One of the biggest misnomers with local listings is that putting up your listings will create a lift in traffic. However, this is not typically the case, nor is it the primary reason you should create listings.
In some cases, when listings are not claimed and managed by the businesses themselves, publishers may have listings that were created by aggregating information fed by users of that publisher; for others, they can be created by aggregating your organic info. These two scenarios can create a huge margin for error in the accuracy of your business information. When a potential customer is looking for your business listing and finds that the address is incorrect or the phone number is invalid, that customer becomes frustrated, your brand reputation suffers, and you may have just lost a potential customer.
The main importance of claiming listings is to disseminate accurate business information, as well as improved branding, across all platforms and publishers.
Why all publishers? Over the last year, there has been a growing number of publishers making deals together to power information to each other. Foursquare continues to be a growing local data provider; recently entering into a partnership with Microsoft to contribute to Bing’s location and context layers on Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Yelp powers Bing’s local search experience with their local data, and as of earlier this month, has announced that they are partnering with Yahoo! to do the same. Other publishers have partnered to provide in-car navigation, directions and maps to phones, etc. etc. And this is just the beginning of things yet to come!
While claiming and managing your listings is all good in theory, many don’t feel they have the bandwidth or the capacity to manage their listings across all platforms. I would suggest trying out a bulk listings manager, such as Yext. Yext allows marketing managers to house their local content in one, centralized platform, and then pushes them out across their ecosystem of 50+ publishers or about 95% of the market share. There are other perks to using a listings manager, which varies on a case-by-case basis. However, in this instance, Yext allows for changes to listings to be updated in real time, and you are also able to export your listings into a template that is already formatted for Google Places.
Claiming your listings directly through the publisher can also have its benefits. Paid listings on Yelp gives you access to features and benefits you wouldn’t have through unclaimed listings. For example, you can choose which order your photos show up in and even put your branded photos first in the image carousel. You can create a call-to-action (much like an ad), which, when clicked, will drive users to a designated landing page. You can create an “About This Business” description. And perhaps most notably, paid listings on Yelp will remove competitor ads from your listings.
Local listings are continuing to become more and more important in the overarching local landscape. Claiming and actively managing your local listings is more than just about lift, more than just about content control – it’s about creating a consistent brand across the digital world and setting up your omni-channel presence. Better to be proactive and get in the game sooner rather than later, so good luck and happy listing!