By Mohannad El-Barachi, SweetIQ
Shopping happens much differently today than it did 10 or even five years ago. When was the last time you used the yellow pages to look up a business name? Now you most likely turn to your phone for information, whether it’s to begin your research, or to pinpoint specific information about a retailer’s address or hours of operation. According to Forbes, 95% of smartphone users have used their phone to look up local information. After doing so, 61% called and 59% visited the store in question. Search and discovery sites like Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Bing are the yellow pages of today, so it’s not just important for retailers to be listed there, it’s crucial.
This isn’t news. If you do a quick Google search for “listings management,” an array of different companies pop up offering to solve your problem. The listings industry is approximately 10 years old, which has left plenty of time for companies to crowd the space. One of the biggest problems our industry faces today are stale, stagnant listings. Let’s take a closer look at how this problem came about.
For a while, getting listed on as many directories as possible was thought to be the best approach to listings management, and not only that, but the ONLY thing businesses had to focus on. When the local SEO industry began to pick up momentum seven to eight years ago, this approach made sense due to the way Google’s algorithm ranked local pages. The more you had identical listing data (such as NAP — name, address, phone number — data), the more likely you were to rank.
The industry responded with listings solutions that reflected the popular opinion at the time, enacting a “pay and spray model” across a fixed number of directories deemed “important” for ranking signals by Google. Because this approach relies on location information being syndicated to a predefined number of directories without organic claiming, it causes a number of issues:
- Saturation: When all businesses are listed on the same directories, with no true content differentiation, no one wins.
- Stagnation: Impressions skyrocket at the initial creation of the listings but plateau fairly quickly, and in many cases start to dip over time. If everyone in the industry is also claiming and updating basic NAP data on the same set of directories, those who want to succeed will have to go a step further.
So What’s The Answer To Owning Local Marketing With These Realities In Mind?
Most local SEO experts agree that it’s not about the quantity of citations you have, but the quality of the sites they are featured on. They also highlight how important it is to claim existing listings and delete duplicates where you can. To succeed in the local ecosystem today, first focus on choosing the right directories for your industry based on pertinent local data.
To really take your listings strategy to the next level, you have to make them stand out. The most obvious solution is ensuring your listings rise to the top of Google.
Constantly updating a location’s listings with relevant updates is one method we’ve seen work for our clients. By updating location descriptions with rich content like photos, and including relevant links to sales and promotions that synchronize with an overall marketing calendar, we’ve seen an increase in impressions over time, as well as a lift in the number of actionable clicks on any links. Look at relevant metrics like calls to stores, driving direction requests, in-store visits, coupon redemptions, UBER rides completed, etc. Collecting this type of data is the first step in attributing actual dollar spend at the store level that originated from a local campaign.
Listings management is just one part of local marketing — a very powerful subset of marketing that, if used properly, can dramatically increase the number of conversions for any brand or business owner with a brick-and-mortar location, or one that services a local geography.