Once every year when I walk down to the mailbox I see the latest phone book sitting under my mailbox. They put it in a plastic bag to keep it dry. Back in the day these were the local search engines. At last count I have 3 phone books sitting on the kitchen counter, but I can’t tell you the last time I opened any of them. When it’s time to find a local business or service (local SEO) , I pick up my phone or open my laptop. In 2014 over 70% of consumers said they had replaced their phone book with the internet. And that number has grown each year since. The cool thing is you can get the same listing as those phone books for free online. And more people will see them.
Here’s a stat that blows my mind every time I look at it. There are more mobile devices on the face of the earth than there are people. Wrap your mind around that. Mobile devices have something in common…location (GPS). So, when someone asks SIRI to find the best chiropractor near me then if you’re the best then you’d like SIRI to find your business for that person. That’s what local search is all about. Success with local search engines depend on being found online. At the heart of this is the accuracy and consistency of your Name Address and Phone Number aka (NAP) across your website, local citations and business directories. Local search engines can’t rank what they can’t verify.
A recent study uncovered some disheartening patterns of local business owners. While 85% of local businesses say that they know the importance of being listed in local business directories, less than 50% of these same owners have ever updated their information. The same number of them, 50%, said they know they have erroneous listings; however, 70 percent believe that correcting this would be “too technical” and take too much time to correct them. In fact, over half the business owners haven’t even claimed their free Google business listing.
Negative Factors with Local Search
According to SEO company Moz, the No. 1 factor in negative local search ranking is a listing detected at with incorrect or false NAP. That means the information on your Yelp listing is different than your listing on Angie’s List. Next is inconsistent name, address and phone number across several platforms. This means that your Google listing doesn’t match your BBB listing and so on. Inaccuracies like these will kill your local SEO. All told, NAP consistency plays a role in over half (54.4%) of ranking performance. Even if your website has the perfect on page search engine optimization an incorrect or inconsistent NAP will place your business in the bottom half of rankings.
Although those statistics are shocking and even a little bit scary there is good news. The clear solution to place your business ahead of your competition is to claim your local business listings. Once you claim your listings you will be able to make corrections to your NAP and business information.
Let me warn you it’s not easy. There’s a reason for the numbers above. Once you correct an incorrect listing, it’s quite possible for it to pop right back up again later because there is no one single authority for business data. What this mean is if you correct a Bing listing, Bing may see that listing still exists on Yelp and re-create it automatically. So, success depends on you correcting a large majority of the inaccuracies. If you don’t it’s unlikely, you’ll ever rank locally for anything but non-competitive keywords in local search engines like Google Maps.
We started off by talking about phone books and technology. Let’s end with a hypothetical situation. Joe Customer is walking down Main Street U.S.A. He pulls out his smartphone and does a search for you’re a product or service that your business offers. Will he find you or did you just lose a potential customer?