*This article is a guest post written by our local listings management and reputation intelligence partner, Yext.
As our CEO, Howard Lerman, likes to say, "People are local." That's not a condemnation -- rather, it's a celebration. More importantly, because people are local, mobile and local are the same. Our increasingly connected world means that having your business in local directories is more imperative than ever.
Consistency is Key
The quality and consistency of business listings has been, year over year, one of the most powerful ways to gain local search relevance. The key is not simply the quantity of citations, but also the quality of those directories. Publishing on directories with low domain authority will have minimal impact on your search performance. By contrast, sites with high domain authority will have an impressive impact on how other search crawlers "view" the relevance of your website.
The core of a consistent citation is for the NAP to match perfectly from one site to the next. NAP -- that is, the Name, Address, and Phone Number -- information is what directories, aggregators, and publishers use to identify unique businesses. Variations in the address, such as St vs Street, #4A vs 4A vs Suite 4A, 00100 vs 00100-0110, and a myriad number of other combinations, together and apart, can throw search crawlers for a loop. Take control of your listings by claiming and verifying as many as possible of your business citations and making edits. With Yext, you can match and lock in your listings' information in 3 days' time.
Mobile and Local Convergence
We opened this post by saying that local and mobile are the same. This grows ever truer with each passing day. Per StatCounter: "Mobile internet usage in the US has grown by 73% over the last 12 months to reach 24.4% in August." That means at least one in four times your business is sought out, it's on a mobile device.
This means ignoring mobile is not an option. Ensure that your website is mobile optimized, with dynamic layouts and small-screen-friendly layouts. Avoid using Flash, and put your most important information -- NAP, hours, menus/product and service offerings -- in plain text that is readable on a mobile device.
Also ensure that your business is discoverable on mobile-friendly location discovery apps. These include Google Maps, Foursquare, Apple Maps, and anything else that may power a location discovery experience. To quote our CEO, "With geodata and content in the cloud, marketers are not betting on the long-term success of any particular service. They're betting that they want to quickly and easily deliver a local message across any service." Getting your business accurately on mobile-native apps will pay off big in the long term. Since mobile location discovery is inherently local, having your local listings in order facilitates and supports these efforts.
Every Little Bit Adds Up
When it comes to local, small changes can have large impacts. Knowing this, make choices with your listings that emphasize your local goals. Location discovery is only one of the things that good listings aid and abet. Bringing to your customers, both current and potential, information and products that are relevant to their in-the-moment needs will pay off major dividends every time.