Local Marketing Online: Part 2: Web & Map Listings

Maintaining consistency across the web is absolutely essential if you want to take advantage of the local marketing opportunities online. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of web directories and map listing services on the internet that have acquired your business information from either a contacts list provider or an outdated, cached web page. More often than not this information is inaccurate and simply does not reflect your current business strategy. Why is this important? For two very important reasons which I will explain.

First of all, search engines are now aggregating information across the internet from a variety of sources in an attempt to accurately identify the relevant companies whose web pages they are indexing and delivering in search results. So, for example, if you cannot easily be identified because your address and/or phone number information is different in the web or map listings from your website, or the listing contains either no link or a dead link to your website, or the Profile Description doesn’t match up with your website profile, search engines will not feel confident to deliver your listing as a relevant match to the search made.

Secondly, inaccurate or misleading web and map listing information may cause you to lose prospective customers. I have told this story once before but it remains relevant. We helped a high end, local brick-and-mortar retailer client claim web listings that not only inaccurately categorized and described his company as a charity but also listed a phone number that was no longer in service. How did the web directories get the wrong information? They probably found it on a list of companies that had donated money to a charity.

Claiming and strategically managing your web and map listing information is a critical component to your success. Here’s what we typically find when we claim listings for clients:

  • Phone numbers that are wrong or incomplete
  • Addresses that are wrong
  • Inaccurate or incomplete company name
  • Listed in wrong categories
  • Inaccurate Profile Description or none at all
  • Information missing
  • Irrelevant images or none at all
  • Dead links to web pages
  • No link to website
  • No listing or wrong listing in Google Maps or Map Quest

You get the picture. So how do you know where to find these directories and how do you go about making changes? Well, that’s going to take a lot of your time so get a big cup of coffee for yourself and a comfy chair! But before you go online to search for the gaggle of directories in which you are listed, you have to work out your business strategy. The goal is always to achieve and maintain consistency across the internet so that you can begin to develop your online profile across multiple web directories and map listing sites.

What you will need to do to prepare:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive keyword research and development to determine the terms that accurately identify what you offer as well as reflect the language used by your targeted audience groups to search for what you offer. The keywords you select will be used to develop your listings and should correspond to the content you present on your website and elsewhere on the web. They are the foundation for the development of your online authority.
  2. Write out your Company Name exactly how you want it to appear on each directory site.
  3. Using one or two search terms from your keyword research, develop a highly focused Profile of no more than 150 characters.
  4. Develop another one of no more than 200 characters.
  5. Prepare 1 to 10 professional, web-ready digital images that accurately reflect what you offer and name each one using one of your search terms from your keyword research. Although each web directory or Map listing site has different requirements, typically each digital image must be smaller than 1MB (and 1024 x 1024 pixels), and must be in one of these file formats:  JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, BMP. Since Logos are images, follow these same guidelines.
  6. Although each directory has its own naming structure for Categories, using your search terms from your research as a guide, identify no more than 10 categories under which you would expect prospective customers to find you.
  7. Make a list of your hours of operation for every day of the week.
  8. Write down each location address. Indicate which one is your principle location.
  9. Write down each telephone number, clearly identifying the principle phone number. Something to consider if you are using a toll-free number is local listing results prefer local numbers with area codes that correspond to the locale.
  10. Write down the fax number.
  11. Write down each email address, clearly identifying the principle one.
  12. Write down your web address.
  13. List each of your services exactly as you want them to appear.
  14. List your principle product categories exactly as you want them to appear.
  15. List any special items you want your prospective customers to know such as the principle Brands you represent, special Qualifications, Certifications, Professional Memberships, Awards, or other relevant information.

The above list represents the information you need to Claim Your Listings and ensure the information you present is consistent across all collateral web directory and map listing sites.

The benefits to maintaining consistency across web directory and map listing sites are many and include:

  • Supports the building of your online authority
  • Search engines can easily index and deliver your listing in search results
  • Prospective customers can find you and are clear about what you offer
  • Reach mobile users searching on portable phones and devices

In my next installation of the Local Marketing Online series I will take a close look at Google Places. You will learn why it is important to claim your account and how to take full advantage of all it offers.

Read the Series:

Local Marketing Online: Part 1: Intro
Local Marketing Online: Part 2: Web & Map Listings
Local Marketing Online: Part 3: Google Place
Local Marketing Online: Part 4: Search & Social Media
Local Marketing Online: Part 5: City Sites, Reviews & Recommendations
Local Marketing Online: Part 6: Share Content
Local Marketing Online: Part 7: Email Marketing
Local Marketing Online: Part 8: Pay Per Click Integration
Local Marketing Online: Part 9: Mobile Marketing
Local Marketing Online: Part 10: Optimized Web Design

Local Marketing Online: Part 2: Web & Map Listings