Monitoring and updating local business listings (also referred to as local citations) has become a critical component of online reputation management and local search optimization strategies for businesses today. According to NeustarLocaleze, a leader in local search and local listings, “Studies show that as many as half of all businesses have some type of missing or inaccurate business information about them on Internet search sites.”
Many businesses don’t even realize that there are listings out there with incorrect NAP (name, address, phone number) information, and that this misinformation is keeping potential customers from visiting their store or website. Unsure how your company is being displayed? Request a free listings scan on us!
Unfortunately, the process of keeping local business citations up-to-date can be extremely time consuming, and therefore isn’t always made a priority. However, if you’re not paying attention to your local directory listings, you could be missing out on a lot of business simply because you’re making your business difficult to find and trust.
Weighing Your Options
Fortunately, when it comes to how your business manages your local business listings on review sites, social media sites, city directories, industry directories, etc., you have a few options to choose from:
1. Manual Updates
If your business is short on cash and/or consistently wrestling with a tight budget, performing manual updates may be your only option. In that case, you’ve got to organize your online presence in a manner that will make the process of updating your listings less painful.
One option is to create a spreadsheet with listing names, URLs, logins and passwords. Choose a time period to check each listing (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually) to ensure that all of your contact information, such as your company name, address, phone number, website, email address, etc., are all correct and consistent with all of your online listings.
In addition to verifying contact information regularly, it is important to upload current business photos from time to time, and to keep your photo collections similar across all sites. Otherwise, customers may question if your business is still open, if you have more than one location, or whether your business exists at all.
Another option available when doing manual updates is a handy (and free) tool by RoboForm, called the Form Filler, which will automatically fill in website forms with one click.
2. Automatic Software Updates
If you’re like most business owners and SEO marketers, you may not have a lot of free time on your hand to spend manually updating local business listings. If you do have the luxury of even just a small budget to spend on marketing tools that make your life easier, then there are a few local citation services that will allow you to automate your citation management:
Each of the above software companies offer a simple solution for entering and updating local business listings online. By simply entering your business information using one of the above platforms, it will be sent out to the top tier local directories for you. You still need to keep track of any business changes, of course, but each update involves very little compared to doing it all manually.
3. 3rd Party Vendor Updates
If you don’t want anything to do with updating local citations, you can always hire a 3rd party vendor to do it for you. There are many marketing and advertising agencies out there that will monitor and manage your local citations for you. This way, you don’t even have to worry about it.
If you decide to hire an agency to manage your online reputation, be sure to do some research on the company, and check out their online presence. You’ll want to be sure that the company you're hiring has a good handle on managing their own reputation as well.
Whichever method you decide is best for your business, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. By providing consistently accurate online listings, potential customers will be more likely to trust and do business with you.