There are many online platforms that have listings for local businesses. From online directories, to search engine listings, to maps and GPS systems, to social media sites. You’ve heard of many of the major platforms:
All of these sites, and the hundreds of others, have a few important things in common:
- FREE to create, claim, edit, and optimize your online business listing(s)
- A dedicated audience that uses the platform on a regular basis
- The ability to interact with your audience
You don’t have to login to these platforms everyday to benefit from controlling your listings on these platforms. In this article we’ll highlight some of the benefits of controlling your listing on these platforms, without spending too much of your valuable time.
1. FREE to create, claim, edit, and optimize your online business listing(s)
All of the major online platforms offer free online listings for a business. Chances are, your business is already listed on these platforms because either a customer added it manually or because the platform pulled your business information from a data provider.
Create your business listing
If a listing doesn’t already exist for your business then you can create one very easily on (most of) these platforms. You’ll submit your business information, images, a logo, hours open, and more (depending on the platform).
Claim your business listing
If a listing already exists for your business then you can claim the listing. Each platform has a different process for claiming listings so we can’t cover all of the processes in this article. Feel free to contact us if you have problems claiming a listing, though.
When claiming your business listing, you’ll need to verify that the listing is yours to claim. This is usually done with a quick automated phone call to the number on the listing or with a postcard being mailed to the address on the listing. The postcard method can take up to 2-3 weeks via mail for some of the platforms so we recommend phone verification when it’s offered. Whether you choose to get the phone call or the postcard, you’ll receive a verification code that you’ll need to provide to the platform to confirm that you’re actually the owner of the business listing you’re trying to claim.
Edit your business listing
Once the platform is claimed then you’re able to take full advantage of the listing and edit any information that is incorrect. Is your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data and other important business data 100% correct? It may sound like a no brainer but actually 43% of businesses have an incorrect or missing address in their online listings. If a customer uses that address to get directions to your store or office, they may not end up in the correct location.
If a phone number is incorrect then that customer will have to search another platform to find your correct contact information or end up finding one of your competitors that does have accurate information. Either way, it’s not a great experience for your potential customers.
Make sure your NAP date and other business information is correct. The next step is to optimize your listing by making sure your profile is 100% complete.
Optimize your business listing
These online listing platforms want you to use your listing as a marketing tool which is why there are many places for you to customize and optimize your listing so you stand out.
Adding logos and images will make your business look a lot more appealing than other they’ll find. Of the two examples below, which business would you pick if you were looking for a gym in the Lombard, IL area?
CrossFit business with a claimed and complete Yelp listing:
Besides the images, also note the information in the box beneath the map. The claimed/optimized listing offers multiple ways to contact the business where the unclaimed Yelp listing only has a phone number listed (hopefully the phone number listed is correct).
You can also optimize these listings by adding search engine optimized content in the business information section, search engine optimized images, and much more.
In a local search for a gym near me, the optimized listing will usually show up above the unoptimized listing (ranked 4 and 10, respectively):
Yelp does a great job of walking you step-by-step through the completion of your platform to make sure you don’t miss any key areas.
2. A dedicated audience that uses the platform on a regular basis
Getting in front of consumers is what marketings all about. The beauty of online directories and other similar platforms is that there are dedicated users on the platform, searching and interacting all the time.
With that large of an audience, it’s hard to imagine your business not showing up for a search or two. So when your business does show up in a search, it’s important that the information the potential customer sees is accurate so you can convert them into a customer.
3. The ability to interact with your audience
Platforms like Yelp attract so many people looking for businesses because it’s a trusted review platform. Potential customers search Yelp for a business, they read the reviews, decide whether to become a customer of the business, and if they do become a customer, they contribute to the Yelp community by leaving a review of the business for future Yelpers to reference. It’s what keeps sites like these going and it’s happened billions of times (yes, billions with a “B”).
You can’t always control who leaves you a review on these platforms or what they say in these reviews, but you can control how you react to the review and how you’ll respond to the review.
If there’s a negative review on your business listing and you haven’t claimed your listing then you have no way of interacting or apologizing to that customer for their review. However, if you’ve claimed the listing then you have an advantage because now you have the ability to:
- Be alerted via email that there is a new review
- Have the ability to respond publicly or privately to the review
Being able to interact and respond to customers that leave you a review is HUGE. Not only for the customer that left the review but also for potential customers that come across your listing in the future. Even if they see a bad review (which is expected, everybody has a bad day and an unhappy customer from time to time), if they see a genuine response from the business owner with an apology and a promise to use the feedback to improve their business, that potential customer will know that you care. It’s will make a potential customer much more willing to try your business.
Being able to send the reviewer a private message is also important because you may be able to get a private conversation going that leads to the unhappy customer removing their bad review. After all, the only way to make a review disappear on Yelp is to get the person that wrote it, to remove it. The only way they’ll do that is if they’re satisfied with your response and are willing to remain a customer.
It’s a great idea to send private messages to people that leave positive reviews, as well. A quick and timely “Thanks for your review!” along with a personal message from the owner will reinforce to that customer why they continue to be a customer, and will go a long way towards growing your business.
The Bottom Line
You can’t control where your business is listed on the internet but taking control of how your business listing appears on major platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, Foursquare, and Yp.com will give you the ability to edit, monitor, and optimize your listings, as well as the ability to interact with your customers.
Need help getting your online reputation under control? Contact us for a free consultation.
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