If your business isn't showing up in online searches, it's as good as invisible. Consumers are increasingly using the internet to find and choose businesses: More than 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product while conducting a search on their smartphone. And that's exactly why local listings are so important. A local listing is an online profile that contains your business name, address, phone number and other details people need to find and visit your business. These listings help boost local SEO (search engine optimization) as search engines have enough details to show the right content to those looking for you.
But there's more to getting listed than just entering your information. You have to claim, optimize and manage your listing. To help you make a great first impression and secure a top spot in the search engine results, follow these tips to get your business found online:
1. Be accurate and consistent
It might not seem like a big deal if your address is listed as "123 Main Street" on one local listing, and as "123 Main St." on another. However, when your listings are inconsistent, you risk confusing potential customers — and search engines. Here's a great example of how getting listed accurately helped one business stand out online and reel in a steady stream of local customers:
Bluff City Outdoors was the only business in Alton, Illinois, that carried bait, tackle and specialty catfishing gear that the big-box stores didn't have. Since Alton is a hotspot for trophy catfishing, Bluff City should've been popular with the locals. But when people searched online for bait and tackle shops, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, they'd find variations on a theme, including the store's previous name — Rodney's Bait & Tackle. The Deluxe team worked with owner Mark McMurray to update all of his listings with the right name, so people could easily visit the store.
The lesson here: Keep your business name, address, phone number and other important information consistent across the board. This matters down to the smallest detail. Since many online directories pull data directly from your Google My Business and Facebook listings, you'll want to make sure that information is accurate and complete.
2. Keep your business hours up to date
Does your business have summer hours or special holiday hours? Remember to update your local listings! People who visit your store only to find it unexpectedly closed may never make the trip again. Likewise, not letting online searchers know you have extended hours during busy seasons prevents them from visiting you during those times.
To keep new customers walking through your door, let them know when you're open for business. Start by listing your hours on the go-to platforms for people searching for local businesses — Google Maps and Facebook.
3. Get reviewed
Reviews aren't just a great way to spread the word about your business. Customers' buying habits are influenced by positive reviews. In addition, Google uses reviews to rank your business, so keep them coming. Don't be shy about asking customers to review your business, on Google, Yelp and Facebook especially. It will help you gain rankings and establish credibility in your community.
Local SEO efforts pay off in the long run. These three key concepts can help your business get found online, leading to more customers and sales.
See these tips in action at El Mercado, an authentic Mexican supermarket in Searcy, Arkansas, that was part of Deluxe's Small Business Revolution.