want your business listing to appear accurately across all of the directories available to you, the most effective method is to use a listing distribution service. There are many companies that submit your business listing to a large number of reliable directories, all from one easy location. Yext, BrightLocal, Moz and The Xcite Group are some that provide this service. The reach of these listing services and whether they integrate with the four LDAs varies, and while some provide resources to help you to accomplish this work more efficiently, others take care of the entire process for you. We recommend investigating them individually to determine the best fit for your business and budget.

Improving Visibility

Local search engine visibility has become more important than ever, as search engines have become better at showing personalized results to users. Today, search engines can automatically determine your location when searching and base your results on that information. When you spend time building a thorough business listing, you can give your business a competitive edge. This is especially true in the firearms industry, where you are limited in the types of online advertising you can run to promote your range or retail shop.

How to Manage Your Listings

Whether or not your business moves locations or changes the services it offers, you should still continually update your listings. Here are three ways to accomplish that.

  1. Always Continue to Grow Your Local Citations
    A local citation is any listing of your business’s name, address, phone number and website address appearing on websites, apps, local business directories, industry directories and more. Think of all the places your business appears online: Your website, social media pages, Google, Yelp, etc. These are all local citations. As a best practice, you should aim to have a minimum of 50 local citations across the internet. As you vet out service providers to help manage your listing distribution, factor in how many citations they will be building for you and how their service continues to scale and continually add more citations for you.
  2. Add as Much Detail as Possible
    Google My Business
    continues to push its local listings as a way for consumers to contact businesses directly, rather than sending them to your website first. It has added substantial information consumers might find useful, and you can now add information like short posts or articles, questions and answers, call-to-action links (e.g., make a reservation), pictures, videos and even virtual tours of your location. This information should be updated frequently.
  3. Have a Review Strategy
    Just as your details should be updated frequently, so should your reviews. If you’re properly managing your reviews, you should be getting new customer reviews on a regular basis. This not only adds detail to your listing, it gives you a chance to respond to your customers’ praises or concerns. Those responses can easily become content about your products, services or classes for others to see. By responding to reviews, you’re keeping your listing fresh and creating additional marketing opportunities. It’s also a signal to the search engines that you are relevant.

Keep in mind that not all business directory websites are created equal. The best website directories focus on delivering persuasive, accurate listings to users searching for your business. The worst are filled with spam and put your website at risk of a search engine penalty that pushes down your listing’s discoverability. In 2011, Google’s Matt Cutts made a video differentiating between spammy online directories (part of what he calls “link schemes”) that search engines penalize and the higher-quality ones that search engines respect.

Positioning Your Range or Retail Location for Success

From the customer’s standpoint, nothing is more frustrating than finding out they’ve been given the wrong information about where a business is located — and you’re not very likely to visit that store as a result. A recent report from the Local Search Association found that 93 percent of consumer survey respondents agreed with the statement, “Finding incorrect information in online directories frustrates me,” and nearly 80 percent said that “Finding incorrect information in online directories would stop me from using a local business.”

You can significantly improve your online visibility by updating, managing and maintaining your local business listings. If you have not been managing your business listings, you may have a lot of work to do. Determining how your business is currently listed and improving that listing, will take time and effort — but getting new customers through the door is the reward.

About the Author
Klint Rudolph is a founding partner of The Xcite Group, a Google-certified, full-service digital marketing agency based in Denver. A digital marketing strategist who speaks nationally on radio shows and conferences, Rudolph has presented at Google Headquarters and educated companies around the world on agency best practices. He has an advertising background that started in the Yellow Pages industry, and today he has a prospering Google Partner Agency that ranks in the top 10 percent nationally and has won multiple awards, including Top Digital Marketing Agencies 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and Top Web Design Firms in 2016 and 2017. 

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