It seems that everyone is talking about the importance of free small business listings these day—and for good reason. A recent survey shows that 97 percent of people use them to find US local businesses when they want to visit a store or restaurant.
But one important key is creating and maintaining the free small business listings is getting them right the first time, and correcting them if they’re wrong. And thanks to technology, local business owners now have the choice about whether they use automation to correct small business listings or do it manually.
But First, Why is it Important to Correct Free Local Business Listings?
A local listing does more than tell shoppers where to find local businesses. It also helps the search engine spiders identify and then rank your local business in the search engine results. In short, the more local business directories you’re listed on, the higher in the search engine rankings you’ll appear.
But that’s true only if all of your small business listings match. For example, if the name of your local business is Main Street Clothing Company, and it’s listed on one local business directory as Main St. Clothing Company and another online small business directory as Main Street Clothing Co., those local citations will not be attributed to your business because the names aren’t exactly the same. The same is true for the business address, phone number, and website that appear in the local listing.
That’s why it’s so important to continuously search for new small business listings for your business and correct them as soon as you can.
Now, let’s get back to our topic. Should you correct free small business listings manually or use the automation that is available on the web?
Using Automation to Correct Local Business Listings
At first glance, it may appear that using automation is the right choice because it will save you tons of time. After all, if you have correct each of your local listings by hand, it could take hours. But there are definite drawbacks to using automation for this important job. Here are a few:
- Software can’t spot the nuances. Any time you’re allowing a machine to preform a task, you run the risk of it not being able to spot the nuances, and in this case, that could lead to big trouble. For example, some businesses have more than one phone number and need to list them both so that consumers can call the right number. But automated software, such as Yext, doesn’t allow for that. It will look for only 1 phone number, and if you happen to be a local business owner who has more than that, it will flag your local listings as incorrect.
- Your fixes are temporary. If you sign up to have an automated system fix all of the inconsistencies in your local businesses and then come to the end of the contract and decide not to renew it, guess what happens? All those fixes it made to your small business listings will revert back to the pre-corrected condition. That’s right, when you use an automated system, you sign up for life, otherwise the fixes are only temporary.
Correcting Your Free Local Listings Manually
Your other option is to correct each of your local business listings manually. While this may seem like a lot of work, the benefits you’ll reap are well worth it. For example, once each and every local listing is corrected, the search engine spiders will attribute them all to your local business—and that will increase your search engine rankings.
What’s more, as you look at your business listings, you’ll be able to spot any information gaps, outdated information, or other areas that need immediate attention. Only you, or one of your employees, know your business well enough to optimize your local business listings the right way.
Free small business listings are the face of the future for local business marketing. But in order to make the most of these free and effective marketing tools, you’ll need to make sure they are updated, corrected, and optimized on a routine basis.