As our regular readers already know, we normally dedicate our blog and newsletter to best practices in online review management, covering topics like why reviews are important, whether to pay for positive reviews, and how to respond to 1-star ratings. This week, we’re shifting gears from business review management to business listing management, providing you with a complete overview of everything you need to know about business listings or local citations. We’ll answer FAQs like:
- What are online business listings?
- What sorts of details should business listings contain?
- Where online should my business be listed?
- Do I have to pay to list my business online?
- Are there any niche or industry-specific directories that I should be aware of?
If you’ve ever wondered how business listings impacted your agency’s clients — or, whether there was a better and more efficient way to keep them organized and up-to-date — continue reading as we guide you through all the basics.
What Are Business Listings?
Business listings are also referred to as “business citations” or “local citations.” To keep things simple, we’ll refer to them as business listings throughout this guide.
A business listing is a compilation of key information about your company, such as its name and address, that makes it easier for consumers to find your brand when performing searches on Google. The data contained in your listing is called “NAP data,” short for Name, Address, and Phone — but these aren’t necessarily the only three pieces of information that your listing should contain, as we’ll discuss later in this guide.
There are numerous websites and directories where you can (and should) list your clients’ businesses, including plenty of options that are free to use. Some directories are general in nature, like Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), while others, such as HomeAdvisor and Zocdoc, are geared toward specific types of services or industries.
For more examples of general and niche business directories, scroll down to the section on where to list your client’s small business. Otherwise, let’s take a closer look at a few of the ways your clients can benefit by listing their businesses in online directories like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
Why Do Business Listings Matter for Your Clients?
Business listings might seem trivial, but don’t underestimate their power to impact your brand. On the contrary, ensuring that your business listings are accurate, up-to-date, and consistent is one of the most productive steps you can take toward growing your business and acquiring more customers.
As tech company Yext explains, “NAP data is hugely instrumental in driving foot traffic to local businesses, and therefore the accuracy of this information is the biggest factor in boosting the number of consumers that arrive at a business’ location.” When your business listings are incomplete, inconsistent, or otherwise inaccurate, it creates confusion and mistrust for consumers, who want to quickly and easily find the information they need — not spend additional time trying to determine which of your phone numbers is correct.
In addition to negatively impacting consumer perceptions of your business, inaccurate listings can also negatively impact your local rankings, making it harder for consumers to discover your brand in the first place. Therefore, maintaining accurate business listings is vital not only from a customer experience standpoint, but also in terms of local SEO, or search engine optimization. As Yext elaborates, “Accurate NAP data not only increases how many customers arrive at a physical business location, but also increases the visibility of its listing to consumers,” adding that “search engines are more likely to favor listings that offer the same, rich information regardless of the source of that information.”
Are Business Listings Free to Create?
In short, it depends on the directory. Some are free to use, some charge a fee for the service, and others offer a free or paid version depending on what sorts of features you want to access.
That brings up two important questions for small businesses and the agencies that represent them: which online directories should you list your business in, and what sorts of details should you include in each listing?
Where Should You List Your Client’s Small Business?
Three major directories are absolute musts for small business listings:
- Google Business Profiles (GBP)
Of course, these are by no means the only directories your business should be featured in — simply the most popular. On the contrary, there are dozens of directories you may want to be included in, taking care not to overlook some of the less popular, niche directories for specific types of businesses, such as HVAC companies, plumbers, pet-related services, or real estate companies. Other than Facebook, Yelp, and Google, here are 20 additional examples of directories you may want to consider.
- Angi Business Listing (formerly Angie’s List)
- Apple Maps
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Yahoo Small Business
To explore even more industry-specific directories, browse this huge compilation from marketing company BrightLocal, which lists more than 800 sites.
What Details Should a Business Listing Include?
As we mentioned earlier, the acronym “NAP” refers to Name, Address, and Phone. However, it’s a good idea to include additional details where possible in order to create a more helpful and comprehensive picture for consumers who are looking for information about your clients’ businesses — especially since that extra attention to detail can help provide that tiny yet vital edge over competing local brands.
For example, you may be able to stand out to consumers simply by providing more info than your competitors, such as links to social profiles, links where consumers can request or set up appointments, photographs of your business location, and/or detailed information about your COVID-19 screening policies. While some directories may limit the information that you are able to share or upload, it’s always a smart idea to fill out as many fields and provide as much detail as possible.
Business Listing Management and Review Response Services Designed for Digital Agencies and Brands
Managing a small handful of listings might not seem like a challenge — but when you multiply that number by dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of different clients and branch locations, it’s easy to start losing huge chunks of time that could be better prioritized toward your brand or agency’s other projects. Our business listing management service takes all the tedium and inefficiency out of the process, making it easier for your clients to reach consumers and rank locally while giving your brand or agency’s team more bandwidth to focus on other goals. Here are just a few of the ways that working with a business listing management service like Shout About Us can help your agency and brand drive growth and achieve better results in any vertical or industry:
- Our flexible, powerful platform allows you to update over 50 unique fields, helping you rank higher for local search — and score more business for your clients. Update everything from a single convenient dashboard, including store hours, photos, videos, COVID-19 updates, keywords, services offered, appointment links, social profiles, and more!
- We go beyond business listing management to take your clients to the next level. With a full library of custom reports, you’ll be able to provide your clients with key insights across all of their locations’ online performance. Plus, our review response service ensures that all of your clients’ ratings and comments receive a personalized review reply from your dedicated response scribe within 24 hours.
- Getting set up on the Shout About Us platform is quick and easy. Once you let us know that you’d like to move forward, our team will immediately begin setting up your white label account and transferring over your data from your existing platform.
- We respond to all customer requests within hours and are always available to jump on a phone call or Zoom meeting to find a resolution to your issue.
Best of all, there is no additional fee to use the white label option of the Shout About Us reputation management platform. Everything is included in our standard pricing package — no surprise costs or hidden charges.
Convert prospective buyers into lifelong customers by improving your clients’ local search visibility and creating a seamless buying experience with better and more accurate business listings. To learn more about our listing management service, review reply service, or reputation management platform, book a demo today.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.