During a recent visit to the Fort Matanzas National Monument, I was amazed by the historic significance of the little outpost. It also stands as a good reminder for local businesses to shore up their online outposts.

Just 14 miles south of St. Augustine and the larger Castillo de San Marcos, this little Spanish fortress with a force of 7 men and 5 cannons protected the city and its citizens.

The fort’s presence alone deterred invaders from using the ocean inlet where the Matanzas River flows into the Atlantic. With only one brief encounter with a British invading force, the outpost proved its worth for decades.

Building and manning this little outpost was a brilliant military strategy.

Online outposts serve an equally vital function for local businesses who want to be found online by local buyers. And it’s a smart business strategy to make sure these outposts are fully manned with consistent and accurate information about your organization.

What are Online Outposts and Why are They Important to Local Businesses?

Online outposts are business listings sprinkled throughout the internet that share information about your business.

Examples of online business listings include:

  • Search Engine business pages: Google, Bing, Yahoo
  • Directories: Yelp, Merchant Circle, YP.com
  • Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
  • Data Aggregators: Infogroup, Neustar, Localeze, Acxiom
  • Industry-Based Directories: Lawyer.com, Zillow.com

Actually, business listing sites can be extensive. And the importance of some may outweigh others depending on location and business type.

However, search engines place immense importance on the information found on these sites regarding your business. And that importance can influence your search rankings.

We can help guide you in making sure you’re listed on the best directories for your business.

Information Search Engines Seek Out on Online Outposts

Search engines use these business listings as a way to verify that your business is real and in good standing. Consistency of your business information is key to better local ranking.

When you claim each business listing, make sure you’re consistent in the following information about your business:

  • Business name: Use your proper business name
  • Address: Physical address consistent with the U.S. Post Office (no PO or UPS Boxes)
  • Phone number: Published local number (not a tracking or toll free)
  • Category: Correct primary category for your business

Besides the above data, it’s good practice to fully fill out your profile on the business listings. That can include a description of your business along with photos and videos.

Basically, treat online business listings like you would on your own website. The value is not just for better search engine ranking. Many times, local buyers will land on these pages, find the information they are seeking and make a decision to call or visit you based on what they see.

That makes these business listings crucial outposts in your search for customers. So make sure you’ve secured them.