The Power of the Business Listing – Building Trust in 2019
*A big thank you to the Queen of Local SEO, Bernadette Coleman, for sharing this advice she has for succeeding with local listings. Bernadette is the founder and CEO from AdviceLocal, an award-winning local search technology and local presence management company and valued partner of Neustar Localeze.
Local businesses are always in fierce competition with household names on the web. To be a viable competitor, they have to improve their placement in search. There are many ways to do that, but an important step has to be taken care of first: the local business listing. Creating, claiming, and optimizing a business’s listings is key for establishing trust between the local business and their consumer base.
Optimized Local Business Listings
We talk about business listings frequently. That’s because they offer immeasurable benefits—but they can also hinder business if they aren’t optimized well. Optimization takes on many different forms, but it all starts with claiming a listing. Duplicate listings and incorrect content create what we refer to as bad data, which we’ll go further into shortly.
An optimized listing will nail down an accurate NAP (name, address, and phone number) right away, have updated hours of operation, include photos, be listed under the right business category (or categories), and have positive reviews. It is imperative to have a “complete” listing with as many detailed attributes included as possible. A well-optimized listing builds trust with consumers. Is this all that surprising? We can all admit that we’re more likely to be patrons of businesses that have accurate and robust information.
As we’re well into 2019, we also have to think about all of the ways that people search today and will search in the immediate future. Voice search use is projected to rise substantially in 2020 and beyond, and even A+ listings fall short on the voice search-readiness scale.
Localeze has prioritized voice search optimization. Submitting business listing data to Localeze and other key data sources helps to ensure the presence and accuracy of location data across all four major voice search platforms: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple/Siri, and Microsoft/Cortana. Businesses need to keep voice search in mind when implementing new trust measures.
The Major Effects of Bad Data on Local Business Listings
Bad data is the #1 enemy of local businesses and their listings. For a business that is already competing with big brands, not being found easily will affect consumer trust. Bad data happens to good people all the time. It can be the fault of the owner or manager from a recent business opportunity, or it can result from user actions online. Regardless, bad data, which most often means outdated listing information, must be rectified as soon as possible.
If a business merges with another company, launches a full-scale rebrand campaign, or simply moves offices, it creates the perfect opportunity for bad data to interfere with a business’s trustworthiness. If the NAP is not correct within a citation on the web and a searcher winds up disappointed, they’ll likely be heard from. Then, other searchers may also find the bad information, and damage control is in order.
User actions can also lead to the creation of bad data. An example of this is when a consumer checks in somewhere and there is interference between the specified location and the one at which they’re pinpointed. It’s a fine line to walk, because we do want user interaction within local profiles and listings. The downside is that 73 percent of consumers lose trust in a business with incorrect or confusing location information. They’ll likely give up if they can’t locate the storefront.
Luckily, bad data can be sorted out. Most listing management providers offer free online visibility reports to give a business an idea of where they stand on the internet, demonstrating how hard or easy it is for them to get seen and found by consumers. The less visible a business is, the more it directly translates to their lack of trust with consumers. These businesses are continually losing the opportunity to gain reputability. A citation audit will help uncover duplicate listings and incorrect NAP data; a business owner or listing manager can perform an audit themselves.
E-A-T and the Local Business
E-A-T is an acronym established by Google that stands for “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” This is a foundational concept for all search engine optimization practices; it’s the end goal for every effort that will lead to trust in a brand—and ultimately profit. With every listing, piece of content, and ad strategy, a business is vying for a consumer’s trust. Besides having pristine listing data, a business can earn trust by setting themselves apart from their competitors and showcasing their determination to go the extra mile. Both of these things can be done within a listing itself.
Quick Response Time and Authoritative Content Go a Long Way in a Local Business Listing
Local business listings are different than websites. There is a small space to make a significant impression, but it can be done. Optimized listings, like those mentioned above, go beyond correct NAP information; they should be grammatically correct and foster interaction with potential consumers. With mobile search increasing, listings are taking a renewed importance. Navigation systems use listing data, not website data, to populate their search results.
Speaking from a Google My Business standpoint, there are more opportunities now to display content than in years past. Google Posts now offer the ability for businesses to publish shorter posts on relevant topics as well as promote limited-time offers. Both authority and trust can be proven in a finite amount of words. Businesses can also leverage the Google My Business app to communicate with consumers in real time.
It’s been proven that 84 percent of consumers trust reviews left online as much as they would a recommendation from a friend. Listings on Google, Bing, Yelp, and other directories offer the ability to leave reviews. These are forums that open up the business to the good, the bad, and the ugly. But how they handle the latter two speaks volumes, and it contributes to their public perception of being trustworthy. Always respond to less-than-favorable reviews in an understanding, calm tone that makes the customer feel heard. Others will see this and will be more inclined to understand the situation from both perspectives.
Build Trust, Don't Break It
Just like with interpersonal relationships, once trust is lost online, it’s hard to regain it. It’s time to make the necessary moves now to earn and keep a steadfast consumer base! Who’s ready?