Consider this nugget: according to comScore, over 19 billion searches are performed on the top five search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ask Network) per month in the U.S. – yep, you read correctly, that’s billion with a ‘b’! If you operate a local or brick and mortar business, local search engine users are your potential customers! In fact, according to research performed by comScore, over 60% of consumers consider local search results to be more relevant than other areas of common search results pages.

What is a Business Listing?

From an online perspective, local business listings are free listings which appear on search engines and other online directories showing information such as hours of operation, business photos, payment types and consumer reviews in addition to basic business contact information.

As a local business owner or a national brand with locations across the country, having a presence within the local results on the search engine page is important for ensuring your customers are able to find your contact and location information.

Where Does Listing Data Come From?

Unfortunately, since information is gathered into the listing from a variety of sources, there is an opportunity for wrong or incomplete information to be sourced. How this may occur is best explained by a quick overview of the life of a business listing which begins, without your direction, as soon as your business is established:

1) The basic components of your business information are created when you sign up for general business services such as a phone line, internet connection, banking, etc. and are then shared with a variety of print and online service providers.

2) In the process of sharing your information, providers may unintentionally alter or consolidate the business information to fit their business type or goals (i.e. to sell ads).

3) Your listing information is shared across online directories and search engines which may, in turn, share all or part of your business listing with consumers.

Take Back Your Listing!

As the business owner or manager, your voice and input is especially valuable to your potential customers. Over the past two years the major search engines, especially Google, have placed an emphasis on local search results, often prioritizing local results above the organic links when a search is performed with a local intent (i.e. strawberry farms in Plant City). This prioritization of local results provides huge value for businesses and it’s your job to take advantage of local search results by creating useful and optimized listing information for your customers that can be sourced by listing providers.