If you’re a local business, your online listings can make or break you.
Sure, the Yellow Pages still exist, but in today’s digital age, most customers don’t know where to find them, let alone how to use them.
In 2018, your best bet for getting found by nearby, ready-to-buy customers is to create highly optimized, search engine-friendly business listings on the web — and make sure they’re accurate, current and up to date at all times.
Not sure how to get started with your business listings? Want to make sure you’re doing it right? Use this guide to on How to Claim and Correct Your Local Business Listings.
How to Claim Your Listings
The web is filled with tons of directories and business listing sites, but for the most part, you only need about five. Depending on the services and products you provide, there may be one or two more niche-specific sites you can add your business to, but we’ll dive into that a little later on.
The big five you want to be sure your business is on include:
Google My Business - This is priority No. 1. If you only have one listing, this needs to be it. A well-done GMB listing can improve your Google rankings, help you get featured on Google maps and ensure customers can contact you (and find you) easily and on the go from their mobile phones. How to get started: Head to Google.com/Business and click “Start Now.”
Yelp - Yelp is great for building your online reputation. Not only can you use it to post your hours, address, menu and other important info, but real-life customers can review you, rate you and promote your services on your behalf. It’s a great tool for boosting your search rankings, and its mobile app is great for drawing in local or those just passing by. How to get started: Type your address and business name in here, and follow the prompts.
Facebook - No matter what industry you’re in, your business should have a Facebook page. It’s no longer reserved for hip, tech-savvy companies or those aimed at millennials. Every business is on Facebook these days, and that’s because it offers serious inroads to your customers. Interact with them directly, update them on the fly of happenings and keep your business top of mind all year round. How to get started: Head here and click “Create a Page.”
Bing Places - Sure, Google might be the king of search engines, but Bing still claims about 22 percent of the market. And as Windows-based phones grow in popularity, that share is only going to grow. Make sure your business is listed on Bing (owned by Windows parent company Microsoft), and ensure you stake your claim in that growing market. How to get started: Head to this page and click “Get Started.”
Better Business Bureau - A listing on the Better Business Bureau is crucial if you want to show your business is trustworthy and legitimate. The site also functions as a review site and can give you serious clout with search engines (it’s considered a very high-authority site.) How to get started: Add your business by submitting a request here.
There are hundreds of other listing sites you can join but consider these top-priority.
Solution to Claiming and Correcting Local Listings
Hire a pro. Outlet Creative Group is a Yext Partner. What is Yext? Yext saves time and ensures your information is correct across channels by centralizing your data. Yext enables you to power your internal systems, website, and mobile app, along with our entire PowerListings® Network, all from a single central source. Search engines will trust your site and consumers will find you more easily.
One of the keys to local SEO is making sure your data is consistent everywhere. Yext uses custom-built local landing pages and integration-based partnerships with Google, Apple, Facebook, and over 100 other third-party apps, maps, and directories mean you can be sure your information is the same — everywhere.
When listings are managed properly and in a timely fashion, they can have a serious impact on your bottom line, so consider it an investment in your company’s long-term success with the help of Outlet Creative Group.
Ready to Get Started Cleaning Up Your Online Reputation?
If you want to take on the challenge yourself, try this:
Set up alerts. Most listing sites will allow you to set up notifications and alerts if something looks incorrect on your page. Many even allow users to report errors, so you get instant updates if someone encounters a bad listing. Make sure your listing accounts are all configured to keep you, your managers and your team in the loop.
Delegate. Have a social media manager? Put them in charge of your local business listings, too. Make checking your listings a part of their daily to-do list, and be sure they’re looped in if your hours, location, menu, services or other details are going to change. Those need to be updated ASAP and, ideally, in real time.
Top Six Listing Sites for Doctors
Why this site matters: This is a review site, so patients can post their opinions for all to see. Therefore it’s a good site to check in on regularly, to see if you’ve gotten any reviews. Be sure to respond to all reviews, good and bad!
How to make the most of it: My tip is that when you’re using any site where doctors get rated, you have to be aware that reviewers are not just rating doctors; reviewers’ ratings are based on rude staff members, nurses, and aides as well. So if your front desk is rude or follow-up is bad (for example, three days waiting for results rather than one day as promised), reviewers are going to respond to that experience, not the doctor herself, no matter how good she was!
Why this site matters: Patients will use this site as both a review and a search site. It allows visitors to rate doctors as well as their staff on things such as punctuality, knowledge, and how helpful they were.
How to make the most of it: RateMDs is free to claim and recognizes multiple specialties—both good things! Also, we’ve found that patient traffic is high to the site, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and claim your listing. This is fairly simple process, but be aware that you will need some licensing information so round that up before you start.
Why this site matters: This system allows patients to schedule an appointment online without having to pick up the phone. This is a great convenience for your patients, so we encourage all doctors to act quickly to claim their listings on the site.
How to make the most of it: There is an expense for ZocDoc, so you will want to get a price quote for your location before proceeding. We have found that ZocDoc works very well for physicians who are located in more populated areas where they have a lot of competition; you’ll want to factor this in to your decision to claim your paid listing or not. What we like about this system is that it allows physicians to integrate their scheduling software (if it’s supported) with the site. Because of this, real-time scheduling is permitted, and this is an excellent way to supplement the filling your appointment books!
Why this site matters: DoctorDirectory.com is another free site. The thing that sets this site apart is that profiles are not limited to doctors; it can be used by other licensed healthcare staff as well. And as we’ve mentioned above, patients are just as likely to rate your staff as they are you, the doctor.
How to make the most of it: This directory has some very interesting extras that are available to its members. Market research opportunities in the form of surveys are offered as well as sample offers that can be available to your practice. One word of caution on this: The site is free, but not all the offers are. Be sure you read the fine print to avoid signing up in error for an offer you have to pay for.
Why this site matters: BestDoctors works as a search engine and educational site. This is especially helpful when you have a difficult diagnosis to make. Being listed as a physician in your particular specialty is more about become better know with your referring physicians and colleagues than being found by patients.
How to make the most of it: BestDoctors is accredited for continuing medical education; by serving as a reviewing physician, you can receive one hour CME credit.
Why this site matters: Medicare.gov is the official federal government website for Medicare services; it’s a great place to be listed if you have an older patient base. Being listed here will assure patients that you accept Medicare.
How to make the most of it: If you accept Medicare, then you should be automatically listed. However, this doesn’t mean you are listed correctly! It’s crucial that you are listed correctly here and that you don’t make any mistakes when entering your information. If you do it will affect you getting paid, so proceed with extreme caution when making changes.
Keeping Your Listings Current
The only thing that’s worse than NOT having a listing is having a listing that’s incorrect or out of date. Imagine this: a potential customer finds you on Yelp. They’re excited
Minutes later, the customer arrives, only to find a sign on the door saying you’ve moved across town. They’ve just lost 10 minutes of their 30-minute break, and they don’t have the time to drive further to find food. They’re forced to eat at the McDonald’s down the street.
The end-game? You’ve lost a sale (quite a few, if you include the coworkers), as well as the potential for a long-term, loyal customer. They may even post a bad review of your establishment, tarnishing your online reputation and discouraging others from eating at your restaurant, too.
The moral of the story is pretty simple: your listings need to be current and accurate at all times -- across sites, devices, directories and all over the web.
Need help claiming and keeping your local business listings up to date? Outlet Creative Group is here for you. Contact us today to learn more.