If you own a local business, or oversee digital marketing for a brand that operates physical locations, you're likely all too aware of just how important local business listings are when it comes to your in-person success with customers. Those listings contain the facts about each of your business locations — including store hours, holiday schedules, products and services offered, people profiles, and contact information — which are necessary for both search engines and consumers to make informed decisions about you.
On average, business listings receive 2.7X more views than a brand's owned website* (including local store pages and directories). So even if the information on your website is perfect, if the same business facts are not up to date and consistent across third-party services and directories, there's a good chance consumers won't find the information they're seeking.
Of course, just as the quantity — and specificity — of the facts about your business continually increases, so too does the number of those AI-driven discovery services you need to provide with that information. And though the effort to keep your business information up to date across these many apps, maps, search engines, directories, and voice assistants can eat up valuable time (at least, without the right tool to help you manage it all), it's necessary work.
Every search is a local search.
Consumers today expect the answers they see in search to be contextually relevant to them. This started a while back with the initial rise of mobile devices, and the subsequent popularity of "near me" searches. Now, search engines like Google prioritize local search results as the default for many queries, like "women's shoe store" or "best Chinese restaurant," on both mobile and desktop — no "near me" modifier required.
With local listings prioritized in search results, good local listings are simply good SEO. And inaccuracies (or inconsistencies) in your information across channels can hurt your local listings — which in turn can hurt your rankings and overall discoverability.
Local search is more widely distributed than classic search.
Local search is increasing at an exponential rate. And services like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Facebook make up a much larger portion of mobile searches than classic searches.
More customer interaction points than ever with new consumer services.
When 75% of local mobile searches result in a visit to an offline business within a day, and nearly 30% of those visits result in a purchase, showing up in local search results is a great way to get the details about your nearest business location in front of high-intent consumers.
Inconsistent (or missing, or duplicate) local business listings can erode brand trust and cost you customers.
So what happens when you appear incorrectly, or fail to appear at all, on even one of these digital services? Not only is bad business information a roadblock that prevents potential customers from successfully visiting your store or purchasing your product, it can also cause customers to lose trust in your brand (Google Maps now pushes warnings to users who are en route to locations that it believes to be closed) — potentially driving them through a competitor's doors instead of your own.
*Yext Proprietary Study, February 2017