Do you own a local business? It doesn’t matter what service you provide – you need to be listed in local data aggregators. But why, you ask? And what the heck is a local data aggregator? Fair points all around! And that’s why today, Today’s Business will explain what these aggregators are and how they improve your business, both online and within the brick and mortar.
People Need to Find a Trusted Business
From their inception around 1883 and throughout the twentieth century, the yellow pages and similar directories had it made; anyone who wanted it known what their business was and how to find it had to play ball. It wasn’t just that people needed to find your phone number and address. Being listed in the yellow pages helped establish your business as a legitimate part of your local community.
Fast forward to today and the premise remains the same. But the rules and guidelines of the internet have created new intricacies for businesses. If you’re a local hardware store, you’re not only competing against the one in the next town – you’re competing against any store selling hardware within a several-mile radius.
In today’s online landscape, if you don’t have a specific option in mind, there are several sources for finding a business, whether it’s Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, the YellowPages(.com), or hundreds more. Most importantly, people turn to the core search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
How Search Engines Get Local Data
Have you ever searched for your business, found a listing on Google Maps, and wondered to yourself how that got there? Data aggregators. Data aggregators have actually existed since the sixties and days of yellow pages. They were the solution to compiling your own list of companies within a certain industry. Now they exist within the wild west of the internet in the form of four major companies:
These data aggregators work by drawing information from public records and compiling it into a central database. This database is then accessed by their affiliates who publish the information on appropriate directories. Ultimately, local data aggregators expect interaction from the businesses themselves to ensure what they are reporting is accurate, but here’s the problem: if you haven’t been around, the aggregators won’t have your information right away. And if you’ve been around for a while, any unreported changes you’ve made to the business over the years will likely cause inaccurate data to trickle down throughout the directories. This causes a problem for customers trying to reach you, but it causes another problem for you within search engines.
Search engines such as Google have all incorporated a local search element into their engines, prioritizing businesses closer to your GPS-location. It makes sense, right? Why go to a place that’s an hour-drive away when you could walk to another? But what if there are eight similar options within a 15-minute drive – who gets top billing? In part, Google, Yahoo, and Bing prioritize businesses that seem the most legitimate. That means crawling the directories for appropriate business citations (note: a business citation is considered any listing of a business’s name, address, and phone number). When your data is inconsistent, it begins to raise a red flag.
Consequently, when considering who to put at the top of its search results, businesses with very few citations and/or inaccurate citations are going to be penalized. By utilizing local data aggregators, you’re not just controlling the information source from the tap, you’re potentially opening a valuable new tap that will exponentially increase your accurate business citations on the internet.
So If I Utilize Local Data Aggregators, Will My Business Show Up More in Local Search?
Yes and no. As with anything involved with search optimization, the process is a little more complicated. Beyond the data aggregator arms race, keep in mind the following tips as well.
Use a Local Phone Number
Customers are more likely to believe your business is local if they see an area code that they recognize instead of a toll-free number. But aggregators and local SEO sources also add more weight to a business utilizing a local number, and some may even require it.
Claim and Update All Your Listings
SEO espionage has diminished to some degree over the years, but still it remains. If you’re not in control of your business listings, do you really want them in the hands of a competitor? And if you’re a multi-location business, monitoring all your locations will ensure that they are being properly represented on each directory. And keep an eye out for duplicate listings!
The local data aggregators don’t have to do all the work when it comes to Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Each business can be claimed by you right now. What are you waiting for?! Go do it!
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
At the minimum, make sure your business utilizes pages on Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google My Business/Google +. Aggregators want this information, and so do your consumers. Keeping these pages accurate is just as important as your citations.
Also, if you were thinking that using local data aggregators can replace connecting with your audience through social media, forget it. For most local businesses, social media will continue to be an important aspect of digital marketing for the foreseeable future.
Let Today’s Business Solve Help Your Local SEO
For over 5 years, Today’s Business has been helping local businesses improve their footprint online. That includes working with local data aggregators and making sure our clients’ citations are correct. But we do more than manage citations. Today’s Business is a full-service marketing agency ready to push your business to new heights. If you’re looking for a skilled team to help solve your local SEO, contact us today.