Today’s topic is all about getting your local citations and map listings ready for the opening of a new business. This is the continuation of our multi-part series of marketing business from scratch. And in this particular case, we’re using a childcare center as a business from scratch. 

Now, you’re still, let’s call it six months out from opening, all the stuff that we’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks through these different episodes has been more of the fundamentals. Let us summarize what we have discussed so far:

  • Tracking and monitoring your efforts
  • Writing content for the new website
  • Putting together your month by month opening plan
  • Getting some branding done building your story
  • Picking a business name
  • Choosing your persona

I believe it’s been two weeks or just over two weeks, like 15 different steps in 15 different episodes. But now we’re getting more into the content of how do you then start to really drive those eyeballs. How do you start to get the attention? How do we generate leads of parents that are interested in potentially enrolling in this new child care center?

One of the first exercises and things that I like to do that isn’t necessarily going to provide an influx of leads initially until you’re actually physically opened and you start to get a little bit more activity on social media where people are talking about your location. However, this is one of those tactics that is definitely needed. 

Your local citations should include map listings and various listings that include the following:

  • Where your business is located
  • What times you’re open
  • Link(s) to your website
  • Products descriptions or services offerings

And one of the things that you definitely want to do before a new center is open is you want to make sure you get out there and start to claim all of your map listings. Google Map listing is the one that is the most commonly claimed and you can claim that by going to Google. Just type in Google My Business and it will then allow you to request a postcard verification. So you have to make sure that you have some kind of mailbox or some kind of way for that postcard to get delivered. 

Now, if you were building a center from scratch, you’ve got to make sure that you’re working with the town or the city. It is important so that they know that it’s a recognized address and all of that stuff because I will tell you that time and time again, I have seen this whole fiasco of a new center opening up and families going to Google, typing in the name of the center and they cannot find any information. That usually ends up being because the center didn’t think about doing the listings or they just had an issue of actually getting those postcards sent out. Usually, if it’s a brand new location or if you bought some land or something like that, and it wasn’t fully recognizable just yet in terms of like they weren’t delivering to that area. There’s a lot of variables, but you want to go through and start to claim these different listings. 

Personally, I like to do them manually, and Google my Business listing is the first one. But then, if you start to think about it, think about all the other places that you can go and start to set-up these listings—the technical phrase is a citation. 

You can go to Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook listing, and your social media pages. And you want to make sure that all of these are consistent. Because if they’re not consistent, what’s going to end up happening is that if one of the kind of gets out of whack. Maybe one of your listings says you’re open at 9 am and the other listing says you’re open at 6 am to start taking families. Then all of a sudden, everything is updated to 9 am because the different citations think that 9 am was right, but it’s really 6 am. It really ends up becoming a nightmare. You definitely want to make sure that you have all of that consistency. 

A couple of other ones—Instagram, Foursquare, Waze, or MapQuest. Apple and AOL have map listings. There’s also Around Me—there are about 150 other ones that I guess could be considered top tier. Now the good news is there are software tools that you can use. Yext.com is one of the tools that we’ve used in the past and depending on different factors, I mean, the monthly investment isn’t overly steep. That will allow you to basically put all of your details in once and then it will populate all of that data out to all of the different relevant citations. Now, the other piece of this equation is that this is definitely a good strategy for search engine optimization. So not only do I want to make sure that you’re ranking well in the map listings for your different targets across different locations, essentially. 

However, if there are particular citations, like parent websites in Buffalo, New York. So if I was opening up a center in Buffalo, New York, do I want to get a listing on buffalo.com or buffalomoms.com so you can start to look at that. Are there other tertiary websites that offer citations—so kind of like the Chamber of Commerce, they offer a citation on the chamberofcommerce.com. So as you start to look at these, you want to look and see, are there other places that are industry-related back to you. 

So if I was opening up a childcare center, I would want to make sure that I’m not putting a listing on ubereats.com or allergyeats.com, or TripAdvisor. Why would you try and get a citation on one of those? That’s going to only confuse the search engines and continue to confuse the people that are actually going to be looking at enrolling in your center. 

In summary:

Step one—you want to make sure you focus on the Google listing first and make sure you get that postcard request and then go through the verification that will provide a number for you that you go to and essentially verify that yes that you are that particular business. 

Step two—my suggestion is to at the very least go in and start setting up the main ones on those top tier sites, again like Foursquare, Instagram, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Yelp, and/or look at leveraging a software tool like yext.com which will help you out. 

Step three—start claiming the different citations that are more local and specific to your area. What this will do is it’ll give you ample time to get on these websites because some of these take a couple of months for you to get listed. So it’ll give you plenty of time to get listed—start to gain some clout in the search engines. And by the time you get closer to opening, you’ll have some really good rankings. 

Get out there, make a change, and take some action.