Elevating the customer journey begins when a customer first searches for your business. Are you being found when potential customers are searching for your service and are your all your locations’ listings accurate across all search platforms? If you can’t confidently answer yes to these questions, you’re not alone and many multi-location brands also face these challenges.
In a recent webinar hosted by Localogy, we teamed up with Neustar for an informational webcast, A Roadmap for Local Listings: Elevating the Customer Journey. Led by Brian Smith, Director of Data Partnerships at Rio SEO, and Lynne Brehmer, Director of Product Management at Neustar, the duo discussed how to effectively manage your local listings at scale and mitigate common listings issues before they arise.
They also covered:
- How Syndicators, aggregators, and other data providers can help improve local listings accuracy
- Why technology + expertise remain key for positive local listings experiences at scale
- Traits enterprise brands should strive for in their local listings
In this post, we will discuss some of the main topics covered in the webinar as well as an overview of the live Q&A.
Enterprise brands must be the source of truth
Google aims to be the single source of truth for local businesses, however inaccuracies in information fall on the brand itself. What’s more, inaccurate data can affect how your brand’s locations appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) which might negatively impact your business.
Consumers want to know the information displayed in your local listings is accurate and up to date. Even one bad experience a customer has with a brand can be enough to drive away loyal consumers. Your enterprise brand must be the source of truth across all search platforms, which may sound easier said than done. So how do brands accomplish this level of accuracy?
The local data ecosystem is complex
When most people search on their phones and computers, the first search engine they likely turn to is Google. However, the local data ecosystem isn’t solely reliant on Google. It is made up of many different players. If you’re only focused on maintaining accurate information in Google, you risk misinformation and outdated data appearing in other places consumers are searching. Both presenters agreed multi-location brands should not ignore any publishing medium in their local marketing strategy.
Aggregators vs. Syndicators
Aggregators have played a large role in the local ecosystem for years. In fact, aggregated data used to be the only way to populate data ten years ago. Now, aggregation has become far less critical, with business models shifting mostly towards listings syndication instead.
Syndicators offer services to businesses that allow them to push the correct information across a broad network of local search sites, apps, and navigation systems. This helps prevent misinformation and sends a clear signal to other networks that the information being published is the source of truth.
5 Potential impacts of inaccurate listings
Local business data is constantly evolving. In fact, 20% of business records change each year and 60% of businesses identify data as out of date within two years. If your listings are inaccurate your risk:
- Poor user experience
- Updated/corrected location information can be slow to update
- Reduced local search visibility
- Erodes consumer trust
- Missed opportunities
5 Traits for Enterprise Brands Should Strive For
Enterprise brands should ensure all their location’s listings have the following traits:
- Accuracy: Listings are free from errors and you syndicate the information regularly.
- Consistency: Achieve a uniform brand identity across all search directories.
- Integration: Sync all updates across GMB, search, and Maps so people across all neighborhoods have the same access to information at all times.
- Optimization: Fully utilize all the fields available in your listings to deliver as much information to your customers as possible.
- Visibility – Make the connection between motivated searchers and your locations to close the loop.
Local Listings Issues
Some of the most common listings issues we encounter include:
- Duplicates – Conflicting data can lower your search rankings and lead to confusion with your potential customers.
- Ownership conflicts – Sometimes, this may require manual intervention. Local listings professionals can help assist with this to free up your time.
- Negative or Low Review Volumes – 72% of consumers won’t take action if they’ve heard someone else has had a negative interaction with your business.
How Syndication Platforms Can Help
The most seamless way for enterprise business to claim their listings across all search platforms is with the help of a syndication partner. Syndication partners allow your business to be found accurately and consistently across the entire local ecosystem. They also help you:
- Own your listings
- Seek out duplicates
- Become the single source of truth
- Use a broad publishing approach
- Optimize your first-party business data
What can we as brands be doing to proactively service our clients digitally, considering the current state of affairs with COVID 19?
Brian: During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a number of updates taking place. One of the most recent changes we’ve seen many brands utilize is changing their listing name to render the type of services they have available, such as drive-thru or takeout. Google Posts for COVID-19 is another big update, whether you’re offering a special offer or want to simply communicate changes in your business operations.
How can I reflect temporary closing and/or different store hours for my business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Lynne: During these trying times, we are all working together to help businesses better communicate their services, offerings, and updates. If your brand is operating with different hours than normal, we recommend updating your business hours in your GMB to reflect this. Brands can also update their business descriptions to let customers know they’re temporarily closed or adding special hours for high-risk customers. We also recommend brands consistently monitor their listings during these times to ensure your listings are being accurately reflected at this time.
What are some of the things that other listing providers are doing to help communicate this change of business hours and availability to service customers?
Brian: Right now, Google is being inundated with individual change requests. Due to this and a reduced support staff, we’ve seen delays in getting changes published. To account for these delays, we recommend adding messaging on your local pages to quickly communicate any changes to your business operations.
Since Google accounts for the majority of search traffic, do inaccurate listings at sites other than Google really matter?
Lynne: While Google is the largest search engine, other search engines and online directories are still very much in use. Remember that a single bad experience from an inaccurate listing in any online directory can drive a ripple effect. It’s also important to note that Google does factor consistency across data sources into their search ranking factors.
You mentioned that local strategies like feeding data syndicators is a long game, what’s a reasonable amount of time for results to be shown for NAP consistency throughout the local ecosystem?
Brian: From brands that are actively feeding data to syndicators, we have seen growth within 3-6 months. The vast majority of other sites will begin using the correct information within this timeframe.
How should I optimize my listings for voice search?
Lynne: Voice search is a hot topic within the search space now that every generation is welcoming its ease of use. 18% of all sales will be made via voice search by 2022, which proves its growing market share. To optimize for voice search, make sure you’re using structured data in the form of schema on your website. You’ll also want to ensure your business listings are being fed to all voice search platforms such as Microsoft (for Amazon), GMB, and Apple (for Siri).
To gain even more insights into how to manage local listings at scale, we recommend checking out our whitepaper, co-written with Neustar.