The first step in the journey towards a marketing goal is to know where you are standing. One of the more important things to do as part of the initial assessment is also one of the easiest; searching online directory listings. If you are just starting your journey this is a good place to begin; specially if you operate from a single physical location. A company is more likely to receive attention in map style directories when their customers can easily relate them to a physical address. You might be surprised of all the listings you already have but didn’t actually created, that is the magic of Web2.0, it is collaborative.
Google promotes locally targeted search engine results. Being properly listed in popular directory sites will give your site a boost in local search results. The chances of getting people’s attention increase almost exponentially the closer you get to the top of search engine results. That is why there is so much emphasis on SEO when it comes to online marketing. This nice chart by SEOMoz shows the average Click Through Rate (CTR) of the top ten results in Google.
People trust those sites. Even sites with good ranking can lose revenue because of bad online reviews. Searching for your company in different online business directories can give you an idea of how it is perceived. You can see your rating, who is reviewing your business and compare numbers with other companies in the industry.
They could end in the wrong hands. Larger sites implement security measures to protect listings from being edited with inaccurate information but the possibility exists. When your company’s reputation is the line you want to be aware of any change in your business profile.
What directory listings should I check?
The larger map style listings:
- Google Local (former Google maps)
- Yelp. Used by Apple maps.
- Here maps by Nokia. Used by Bing and Yahoo places.
- Facebook places.
The good old ones:
- dzmos.org (Google uses their biz description in some cases where no other source is available)
There are a bunch of sites out there that you should look into depending on your industry, these are just a small sample:
What exactly should I be looking for?
Is your company registered? Are there any duplicated listings? Is the listing getting positive ratings and lots of views? How about your competitors? If you are not listed what do you need to register? Is the listing sending referrals to your site or your business? Is the information correct, updated and complete? If listing upgrades are available are they worth it?
What if I have a listing but I do not own it?
Each site has it’s own claiming process. Some of them allow editing suggestions so you do not have to own the listing to change it but you should take the time to make it officially yours. Normally all you need is to answer the phone that is in the listing, but some sites might use the mailing address, your official business email or just a couple of dollars. Here are some of the requirements and things I encountered when claiming listings across several sites:
- Google Local: business phone or mail + email. Postcard can take up to 2 weeks.
- Facebook place: scanned document (like a utility bill) or a business email that matches the website in the listing. Owning the business page helps if you are merging duplicate listings.
- Yelp: business phone + email. The site generates the PIN and you enter the number when the machine calls you.
- Foursquare: any phone + email + $1 or mail (postcard with PIN).
- Nokia Here: business phone or mail + email. Postcard can take up to 6 weeks.
- Trip Advisor: business phone + email. You can set a time for them to call you later and give you the PIN number.