Any good local search engine optimization strategy should begin with directory syndication and search engine listing management. Digital directories are the yellow pages of the modern era. They are an easy place for consumers to look up information about businesses with an easy to use interface. Being listed in one directory is not enough, however. Businesses need to have a strategy to succeed in local SEO because search engines use directory listings as one of the many factors that go into their local search rankings.

When focusing on directory registration, the following best practices are recommended to create the best local SEO results.

Keep details consistent.

A lack of consistency between directory listings is one of the easiest local SEO pitfalls to avoid. Search engines notice small differences in phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation and other information. Be careful to make sure each listing is exactly the same as the next, down to the use of address abbreviations. For example, to search engines “street” and “st.” are not the same and should not be used interchangeably.

Use consistent phone numbers.

Search engines penalize businesses when the same phone number is used for multiple businesses or locations. So, providers should attempt to have a unique contact number for each location and, if that isn’t possible, only list phone numbers that are not shared.

Claim search engine listings.

Each of the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo!) have their own unique business listings. As the most popular search engine, Google should be the place where professionals and businesses should begin claiming their listings. Bing and Yahoo!, when combined, also have a large audience of potential power to drive conversions.

Complete profiles.

For search engine listings, a complete profile that includes pictures, hours of operation, and links to social media profiles is essential. Professionals and businesses with complete profiles have an advantage in local search over those who don’t fill out all of the fields.

Businesses and professionals have a tremendous opportunity to leverage local SEO to increase digital visibility, put themselves in front of potential clients and increase revenues. Without proper placement inside search engine listings and in online directories, prospective customers are less likely to find the resources they want.

Search engines such as Google strive to give searchers the most relevant results possible, meaning that when they search for a company or specific type of provider, they emphasize local results. Because searchers are most likely to click on the first three organic results compared to the rest of the organic results combined, creating a local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy aimed at improving the rankings in these local search results is of the utmost importance for businesses looking to attract new clients.