George Tsafonias By George Tsafonias • March 6, 2015

Stop What You Are Doing & Claim Your Local Listings Now

George_Tsafonias_Blog_Header George Tsafonias Co-Founder of Market Loyal

Local listings are the foundational first step to your business success in 2015

It's confirmed 2015 is the year for small businesses to focus on their local market. Why? Because Google is making it mandatory. While many small business owners have grand intentions to take over the world most of the time, the marketing solution to local success is right in front of them being over looked.

Having worked with hundreds of small business owners over the years one thing remains constant "There is no magic bullet to getting business". However, if you're a local business or a multi-location operation, it's all pretty simple; you need to build a local online foundation first. Think of this analogy. Say you were in the process of building a new home from scratch would your contractor talk to you about windows and cabinets before the concrete foundation was poured? The answer is 100% no !!!! Most small business owners ignore their businesses' local market listings and, get this, it's FREE. Yet business owners do this all the time when it comes to local listings and building their own businesses and its completely out of logical sequence.

What happens is they engage in marketing out of logical business sequence both online and offline? You spend more and it takes longer. Some examples are businesses spending heavily on Yellow Pages, Pay Per Click, Billboards, or even Advertisements in local publications with the hopes that the phone will ring off the hook (they do this without having any sorts of tracking mechanisms in place). Better yet they do these things and spend all this money and then they complain that "All marketing is expensive and waste of money" and vow never to do it again, which is your guaranteed ticket out of business.

When you register your business with the state you live in, your business information is pushed out to local directories like Google My Business (AKA Google Places), Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, and a host of other data aggregators. Then it's listed and it's your job to go and claim them, make sure there are no duplicates, that they all have consistent information and are robust with pictures, the correct categories etc. Or you can find a digital partner to get this done for you. It can be a daunting task for a non technical business owner but you can't just walk away from them if you want a strong foundation.

Why should you as a business owner worry about this local listing data? There are over 300 ranking factors that Google says are important. Well over 20% of those factors are directly associated with local data or "citations" pointing back to your business. Having consistent and accurate Name, Address and Phone numbers (NAP info) will truly lay the foundation for moving forward with your other online marketing strategies as well.

"80% of people research online before purchasing in a 10-20 mile radius"
(Pew Research Center 2014)

Here is what you must have to qualify for a local business listing in Google My Business and other directories. According to Google.

Your business must meet all four of the following criteria:

  1. You have an official business name or DBA
  2. You have a local phone number that matches your city of location (not a shared phone number, toll-free number, or call tracking number it should start with your local area code.)
  3. Have a dedicated physical street address (not a shared address, PO box, or virtual office). If you work from home that will work remotely or from home it can be done. (Contact a professional)
  4. Make face-to-face contact with your customers (business is not conducted virtually) (Local Business)

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George Tsafonias is the CEO and Co-founder of Market Loyal is a digital marketing agency with a focus on helping associations, small businesses, franchises and agencies target prospects and drive clients on a hyperlocal level. He has consulted for some of the world's top brands such as Nascar, Hewlett Packard, AT&T and has also worked in the trenches with hundreds of small businesses across the country to create improve their competitive edge within their local markets. For more information or help on how to claim your local listing contact us today