To help make the pathway a little more clear for you if you’re starting to do local listing optimization on your own, we’ve outlined our tried and true process to staying organized and efficient at moving things along and cleaning up your business listings online.
Start with a spreadsheet –
Organization is a big part of this process, in my opinion. A proper layout will help you keep track of the status of each duplicate listing as well as the next steps you need to take.
We manage a variety of clients, so we have one big spreadsheet with every client on there. If you would prefer to have a separate spreadsheet for each client, that works too. Make columns for the following pieces of data:
- Client Name
- Concerned Listing
- What needs to happen on that listing (I use keywords like Remove, Claim, Verify, or Fix to keep things short)
- The listing URL itself
- (optional) A deadline for the current step
Add all your listings –
Next, search for listings and citations that need a little work. Start by searching Google for “your business name + city”. Go as far back as you’d like in search results, but open all the search result links that aren’t based on your website domain. You will recognize most as local listing sites, but if you don’t recognize the name and it still has your business information, it’s probably a local listing site.
Check all the listings you’ve just opened to determine whether all the information is correct for your business. Local Listing Optimization can be a big process, so depending on how much time you have, you might not want to get too picky. Start with the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number), and if those are all correct, check the business website and business email. Those are the important things to check accuracy on. If all of that is correct, but there’s a spelling error in the business description, then maybe save this listing for later, when you’d cleaned up all the other inaccurate ones.
Add all the listings that need work to your spreadsheet. Whether they have an old business address, the owner’s name in the business name, or they just haven’t been verified to your account, add them to the list, and indicate what needs to happen for each to be fixed.
The kind of notes I leave are things like “Fix name and address” or “Correct information, but a correct listing that we manage already exists on the site”. I’ll always include the date before my note so that as I add more notes in front, I can scroll back and see what progress has been made and what’s already been tried.
Start with the easy ones –
Once you’re ready to start cleaning up the listings, start with the easy ones to pare down your list. I qualify a listing as “easy” if I: (a) already have access to it and know the password, (b) requires an action on my part that I can do right then, such as verifying via phone call, or (c) only requires a form to be submitted in order for the change to take place. Over time, you’ll learn which listings are “easy” for you.
Here are some tips for some of the major listings to help you get started:
- If you are cleaning up local listings for your own business, start with Yelp. You can claim the listing right then, or contact them via form on the duplicate listing to have it removed. It may take a while for them to respond with the form, but then you can put those listings on the back burner and all the local listing sites that feed from Yelp will be updated.
- YP.com, ExpressUpdate, CitySearch, and Localeze are all really good about responding to emails. I’ll send them a message using the email address on their Contact page just explaining what is wrong with the listing or that it’s a duplicate and include the correct information and correct listing for reference.
- I’d say that 9/10 Hot Frog and Bing listings are unclaimed or able to be reclaimed by a different account. If you find any of these for your business, create an account or log in to your existing one, search for the business, and follow the steps to claiming it to your account. Then delete the duplicates or correct the information.
More difficult listings –
Listing that fall under this category may have one of these attributes: (a) they have already been claimed and you either don’t know the login information or who to contact to get that information, (b) the listing site doesn’t have a contact number or email, (c) you’ve tried filling out the form or contacting the site and haven’t heard back from anyone in a couple weeks.
You’ll need to decide on a difference course of action. If the site looks podunk or doesn’t have a ton of information on it (i.e. doesn’t have separate listing pages or only includes your business name, city and phone number), then I’d probably skip it and leave it for last. Your time is better spent on the major listings that have more inaccuracies and more information for your business. If you’ve tried all the avenues of communication without getting a response, consider whether this listing feeds from another source. If it’s a valid listing site, it probably does, and it should be updated in time as you fix other local listings. If it’s not linked to any other site, then I’d consider it podunk and leave it for last.
As a last-ditch attempt, you can always create a new listing for your business on that site and either make it different enough that it stands apart from the pre-existing listing or contact the listing site to have them remove the original as a duplicate once you’ve created the correct one. WARNING: This should definitely be a last-ditch attempt, and only used with caution. Duplicate listings are always bad and could negatively affect your business’ rankings and standing online, but depending on the local listing site, it may be more important to you to have an accurate representation of your business so potential customers can contact you.
Continual work is required to ensure that your business information stays accurate across the web, and that’s the purpose of utilizing a spreadsheet to keep track of what step you are on throughout the process. Local listing cleanup is a big deal. It takes a lot of time and energy to complete, and even then, you’re never really finished, but correct information across the board can have a huge impact on your business’ online success. We’ve found the above method to work for us, but some variation might be more successful for your particular business or your schedule.
If this sounds like too daunting of a process, you might consider paying a data aggregator or SEO company to perform this cleanup work for you. When it comes down to it, you must consider what value you’re willing to place on the time it would take you to do it yourself, as well as your understanding of local listing sites.
We wish you luck in all your local listing endeavors and hope that you found this outline useful. Have questions? Get in touch with Kite Media and we’ll see how we can help!