Last week we discussed the challenges for businesses that need to be found both online and offline. To quickly recap, your business has one or more physical locations that depend on people being able to find you both online and offline. The challenges you face are that customers don’t know you exist, they are unable to engage with you and they can’t physically find you. So how do you ensure your business can be found in all the right places by search engines and people?
Have no fear! As daunting as those challenges can seem, when planned carefully in advance, there are clear paths to success. Here are five simple steps to ensure your business can be found:
- Create a database of accurate and consistent business information
The traditional vital pieces of information about your business are name, address and phone (NAP). However, as searchers and search engines become more savvy, additional pieces of data like your website URL, business category and hours of operation are equally important.
The first step in your process to being found is to make sure that inside your organization you have 100% accurate and consistent information about your business. This way no matter where that information goes, you can be sure that consumers are seeing the most accurate information available.
Pro Tip: Validate your street address against a national standard, like the United States Postal Service. Formatting it correctly in the first place can prevent errors down the line with directories that may use different standards from your internal organization.
- Clean your presence
Once you have your master set of accurate information, the next step is to find out where your business is already listed online. Gain access to those listings, fix any errors, and enhance the listings with quality images and content. Taking over existing listings is better than just creating new listings for a few reasons:
1) Creating a new listing without addressing older ones can lead to duplicate pages that confuse potential customers and the search engines
2) If anyone is already using the older listings, you want to enable them to keep doing so, but with more accurate information
3) While it may be a small factor, older URLs do tend to have a bigger impact on search rankings than new URLs.
You can find existing listings in a variety of ways. The simplest is to Google your business name and see what comes up. For more detailed analysis and deeper search into quality listings that can impact user behavior, you can use a listings management search tool like Milestone’s NAPtune.
Pro Tip: If your business changed its name or phone number, remember to search for that previous information as well. You don’t want old listings coming back to haunt you or your customers.
- Publish new listings in critical data amplifiers
Not all business listings are created equal! Since every customer is unique, you need to make sure your business is represented well in any place users can find you – from search engines, to maps, to mobile apps, to in-car navigation systems. While that could mean having to find and manage thousands of listings, a more efficient way to go about it is to identify the key data amplifiers – the handful of sources that collect business location data and power the rest of the internet.
By focusing on having correct information in these core data amplifiers – like Google My Business (GMB), Facebook, Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, Factual, etc – you can be sure that your accurate data is being pushed through a complex set of websites, hitting all of your key customer journey endpoints.
Screenshot of listings being managed by NAPtune
Pro Tip: While data amplifiers are a great way to spread your information exponentially, make sure to also build direct relationships with the directories/apps that your customer base uses most to ensure timely, accurate updates.
Stay tuned for next week’s post which will cover more solutions to the problem of being found online and offline.
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