Local listings are a crucial part of any business, as a way to put your business on the map for customers searching within an area. As Google and other search engines put increasing emphasis on local results, it’s become critical to reap the growing benefits of optimizing local directories.

There are currently dozens of directories that are free to use, from Google+ to Yelp, plus even more paid ones, and managing all of these is often best left to marketing professionals. However, when offered the opportunity for on-going management of their local listings, many companies want to know: why can’t I just fix them permanently?

While a common misconception believes that there is one “master listing” which the other directories pull their data from, the truth is that there’s no such thing. Some also think that simply claiming a generated listing creates a permanent record, but the truth is that even if every one of your business’s listings was accurate in this current moment, on-going maintenance is still necessary for your listings to genuinely bring profits to your business.

Many directories adjust their information on file based on incoming information. This data can come from a number of sources, from government data to user-submitted info. As this data is collected on an on-going basis, it can change the business listing or add more information that may need to be corrected or applied differently.

For instance, your listings could end up looking like this:

777 Main Street, Suite 100

Houston, TX 77057

777 Main St. #100

Houston, TX 77057

777 Main St Ste. 100

Houston, TX 77057

Although these subtle differences understandably convey the same place to a live customer, search engines will see these as inconsistent, which can dampen the SEO benefit from your listings.

Even the slightest change can make your listings inconsistent and less likely to show up in local results. With dozens of directories providing an instance of your business’s information, and many of them updating regularly, this can quickly lead to lots of inconsistencies. Search engines tend to trust listings that are consistent across many directories, so ensuring that these listings are constantly been corrected kept uniform is important.

In addition, many algorithms used by search engines pull signals from how recently a listing has been updated when deciding rankings. Updating your listings on a regular basis with photos, promotions, and other information is important to show Google and other search engines that your listings are providing information that is accurate and up-to-date.

Local listings

Regularly updating the featured message on your listings will tell search engines that your listing is active

For the purpose of driving more traffic to your website, local listings are a valuable resource for your business. To ensure that you’re not wasting money on a service that doesn’t benefit your business in the end, be sure to invest in on-going management, as there is no one-time fix that will grow your traffic and your sales the way that true, consistent management of your local listing will.

Keeping your local listings updated and consistent can be efficiently accomplished by professionals, often at a very inexpensive rate. When considering the benefits of great listing management, the ROI for this investment can be significant for your business.

If you’d like to review the state of your local listings and discover any errors, you can scan your business for free.