The business listing landscape is noisier than ever today because of the multitude of local business content available online via search, social, and mobile channels. In addition, consumer local search activity is skyrocketing. In fact, recent studies show that nearly 20% of searches are local (also reported by Google), and 40-50% of mobile searches are local, according to Google and Microsoft.

With the added pressure to increase visibility online, business owners are being tempted in a variety of ways to boost their local search presence via advertising vehicles that can water down their core anchor identities—i.e., their business listings. In some cases, advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities can tamper with a business's online identity, unbeknownst to the business owner.

What is an anchor identity?

A business's anchor identity is its online local search business listing, primarily consisting of its name, address, and phone number—its NAP information. Think of your anchor identity as your digital storefront or the glue that holds your online reputation together and ensures that customers can find you online when they want to call or visit your business to make a purchase.

Why are business listings important?

Business listings maintain the consistency of information about your business on the Web, breaking through the noise of online advertising, reviews, social media check-ins, and so on. Also, the majority of the local search engines crawl listings to determine relevance and ranking.

Since online business listings are the starting point for consumer buying research, business owners need to closely monitor the accuracy and consistency of their NAP information.

Listings are sometimes created with or without a business owner's knowledge by sites that pull advertising details from a variety of sources that do not always include correct NAP details. Business owners therefore need to take control of their listings now.

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Gib Olander is vice-president of marketing development at Localeze, a leader in the local search industry and a provider of business listings identity management.