If you’re running a business in 2022, you probably know that your online presence matters. How much? Well, at least 76 percent of consumers look at your online properties before visiting in person, and if you do the bulk of your sales online, that number only goes up.
But while “online presence” used to be synonymous with “website”, that’s changed throughout the past decade: with the rise of mobile and the proliferation of maps, social media apps and search engines, it’s likely that information about your business is listed in dozens of places. From Google to Yelp, to your own website, managing your “online presence” requires quite a bit of juggling.
So, how do you prioritise? At the end of the day, which matters more: your listings or your website?
What do your customers see first? Your listings (most likely).
Surprise: as you might have guessed, the answer is that your listings and your website both matter – but at different times and in (potentially) different ways based on your business type.
Far too many businesses neglect their third-party listings, focusing instead on branding efforts on their owned properties. These efforts matter, of course, but when it comes to what your customers see first and most often… it’s your listings.
Our research shows that, on average, business listings receive 2.7 times more views than a brand’s owned website* (including local store pages and directories). So even if the information on your website is perfect – and it should be! – if the same business facts are not up to date and consistent across your listings on third-party services and directories, there’s a good chance your customers won’t find the information they’re seeking. (Or, they might not find your business at all.)
After all, research shows that the purchase journey starts with an online search for the majority of people. With up-to-date, detailed local listings prioritised by search engines in search results, complete, robust local listings are simply good SEO. By contrast, inaccuracies (or inconsistencies) in your information across channels can hurt your local listings, which in turn can damage your rankings and overall discoverability – and your business as a whole.
But that’s not the end of the story, of course: your listings aren’t the only way to drive search impressions. Your website should too.
Your website works with your listings in third-party search.
The stats above show why your listings matter: your customers are likely to see them more often, and making them consistent and robust is part of what helps you show up in search results, full stop.
But they’re the first piece of the puzzle, rather than the whole story.
It’s fairly obvious why it’s important to have a website that contains holistic information about your business, in a format that you control. But did you know that creating optimised local landing pages for your website actually helps your listings perform better, too? Your web pages and your listings can (and should) work together.
By creating local landing pages with structured data and linking your third-party listings to those pages, you can allow search engines to associate all of the content on that webpage with the corresponding listing. Essentially, you can think of your local landing page as an extension of the local listing – one that’s not limited in the number of attributes it can store. (Remember, content is key!) In our day-to-day analysis of client performance data, we’ve seen that when a client launched optimised local landing pages, their listings visibility (measured by number of search impressions) increased as well.
Your website affects your customer experience and helps drive conversion.
Finally, your website experience matters immensely to your customer experience as a whole, and it’s also critical to driving conversion. (If you’re a business that sells primarily or exclusively online, this matters even more.)
In the same way that customers search for exactly what they need on search engines, they’re becoming more likely to behave in a similar way on your site. Can your customers find the information and answers they need on your website when they search, before they bounce away to a competitor?
Your website and your listings work together.
At the end of the day, it matters that you put your best foot forward via both your listings and your website. That said, your business type does play a role: if you’re a local SMB with a few locations who sells in-store, the bulk of your impressions – and your visits – are likely to be driven by your listings. If you’re a large eCommerce company? You need to manage any applicable third-party information and reviews, but it’s likely that the bulk of your investment will focus on streamlining your on-site search experience to provide answers and drive more conversions.
Remember: your listings and your website are both powerful parts of your online presence, and they matter when it comes to both driving discovery and creating a great customer experience. Ready to get started? Click here to learn more.
*Yext research, 2019