Having cut my teeth in the retail part of our business, I understand the importance of being on the list. Whether the list was total sales, NSLI (net sales per lead issued) or some other measure, I spent a lot of time focused on those lists and how I could be at the top of them.

We’ve been working through finding success in the local digital marketing arena and trying to better understand the burgeoning importance of this battleground.

Turns out that lists play a huge role in the realization of this goal. While you certainly should be focused on the lists that we’ll discuss today, the focus is more on content than on position.

Let me explain what I mean…

Last time we talked about the importance of the local “three-pack,” the set of search engine listings right below pay per click listings on many searches done today. We have also come to understand more local searchers click on these listings than organic and PPC listings combined.

We mentioned a couple of things you can do to maximize the potential of your Google My Business listing. The first one (and maybe the most important foundationally) is about “getting on the list(s).”

Have you ever gone to Yelp to search for a review about a local restaurant you’ve heard about and found a page saying “Are you the owner of this business? Claim your listing here?” Even though Yelp has picked up the existence of the business itself, the business isn’t “on the list.”

As a local business trying to be found by customers who don’t already know you in our technology-driven world, you need to be on the list(s)? What lists? In this article on business.com, the author links to 48 free websites for you to consider.

Do you need to be on them all? Probably not, but many of them will make sense to spend the effort on.

No matter how many lists you choose to be on the most important thing to ensure is the consistency of your NAP (name, address, phone number) across all sites. Get this wrong and any and all work you do here is wasted.

Consistency of your NAP is a huge local ranking factor for Google and the other search engines, and something you must be fanatical about. Like it or not, it is about being exact.

For example, let’s say your office address includes a suite number. If on Yelp your address is listed as “Suite 100” and on your BBB site it’s listed as “Ste. 100,” Google can (and probably will) penalize you for NAP inconsistency.

NAP uniformity is not the only thing you should consider with your listings. The more successful profiles also include:

• A detailed company description including any local awards that you’ve won.
• A link to your business website.
• Other secondary business information, like hours of operation, etc.
• Pictures and videos have higher conversion rates than standard text.
• Customer reviews.

There is certainly some work involved in creating and maintaining your presence on these lists, but they are really table stakes when it comes to maximizing the potential of your Google My Business listing. Your web provider can either do this for a fee or connect you with companies that specialize.

After you’ve assured your place on the lists, it’s time to walk a mile in your customers shoes. Next time we’ll talk about how to do that.

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