Evil Bill and the Case of the Stolen Business Identity
A Cautionary Tale About the Importance of Accurate Local Listings
All one needs to do is look at the story my manager recently told me about his landscaper to understand the importance of accurate local listings. Everyone knows that businesses and, in particular, small businesses can be dog-eat-dog but this story is more Machiavellian than you could even imagine. For the sake of the story, let’s call my manager’s landscaper Joe and his former business partner Bill. Bill decided to go off on his own to start his own landscaping outfit, and that was all well and good until Joe realized that Bill had hijacked his online listing. Because Joe hadn’t claimed his own business using the Google My Business service, it was essentially up for grabs for someone like Bill. Evil Bill (as we shall now refer to him) even went so far as to put his phone number in the listing so anyone trying to reach Joe for landscaping was calling Bill. My manager was able to rectify the situation for Joe and Evil Bill will surely get his thanks to karma. All of this could have been easily prevented but so many small business owners pay no heed to the value of having accurate information online. Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of cleaning up your local listings.
It’s Nacho Charge
Get it – not yo charge? Getting an accurate online NAP is free. NAP stands for your business’s name, address, and phone number, and it’s completely free of charge to set this up via Google My Business. Of course, as with most things, you can spend money to enhance your profile to improve your SEO rankings. You can also keep your competitors off your page and prevent the pop-up ads designed to steal your business. Paying for improved SEO rankings is never a bad decision, per se, but you can improve your own rankings. It just takes time. Whether you decide to pay to improve your search rankings or not, an accurate local search listing is a must, as over 90 percent of consumers use search engines to shop locally. And these are motivated shoppers, too, as they will often go and buy the searched product that very day.
More is More
Not only do you want to make sure your information is 100 percent accurate, but you also should get on every relevant local listing directory that you can. Your brand will expand with your presence on local listing directories as will your potential to be found during online searches.
Google is Savage
If there is one thing we know about Google it’s that they are ruthless in the way they go about doling out online rankings, and rightfully so. Their reputation depends on it and, as such, so should yours. Imagine you use Google for directions to a local business, only to find out that said business is closed. You’d be annoyed, right? If this happens to you again, you might be tempted to stop using Google altogether, and no one is more aware of this fact than Google. What this means for your company is that you earn Google’s trust and, thus, better rankings the more you provide them with current and accurate information.
Find the Problem and Fix It
What you might not realize as a harried small business owner is that there are a lot of local listing sites, unfortunately providing plenty of room for error. It could be as subtle as a phone number format SNAFU or a missing suite number but this is all it takes for the inaccuracy to cause issues. And it could be in any of the following places:
- Review sites such as Insider Pages and Citysearch
- A restaurant review about your business
- Phonebooks (yes, they still exist!)
- Phone directories
- Business directories
- Government websites
- News sites
It’s a lot like having bad credit. You need to locate the issues, fix them, and work with a primary data provider to get the correct information online for you.
Want to keep your eye on the ball and leave the accuracy of your local listings to us? Good call. We’ll ensure that all of your local listing information is correct, including your hours of operation, phone numbers, addresses, logos, and photos of your business. It might not sound like much but your business can only thrive if people can find you … and if you can keep the Evil Bills at bay. Contact us today to learn more.