Have you ever searched for a nearby restaurant, driven to the location provided by Google search results, and ended up in an empty parking lot with an angry stomach? Whether you were trying to get to a dentist appointment on your lunch break or rushing to date night at a new local bar, everyone has experienced the frustration of inaccurate local listings. You probably called the company in a fit of rage (if the phone number was even correct) and cancelled whatever appointment/reservation you had, only to move on to a nearby competitor. In a digital world where so many options are right at our fingertips, it is more important than ever to provide accurate and timely information to potential customers.

Google Is Committed To Local

Gone are the days of 10 blue listings on the search engine results page. Google’s commitment to local businesses is evident through the constantly changing SERP. Today you can see over 20 different types of results for a given search, including Google’s Local Carousel, Local Knowledge Panel, Local “Pack” Results, “Near” Results, and of course, the Google Map + Pins.

But with these results comes the ever-growing frustration of finding the right business information. Do you check the website? Verify with the Google+ page? Double check the map listing? If your local business listings are incorrect, who will your potential clients blame?

Maintaining Brand Authority Online

A recent study by Placeable found that 73% of people say they lost trust in a brand whose listing showed inaccurate information. Whether potential customers are researching ahead of time or on the go, inaccurate business addresses, phone numbers, business hours and map pins might mean lost revenue for your company.

And if you think people aren’t checking your business listings, you are missing out on a huge pool of potential customers. The study showed that 93 percent of people either checked the location details before they left their home, or while they were driving to the business. That’s 93 percent of your potential customers that you risk losing if you send them to the wrong place, tell them you’re open when you aren’t or mislead them into thinking you provide a product/service that you don’t actually have. In addition, you have a great opportunity to reel in this 93 percent of people who might not have made up their mind until they landed on your listing. Leveraging the power of local listings will ultimately help you turn prospects into customers.

If You’re Going to Create the Listing, Why Not Put it to Good Use?

Deals & Special Offers: More than 60 percent of consumers said they would choose a competitor if they received a special offer during the search process. The more timely and personalized these offers are the more likely consumers are to convert. Utilize your listings in conjunction with online ads to maximize conversions.

Social Media Sharing: Are you writing an engaging blog on your website or maintaining a great Facebook posting schedule? If so, make sure to link these with your Google+ and other listings in order to add another layer of brand recognition for your customers. If they aren’t sure which brand to choose for their purchase, this might just be the final push to sway them in your direction.

Images & Videos: If you have a YouTube channel or image gallery on your website, share these with potential consumers. Not only are videos & images more engaging than text, but they offer a new level of authority to your brand presence.

Reputation Management: Use your listings as a means of communication with customers. For those that provide positive ratings, thank and reward them. For those who have negative things to say, take the conversation offline by reaching out with a promotion or personal apology from the business owner. What’s the point in garnering new customers if you can’t keep the ones you already have?