Google Places, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, FourSquare.
Yelp, CitySearch, YP.com, Super Pages, Dex Knows, Angie’s List, MerchantCircle.
Regardless of how busy you may be, there’s no reason you can’t at least focus on the most prominent local directories. All of the directories listed in tier 1 ( Google Places, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, and FourSquare) have step-by-step portals that guide you toward creating an account to update your information. Each slightly varies in their method of verification, but generally, you will be presented with the option to receive either a phone call or postcard at the number/address listed for your business, in order to confirm what they have on file is in fact accurate. The phone call route is usually ideal due to being near-automatic, while postcards can take as long as 6-8 weeks to arrive. It’s important to note Yelp follows these same guidelines for claiming a listing, and is only listed in tier 2 due to the strong focus placed on user-generated reviews.
So you’ve established an accurate presence on the most popular of directories. Now what? The next tier of directories, such as Citysearch or SuperPages, will require a little more effort to claim ownership. They usually require a confirmation conversation with an actual human being either via email or over the phone. In the case of multiple locations under a single name, some directories offer a mass-upload option where all pertinent information is filled into a template spreadsheet and updated at once. Just because these directories may not be top-of-mind doesn’t mean they should be ignored. After all, the more listings you have throughout the web with accurate information, the higher the rank you’ll end up in search results (generally speaking, of course). When claiming these listings, it’s recommended to go above and beyond just verifying the NAP (name, address, & phone number). Fill that page up with as much business information as you can offer, including but not limited to:
- Detailed description (including URL & keywords).
- Hours of operation.
- Business imagery (location, logo, product, etc.).
- Products & services offered.
- Social media links.
Even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of building out these listings with rich content, it’s in your best interest to at least go through the claiming process. Believe it or not, there are nefarious individuals hi-jacking competitor listings to drive ill-begotten traffic their way. Don’t say I didn’t tell you the Internet can be a seedy place.
Step 3: Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Once your online presence is cleaned up, now the real fun begins. Because your listings have now been optimized, you can expect more customers to find you, and in turn, more reviews. This means you’ll want to put together a strategy for monitoring and responding to these reviews - especially if they’re negative.
This doesn’t require sitting on the page all day waiting for feedback. Try to set aside a small amount of time each week, like Friday afternoon, to browse through your listings and see if your customers are reaching out. Some sites make this simple enough with dashboards, while others require a manual approach. However you choose to set up your routine, just make sure to stick to it. There are very few things more off-putting to a potential customer than a neglected review.
Keeping up with local directory information may not be as simple as it once was, but that’s the trade-off we have to accept for having the wonderful platform that is the Internet. With a little time and effort, there’s no reason your business can’t be both accurate and visible to potential customers.