A strong local search presence and visibility is important for single & multi-location businesses. Over 90% of consumers now use search engines to shop locally; these searches are happening from desktop, mobile, apps, from maps, and even from GPS-enabled in-vehicle devices. In short, wherever your consumer is, whatever device they’re on, you need to be there when they are displaying intent and searching locally. How do you expect them to become patrons if they don’t know where or what you are?
By claiming your business online, through local listings, you are verifying that you are the owner of a valid business, and that you are authorized to maintain its presence on the web. Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing.
How do I claim my business online?
Most search engines or indexes will first ask you to determine whether your business already exists in their index. It will most likely already be a part of their system, even if you’ve never created a listing there! Unless your business has only recently opened, chances are that there is some record of it on the web. Generally, you’ll be prompted to enter your business name or phone number to discover any existing listings.
Once you determine whether or not it already exists, you will need to review any existing information, fix any incorrect information, and provide any new or missing information about your business name, address, phone number, website address, business type, and other details. This is when accuracy and consistency really count! Remember: You want all your business details (name, address, phone, website) to be identical on every listing platform.
Once your business information has been entered, you’ll be asked to go through a verification process. This typically happens in one of three ways:
- By immediate phone call, during which you’ll verify with a PIN
- By snail mail postcard and PIN verification
- By email, in which you’ll click on a verification link
With mail verification, it is important to alert all staff members who retrieve mail to be on the lookout for the postcard. Delivery can take several weeks and you don’t want them to get lost! Check through your mail thoroughly each day.
The time between completing verification and seeing your listing appear online varies widely from search engine to search engine. In some cases, your listing will be live in a matter of days or even minutes, but other local search engines have a lengthy manual review process, which can take several months for your listing to be approved for publication. While you wait, resist the urge to make any further changes to your submitted listings; this will only cause problems. Just be patient and check from time to time to see whether your business has gained full inclusion.
In certain listings, such as Google Places or Google+ Local, any future changes to core data such as the business name or phone number may trigger the need to re-verify. However, you can typically edit things like business descriptions and photos without any need to go through the verification process again.
The verification process is easier at some search engines than others. If you’re setting out to claim many listings at once, you may want to create a simple spreadsheet that helps you keep track of your efforts and progress with each listing you’re creating and/or claiming.
Many local consumers use search engines like Google and Bing, as well as Yelp (and your Yelp reviews!) directly on their phone, tablet, and PCs to find local businesses in their area. No matter how consumers find your listings, you need to make sure they provide the most accurate, compelling information possible to turn those searches into leads.
Local listings are a must for your business. Your accurate and updated local listing plays an integral role in local SEO. Search engines populate these sites at the top of their organic search results when a user is searching with a local intent. If you haven’t claimed your local directory listing, then there is a good chance that it has inaccurate or missing information about your business. This signals to search engines that they all belong to your business, which can increase the visibility of your listings (and your website) in the search results, helping you convert more leads into customers!
If you’d like more help claiming your local listings, be sure to drop us a line–we can increase the visibility of your business and help you harness the power of digital marketing!