Do Local Listings Really Matter?The most popular trends in digital marketing today are social media and content marketing. This is quite understandable. After all, content marketing is the “white hat” SEO strategy that Google loves, while social media marketing takes advantage of the ongoing fascination of the masses for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

But these trends don’t necessarily mean you should just forget rudimentary marketing techniques such as the use of local listings. We’re not talking about the ancient printed Yellow Pages here. We’re talking about their online equivalent – Yelp, YP.com, Yahoo Local, etc.

Local Listings and SEO

For most people, SEO invariably means ranking highly in Google, because that’s the search engine most people use. In the US, Google has 67.55% of the market, and its dominance is even more evident in mobile search, where it owns 87.1% of the searches. Google is also very popular among consumers of all types, because almost six out of ten use it to look for a particular local business.

So it makes sense that you’ll want to rank in Google searches for your keywords. But what most people don’t realize, however, is that getting citations in online directories can help with your local SEO efforts. In local listings, you’re invariably allowed to place a link to your website, which is good for your rankings. Local directories do this so people can get more information about your goods and services than what’s shown on their website. And when you have citations in numerous directories, you can expect that there will also be an increase in the number of people who visit your website.

These directories are extremely popular, as Yelp alone gets about 80 million monthly visitors in the US. That means more people are exposed to your brand and your advertising, and potentially this can mean more sales for your business. But here’s where it gets interesting: since a large part of Google rankings depends on how many websites feature a link to your own website, when you have dozens or even a hundred citations in local directories, that’s going to help your SEO considerably. After all, numerous quality websites linking to yours is good for SEO since 70% of all Internet searches are for local business.

Achieve Greater Visibility through Local Listings

The reason businesses spend an obscene amount of money on television commercials, newspaper and magazine print ads, and billboards is that they want to reach as many people as possible. That’s pretty much a given. That’s also the point why you have a website in the first place – to be seen by potential customers.

This is not a trivial marketing strategy, because 70% of all Internet searches are for local business. Now when you consider that, as of last count, Google gets almost 12 billion searches a month, it means 8.4 billion searches were primarily for local business.

When you have your own website, it’s like having a single number in a roulette wheel on which the ball can drop. But when you’re listed in a local directory, it’s like you get an additional number in the roulette wheel. You get more chances of being seen by your target audience. It’s sort of like getting an additional magazine advertisement or billboard that can be seen by more and more potential customers. The more local directories you join the more chances you have of being seen. So when your business is listed in a hundred different local directories, you have a hundred different ways through which a potential customer can find you.

Local Listings Let People Know about your Business

Like the old Yellow Pages phone directories, local listing directories allow you to promote your business address and phone number in a profile so that they can display on their website. This alone will give you a leg up on your competitors if your business is listed on these sites and they are not. Local listings offer a lot more information and more chances to interact with customers than those big heavy phone books of the past.

Local Listings, Reviews & You

It’s no secret that customer reviews can have a dramatic impact on your business. Word of mouth has always been a huge influence on buying decisions, and customer reviews can make that decision easier.

Almost nine out of ten people consider online reviews as trustworthy over recommendations from their friends. Now that’s some serious influence! But you should also know the importance of your own responses to reviews. You can thank positive reviewers and reinforce those warm and fuzzies between your business and that particular customer. This creates brand loyalty and super fans of your business.

You should respond to negative reviews by issuing an apology, offering an explanation or by emphasizing your good points. Responding to negative reviews can minimize the damage they can cause. There’s also the chance that the reviewer may reconsider their negative review simply because you responded and showed them you care. Nearly a third of all negative reviews are updated to positive reviews just because somebody acknowledged their issue.

Citations are a Good Thing – Go Grab Them

If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to prioritize your local listings. Most local directories don’t charge a thing, yet they can really make a difference in a multitude of ways. It doesn’t take much time or effort to get your business listed, and as a small business owner, capitalizing on cost effective resources like social media to grow your business just makes good business sense.