This post is part of a series celebrating National Small Business Week, June 17-21.

Years ago, local discovery was simple.  Everyone used the same printed yellow pages book to find local businesses. Nowadays, however, potential customers consult hundreds of different online directories, mobile apps, social networks and review sites to find local businesses.  Quite simply, local search is incredibly fragmented.

What does this mean for you as a business owner?  You need to make sure that your business is listed accurately in all these different places.  If your information is incorrect or missing, potential customers won’t find you and will move on to a competitor. And that’s not good for your business.

Here is a checklist, brought to you by our friends at Yext, which outlines the necessary steps to make sure that customers are finding your business in local search.

  1. Get listed everywhere – Customers use an average of five sources when researching purchases, so you need to get listed everywhere they are looking.  An easy way to get started is to understand your presence on top sites like Yahoo!,, MapQuest and Facebook– but it doesn’t end there.  You also need to understand how you appear on mobile apps, maps and navigation services.  Since local search is incredibly fragmented, you need to make sure that customers can find you at every point of local discovery.
  2. Correct your digital location information – If your location information isn’t correct, your customers won’t be able to find you.  So make sure the basics, like your business address and phone number, are right.  Don’t make it hard for the customer to find you.
  3. Complete your business listings – Make sure you are giving the customers the information they want and need.  Customers need to know when they can come to your store and what to expect.  You can provide this by adding hours of operation, search categories, a business website and a business description to your listings.
  4. Share deep local content – Provide customers with the reasons why they should choose you over the competition.  Add product and services lists, menus, bios for your staff, and calendars of upcoming events.  Make sure that you are differentiating yourself from your competition at the point of online local discovery.
  5. Keep your location information fresh – Quite simply, your customers are interested in new content, so make sure you update your location information at least once a month.  Change your featured message every month or add new business and photos – the more you engage your customers with new content, the more interest they will have in your products.
  6. Track and optimize your listings’ performance – Like with any part of business, you need to monitor what your customers respond to and give them more of it.  You can figure out what type of content your customers respond to by monitoring profile views, tracking featured message clicks and keeping an eye on reviews.

yextThis post was written by Tyler Donahue at Yext, a tech company that syncs business listings information across 50+ sites like Yahoo!, Yelp, Facebook and Bing.  Find out how you’re listed across the internet with a free listings report from Yext!