As a digital marketing agency that specializes in small and local business, this might be one of the most simple, yet important topics we cover. It can also be one of the most frustrating. We see some companies spend large amounts of money on many forms of marketing that sometimes have a less than desireable return on investment. They sometimes fail to logically spend their marketing time and money. The number one way people find local businesses today is through online searches. Whether it’s Google, Bing, Yelp, or one of several other means, that’s where more and more of the majority are looking for local products and services. That’s not an opinion. It’s fact, and has been proven by multiple surveys and studies.
So if this is the #1 way your target market is looking for you, why don’t you put your money where the money is? Here’s a good question to demonstrate what I’m talking about. How many of you can say with 100% certainty that your business listing is 100% accurate, complete, and up to date on all the major online business directories? If your answer is anything but an unwavering “Yes”, then you are losing potential business daily. That’s the bottom line.
To fully understand why this is such a big deal, you need to understand how local listings work. The top places that people search for local businesses – Google, Bing, Apple Maps, Yahoo, and Yelp – often will look at each other’s and all of the other business directories they can get their hands on to see how accurate a company’s information is across the board. They understand that people use them because they trust the information they get in the search results will be correct and useful. If that stops being the case, people stop using them. So these directories/search engines do all they can to verify that the contact info, website url, hours of operation, and other information of every business. If your information is inconsistent or even incomplete in various directories, then your business won’t be trusted as much as others and will be buried down further in the search results. Now there are other factors involved with where you show up in the local search results, but this is the biggest one.
Even if people do find you when your information is incorrect or incomplete, this drastically lowers the likelihood that they will actually become your customer. If they want to call to verify that you have what they need, but your phone number isn’t there or is wrong or an old number, you lost that business. If they want to make sure you’ll be open when they get there, but your business hours aren’t posted, they’re moving on to the next listing. And if the same person doing another search sees your business in the results again, they’re not likely to click on you due to their previous experience of a lack of wanted information. This can hurt your click through rates, and other human interactions with your listing that Google and the other search engines track as part of their algorithm. This would in turn also potentially lower you in the results. Can you see the ripple effect here?
So what we’re trying to get at here is that incomplete and incorrect business listing information has multiple negative effects with both human interaction and the search engines/directories. There has been a lot published on how to correct this issue, and we will write more on it in the near future. If you’d like some help with this check out our listings management service that starts at only $95/month.