A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the reasons why you should optimize your business listings, and then the Google “Pigeon” update happened. This algorithm change focuses specifically on local business listings, making them even more essential to your business’s overall Internet marketing strategy.
In case you missed all of the hoopla, Google’s latest grayscale-animal update occurred on July 24th and primarily impacted local search results. Post-“Pigeon” SERPs appear to favor Local Packs in groups of three rather than seven, which certainly look a lot nicer on mobile and leaves more room for organic results. However, local directories – and Yelp in particular – seem to be benefiting the most from the newly available page-one real estate.
If your business listings weren’t up to snuff before, then now would be an excellent time to optimize them (or check if you even have them in the first place). As Google more frequently serves up directories on page-one for search queries with a local intent, you’ll want to leverage all of your business’s available online assets.
Make Your Listings Look Presentable
Ready to optimize your business listings but don’t know where to start? Here are the five items every listing should have (when applicable).
1. NAP (Business Name, Address & Phone Number) - This one should be a no-brainer, which is why I’ve lumped them all together. Assuming you have a brick and mortar location, filling out these three fields should be easy. While we always recommend using a local phone number, the most important thing is to provide the most accurate information consistently across all directory sites.
2. Website URL - If your business listing is properly filled out, then there’s already a great deal of information available to potential customers right on that page. However, sometimes certain information or services can only be obtained from your website, so why not make it easier for people to get there? As an added bonus, creating links from business listings to your website is a natural and white-hat way to link build.
3. Hours - Did you know that consumers searching with a local intent frequently search for business hours? They do. In addition, a study conducted by comScore, Neustar Localeze, and 15 Miles found that hours of operation was considered the most important piece of information to be shown on maps. Bottom line: don’t neglect this field.
4. Photos - The default clipart picture of a building or a person isn’t going to do much to attract new customers. Upload the maximum amount of pictures to help your business stand out. Photos are also a great way to convey what your business is like and how it looks. One exterior photo can be helpful for customers trying to find your location when driving by.
5. Categories – Last, but certainly not least, are categories. Many directory sites allow you to choose anywhere from two to ten categories that best describe your business, industry, and/or services. While they are typically visible to users, categories are often more helpful to search engines as they help signal relevancy. If you want your business listing served up to people searching, do not forget to properly complete the categories section.
Depending on the directory site and your industry, your business listings may have even more fields to complete. If that’s the case, I say go for it. These five elements just provide a solid foundation; don’t be afraid to take full advantage of the additional features available to you.