Prospects puzzle and fume when they find conflicting information about your business name, address or phone number. Google feels their pain and inflicts it on your website’s search rankings. Illustration by Max Walter of Hollister Creative.
If you follow elections, you likely know the maxim for success that “all politics is local.” If you want to be found on the Internet, you need to know that Google thinks “all search is local,” too. Google assumes that when people search, they want nearby sources. The organic search algorithm is so weighted toward local search that it is challenging for a regional business to rank high outside the area where the business is physically located.
Online directories are key to getting found in local search. But directories are tricky. They can boost your business in search, but they can also boot it down in the rankings.
More than 100 online directories list basic information about businesses, including yours, even if you never asked to be listed.
Most list just the facts: your business name, address and phone number. If none of those facts has changed over the life of your business, the listings are probably correct. You get a boost in search results because Google views uniformly correct listings as a sign that online information about your business is trustworthy. If one or more of those facts has changed, the listings are almost certainly inconsistent. In Google’s view, inconsistencies undermine trust, so you get booted down in search results.
Directories that encourage customers to review your business are the trickiest of all. Lots of reviews that are overwhelmingly positive give you a boost. No reviews or a preponderance of bad reviews give you a boot.
Managing online reviews is a subject for another day.
Today let’s focus on getting accurate and complete information about your business into online directories. Click here for a list of the top dozen and a link to each. For each, follow the steps we call “the three C’s”:
- CLAIM your listing.
- CORRECT old or incorrect information.
- COMPLETE the listing by adding information to blank fields.
Of course Google’s own directory, Google My Business, is number one on the list of the top dozen directories. So if you do nothing else, claim, correct and complete your Google Knowledge Graph. That’s the large display area that pops up to the right when a searcher Googles your business by name. Try it yourself. If you see “Own this business?” under the phone number, you have not claimed your listing. Perhaps it feels overwhelming to claim, correct and complete the rest of the top dozen directory listings – let alone the other 100-plus. There are two alternatives.
- Pay for a subscription to Yext.com Power Listings. Yext enables you to manage directory listings from one portal and suppress duplicate listings that have incorrect information.
- Claim, correct and complete your listing for free on the five data aggregator sites. These are the primary sources of business data that other directories draw from. Although most people have never heard of them, aggregators play a huge role behind the scenes. Click here for the list and links to the aggregators and tips on navigating their sites.