A recent study by BrightLocal, found that 95% of consumers had used the internet to find a local business in the last 12 months – an increase of 10% compared to 2012. When searching to find information on different types of businesses, consumers show a variety in usage of online media such as search engines, directories, and numerous local publishers. Hence, in order to reach their target audience wherever they search, local businesses should ensure an integrated presence of their information across all types of media, including local listings.
So where do you start with local listings?
GetListed is a good place to begin with. This free tool allows you to scan your business listing on Google, Bing, and other local search engines, and provides an accuracy score that approximates how effectively you are taking advantage of free online business listings, and it also recommends an appropriate “To Do List”.
Some other free tools similar to GetListed are:
- White Spark Local Citation Finder
- Google Map Maker (edit/add your location on the map and see history of the changes)
If you are not satisfied with the score, there are two options to increase a visibility of your business on local search:
- Manually submit information to the top directories
- Use a service that provides a single point of entry for the creation and distribution of business profiles.
Because the first option is pretty clear for the most part, I would like to focus on the second one: directory distribution services. Below are the big name companies that provide local listings distribution:
- Universal Business Listing
Using Universal Business Listings – Our Experience
We were very excited when we purchased Universal Business Listings Premium Package in January 2013 for Confluence Digital. UBL claims that verified data will be distributed to all major outlets: search engines, online yellow pages, social networks, portals and guides, cell phones and mobile apps, 411 directory assistance, in-car GPS navigation and telematics services. In total, UBL distribution claims to cover hundreds of sites and devices reached directly or indirectly.
Confluence Digital moved offices only a couple of months after signing up with UBL and so almost immediately we needed to test the service as we needed to update our address across all directories.
From our initial understanding of the UBL package we thought this change would be easy and effortless, and hopefully be done quickly. None of us expected such a huge decrease in ranking for Confluence Digital on local searches, even Universal Business Listings once this address change request was sent. The worst thing is that after 6 months we are still recovering from the “mistake”. The issue, we found is the UBL processing timeline. They partner with three of the top anchor databases in the industry representing 95% of internet directories with a monthly feed to InfoUSA (1st of month) and second monthly feed to Acxiom and Dun & Bradstreet (20th of month). They use the general guideline minimum of 60 – 120 days depending on what date the listing is created and when it will fall in the next scheduled data feed to their partners.
Because our January 2013 listing was included in the February 1st InfoUSA data transfer, passed verification by Express Update, and was made available to the directories on around March 20, 2013, updating the address is now dependent on each directories’ data refresh schedule. Some directories may change the information within weeks, but others do not refresh their data for a month or two (e.g. 411 directories are quarterly at best, some only refresh twice a year). UBL cannot control that. Also, because they pointed that it is out of their scope of work to go to individual sites and take down outdated information, it is just our problem now.
Digging Deeper into Yext
There is an opinion that it’s worth submitting to the top directories only. Yext works with the core search engines and directories, they do not cover all local publishers, so many of their partners will manage those separately. However, those 46 networks that Yext does work directly with allow you to edit information in real time. While demoing its interface, the representative was able to change the address in portal and it was immediately updated in “CitySearch”. A few seconds vs. half a year (for UBL) is a huge difference. The Yext tracking and reporting tools look descriptive enough and even allow some managing of the reviews through different directories. The only downside, and it’s kind of a big one, is that Yext doesn’t distribute listings on Google.
Hopefully, the information above will give you a better, more comprehensive understanding of a local search and the importance of local directories. We will keep you updated on any other findings, as we know how profitable local listings opportunities can be for businesses.