You’ve decided you’re going to try that new local restaurant everyone is raving about. You check the hours, get in your car, and drive 30 minutes to get there. When you arrive, you see dark windows, no cars, and an obvious “closed” sign on the door. Irritated, you grab your phone and pull up the Google page you searched before you left. The hours on the page note that this business should be open, but the closed sign on the door is laughing at you, telling you otherwise.
While consumers may be annoyed, as the local business owner, this is no joke. Local business owners want you to pay them a visit. They don’t want you to be turned away by inaccurate information. They also wouldn’t mind ranking higher in search engine results.
By learning about data aggregation and how it pertains to local listings, local business owners can get an understanding of how to display accurate information and rank higher in search engine results.
- Local Searches Are a Big Deal
Every day, people face situations where they need to go somewhere local to find something. In fact, according to Google, “four in five consumers use search engines to find products, services, or experiences nearby.” These searches can be for anything, from a local restaurant to a pharmacy. They happen everywhere, and they can happen any time on any device. People can decide where to go based on what pops up first and the reviews of the various options they have.
For area businesses, local searches are a big deal. If a customer is searching for a regional business in your particular industry, they’re more likely to buy. Google noted that 34% of consumers who looked up local information on their computers or tablets went to the store. 50% that used their smartphones to search also headed to the physical location.
Data aggregators disseminate information to directories such as the Yellow Pages or White Pages. If local business information isn’t readily available or it’s inaccurate, people may be steered away from an enterprise and toward another option.
- You Need to Build Citations
Any mention of your business on the internet is a citation. A complete citation should include the basics: company name, address and phone number (NAP). There are also two different types of citations. Business listing sites, such as Yelp, feature structured citations. Unstructured citations can be found in blogs or websites and can be valuable to local citations.
Data aggregators collect information on local businesses, such as NAP, by way of business registration websites, printed yellow pages’ directories, and phone records. If the info is accurate, it can be made available to sites such as Google and Yelp.
Incorrect information about businesses on the internet is a result of poor citation building. Citation building is getting correct data listed on several directories so it’s accurate. If a business doesn’t get its information listed, search engines may pull from other places on the internet, which may have inaccurate info.
- Inconsistent Information Hurts
Search engines aren’t big fans of inconsistent information. If a business has inaccurate info, it seems untrustworthy. Before building citations, gather relevant information about your enterprise; this should include the name, address, and phone number. It may also list a website, a quick description, and hours of operation. If possible, feature social media links and a company logo.
Once you’ve gathered this data, Google your business to see what comes up. Is the information accurate? Remove any duplicates and incorrect citations. If your business has moved in the past or changed phone numbers, make sure the info is up to date, as it can lead to misinformation on other sites, as well.
- Use Data Aggregators to Input Your Information
So you’ve got all of your information ready to go. Now what? To build accurate citations for your business, you can input your business information directly into data aggregation sites. There are four main data aggregation players: Localeze, Infogroup, Acxiom and Factual.
You can also use Moz, for a price. Moz submits your information across all of the main data aggregators, saving you some time.
- Spend the Time… or the Money
While building citations and ensuring the information displayed on search engines is accurate can take some time, it’s definitely worth it if you have a small business. By building citations, a company can increase traffic, generate reviews, and develop a level of trust between search engines and customers.
You can also pay to have sites such as Moz get your info out there onto data aggregators, which trickles down to search engines. Just make sure you Google your business results to confirm the information is getting through.
A local business can easily climb search engine rankings and build rapport with customers with these five tips. Take the time, and get your local business out there. Or you can simply hire an agency to help you with your local listing management (like you didn’t expect a shameless plug here).