Local Listing Management FAQ

Successfully managing local search presence requires a bit of art and science for agencies, multi-location brands and small businesses. While it's important to review local pages, monitor reputation and optimize SEO - at the CORE is the business listing data used by search engines, apps, online directories, GPS and navigation systems.

This valuable information guides customers to local businesses in the last few miles of their journey, but the way platforms source and use data is complex. The result is that listings are often displayed with inaccuracies or inconsistently. This impacts search ranking and the customer experience.

Neustar and Moz hosted a webinar with the Local Search Association (LSA): How to Stop Worrying about Local Listings & Focus on the Customer Journey. Below are some behind-the-scenes insights shared in the webinar on how the local search ecosystem sources and determines listings and ways to ensure they are accurate and consistent. View the recording of the webinar to learn more about how to improve search presence and get the most out of local business listing data.

Why is there chaos with data in the local search ecosystem?

Business listing data is constantly changing. If not actively managed, 60% of it will be outdated in 2 years. The data is brought into the ecosystem from a wide-range of sources including communication service providers, agencies, listing aggregators, publications, government agencies and crowd-sourced. As the data is processed, it's hard to pinpoint what is accurate so duplicate and outdated information is shared and recycled. Well-intended practices such as suggest-an-edit that enable updates from unauthoritative sources allow more 'bad' data to enter into the ecosystem.

How do sites source and use local business data to display listings?

Search engines and directories have different ways of determining what they publish. Many pull bits of data from multiple sources, including government records, phone books, trade specific publications, listing aggregators and directory assistance files. The pieces of information do not always match up accurately. Platforms, such as Google My Business, source the data directly from the business through a registration system. This puts the responsibility on businesses to claim and update their local listing data on multiple registration sites.

What is the best source of local business listing data?

The best source is directly from the business. They know their hours, details on location, contact information and any recent changes. But many businesses claim a listing and then move on. The listings aren't reviewed or updated regularly. Active listing management helps to ensure the most accurate and updated local business listing data is published across the ecosystem.

How does 'bad' data get in place?

Most bad data was accurate at one point in time and just became out of date without regular updates. For example, a business updates their new address in multiple registration sites but does not update an older telephone directory. Publishers try to get as much data as they can and will pull from all sources. Old information stays until you proactively change it.

How do we 'thwart' bad data and get rid of duplicate listings?

First continue to publish good data across multiple sources. Then work to eliminate bad data. You can do this manually by finding all references and requesting an update from each source to correct it. You can also use duplicate suppression to redirect to accurate data. This is a good temporary solution but does not change the underlying issue that bad data is still there. The best way to fundamentally get rid of bad data is with a deep cleansing process. Getting help to find the 'bad' data and automate distribution of new data to your existing listings saves a lot of time and effort.

What is the impact of inaccurate business listing data?

Customers rely on local search results to help them find local businesses and services. When they have negative experiences such as calling a wrong number, showing up just after they closed or go to a wrong location due to bad data, it causes frustration and loss of trust. Consumers are almost twice as likely to blame the local business for the bad information versus the search engine or directory they found it in.

What are the steps to successful local search management?

  1. Make it a priority to actively manage listing data to ensure it is current and consistent
  2. Use listing syndication partners to improve adoption of listings across every platform
  3. Review all the ways local data is displayed to customers - think "Omnichannel"
  4. Get rid of outdated information so it doesn't appear in your listings in the future

How long does it take for new business listing data to be updated?

One of the challenges with multiple sources is that they all have different timelines. When you use a listing management service to update and publish your business listing data, it is sent out within 24 hours. But when it is published varies by platform and could take a few days to several weeks to be updated in the listing.

What is the best way for a small business, say an auto repair or a dentist or a hair salon, to manage their local listings?

The majority of customers rely on and trust search results to find and make decisions about which local products and services to use/buy. For small businesses, local business listings are the most efficient way to get information out about their business and no local business owner can afford to neglect the data published about their company. Using a listing management service is a cost-effective way to get the most accurate information out there and allow the business owner to focus on other areas of their business and serving customers.

How is search ranking impacted by local business listing data?

The number of times a business is listed, the accuracy of the data in the listing and the quality of the platforms they exist on all influence search rankings. Search engines like Google have a lot of data about each business. If the data in a listing matches what they have the validity of the data is trusted and it strengthens the chance of ranking well.

Are aggregators still the best way to ultimately get rid of all bad data?

Yes, aggregators play a vital role in getting your business listing data updated and published across the local search ecosystem. Their strong relationships and close work with the search platforms gives them knowledge and experience to help process and optimize the data to help ensure your bad data is eliminated from these sources.

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