So what's the deal with business listings!? Today we tackle that big and important topic & the many ways to ensure it's all accurate, all the time. Enter Business Listing Providers. The hurdles to optimizing these listings are a-plenty: your info changes, new websites pop up that might be better for mobile search or industry specific sites, and then there is the issue of information being created BY search engines or a provider that houses your listings without your 'permission' per se. We all want our business listings to be accurate and relevant and to be searchable to your future and current customers. So what do you do if you are thinking of hiring someone to manage your listings? There is a lot to consider, so read on Business Savvy friend!
Not surprisingly there are a lot of companies out there claiming to provide you the best business listing services. They exist to enhance your current marketing strategy. A lot of providers use data aggregators like Yext and make real quick money doing so, which you can find out more about here!
There’s a chance you’re going to encounter some smoke and mirrors when it comes to business listing optimization providers and their claims to keep your online listings legit. And it’s understandable why so many would seek out these services in the long run. When it comes to your online listings accuracy is so important for dozens of reasons; making sure customers can contact you, find your locations, and keep up with the updates + new sites and forums like mobile or voice search where business data can be found. That’s why it’s crucial to be equipped with the facts before you dive in to your business listings!
Here: the Top 12 Factors to take into consideration when it comes to your business’ online listings, choosing a business listing provider as well as what you can do to make sure your listings are in tip top shape.
#1 SOCIAL PROFILES
Believe it or not, social profiles pull a lot of weight and they need to be cared for in the same way your business listings do. Facebook is something that can’t be ignored! It ranks in the Top 3 most visited sites and is not just for liking baby pics anymore, it’s for business. A recent study shows 74% of consumers cited relying on social media to make purchasing decisions.
What you can do: Make sure the Name, Address, Phone Number, Website and hours of operation match what is on your website and other listings. Often times we find a lot of discrepancies because Facebook and other social sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn are something vendors ignore. On that note we’ve got to mention something that can bite a business where it counts: Facebook Unofficial pages. Facebook Unofficial pages need to be claimed and cleaned up asap which this Infographic shows you JUST how to do.
#2 MOBILE STRATEGY
Mobile just CAN NOT BE ignored, especially for businesses that have a physical location. We believe in implementing a mobile strategy that includes Apple Maps, GPS sites and listing sites that show under specific keywords on Google, Safari, Firefox etc. How do you find what these sites are? Just pull out your phone, do a search for your company and top keywords. You will see them all there!
What you can do next: If you have a Yelp listing, your business information will feed into Apple Maps which is a great start for mobile clarity. The info doesn’t always transfer correctly, so we recommend you manually claim in Apple Maps. It’s an easy process that just requires a phone verification.
Ah, one of our favorite subjects here at WebPunch! We have seen plenty of reports from competitors that show a super sexy dashboard highlighting all the things that are wrong with a business or brand’s business listings. We do the same thing in a way with our customers. We'll point out listings that are struggling because it very plainly shows how a current provider is not performing to their potential.
But just how accurate are they? Something to consider with these data reports:Look at the below screen shot. This is an example of a client that we loaded to all the major data aggregators (we use Moz Local to do this). Check out the overall stat on the top right that lists accuracy at 64%. That leaves a lot of work to be done.
Now let’s take a closer look at a second view of the same type of data. The second view is when you go to Moz Local to check a listing. This is a free tool they offer on their site. We entered in the same zip code and business name and something very interesting happens...
See how the accuracy of the listings shows at 50%? Keep in mind the same listing on our Moz Local dashboard - from above - shows at 64%. Which view would we to show a perspective client? The one with a 50% listing score because it means there is even more work to do than we previously thought, and WebPunch can help!
But wait there’s more. The red icon on the graph above shows inconsistencies on certain pages. What is interesting is that when we put a real live human on the task and actually check the listing the sites that this chart points out in detail (not shown) everything looks perfect. What in the...?
So, do we think Moz is scamming the system? Not at all. We are just trying to demonstrate that reporting on accuracy of the listings themselves unless checking manually with a human eye is not so accurate. There are a lot of pieces of data at play and it’s hard to know if they’ll ever be at 100%. Keep that in mind when considering your vendor.
#4 BIG "DATA AGGREGATOR LISTING" SITES
If a provider states that they are going to add your business to over 200 listing sites, they are most likely using a data aggregator. Depending on your goals, this might not be a bad thing. Just be aware of what the service actually is and what you are paying for. We have seen all kinds of pricing structures around this kind of service.
What you can do: Be wary that when you add your business listing to data aggregators, making changes to these listings and fully optimizing them is nearly impossible. It might be less expensive to go to the data aggregators directly than have a vendor upload for you. To do this you'd go to Moz local and load all the data aggregators from there.
If a provider states that they are going to load your business to 50 review sites then this is a good hint that they are likely loading your business to Yext. Yext might be just what you need to manage your listings, just know that some providers white label the solution. Depending on what they are charging you for maintenance of these listings on Yext, it might be less expensive to go to Yext directly just like we recommend above with Moz. Your call.
What you can do: If a provider says “50 listings,” you are getting Yext as your listing provider. And remember that with Yext and the data aggregators, you pay to play and that when you stop paying for your services, your listings will most likely go away too (sometimes they stick if you have a review on them but no guarantees). We've seen vendors offer the initial work but not follow through in managing your listings on an ongoing basis. Is that worth your business dollars?
#6 HUMANS VS. MACHINE
We love technology here at WebPunch but there are times when nothing can replicate good old fashioned man power. We fully believe in checking listings manually with a human eye and in fact use that as our number one way of optimizing a clients' online business listings. If accuracy is what you are looking for, it’s one of the ways to catch everything - including those pesky duplicates.
What you can do: The bottom line is, you will never get the best accuracy without a manual check of your sites all across the web. Do the listings have to be looked at every month? Most often not. It depends on how many listings you are managing by the human eye vs. aggregated information. We get why business listing providers don’t manually check listings--- it takes a lot of work! But in the long run there’s a chance it’ll cost you even more time and lost business.
#7 USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS
Is your listing provider someone that will provide you with a solution to respond to reviews and gives you the username/passwords to your listings to do so? Good! It’s super important to have that access and control. If not, does their solution allow you to respond to reviews?
What you can do: We can’t say enough on the subject of being able to take ownership and respond to reviews! Make sure that no matter what provider or method you go with you are fully able to access and respond to your online reviews.
Large franchise brands take note! Our understanding when using a solution like Yext that does allow for you to respond to reviews from their dashboard: it’s not a functionality that can be passed along to individual locations so be willing to respond to all your locations reviews in-house
#8 HIDDEN ADDRESSES
If you work out of your house, most likely you will want your address hidden on Google, Yelp etc. But just like Lindsey Lohan’s mug shot - it will never truly be hidden or go away. It’s the internet people! Since you own a business, you have to register with the Secretary of State. MerchantCircle, Insiderpages, Manta and Citysearch all aggregate information from the Secretary of State.
What you can do: It’s a myth that your business address can be hidden for good; so don’t believe it when a provider says that you are. Keep in mind that sometimes these sites can aggregate into other sites as they often time share information with each other.
#9 ACCURACY OF BUSINESS DETAILS
Sometimes a site is limiting as to the way that they list specific details. What does this mean? Google might not allow us to put the word “Suite” in the address and will require us (or will change) the “Suite” to a “#.” Superpages doesn’t allow for apostrophe’s in their business descriptions (this one drives us crazy). Often times Yelp will drop the location out of the business name (ex: Alchemy business of Canton). Why? It’s not clear and we have heard several explanations which all conflict with each other.
What you can do: Don't worry too much about 100% perfect business details. The limitations of certain sites make the dream of 100% accuracy impossible. A provider vying for your business might point this out as a reason to ditch your current provider but it's a moot point since it won’t affect your rankings. Google is smart. They know how to spot address nuances as the same thing and will not affect your local market rankings.
#10 LISTINGS SHOWING AN OLD BUSINESS ADDRESS
AKA the listing that wouldn’t go away.... If you’ve ever updated your business address, most likely your old business address is looming somewhere on an obscure listing site. Why? These sites all share information with each other as demonstrated here. A site will “think” your old address is the accurate address and will override your new business address. No matter how many times you tell it not to!
What you can do: Sometimes using the data aggregators will take care of the old address issue but often find manually claiming these sites and working with the site directly (if you can) is the way to go.
#11 DUPLICATE LISTINGS
Ah, the joy of duplicate listings. Here is another potentially tricky scenario. Duplicate listings do not hurt ranking as long as all the business details are correct, but they can confuse customers. They might have been created by the listing site themselves (remember search engines or listing sites aggregate data from other sites) or the data aggregators.
What you can do: More often than not it takes a human eye to detect a duplicate. Our goal at WebPunch is to report and fix all duplicate listings. Plus, it is a lot easier for our team to manage one listing vs. two on a site. Keep in mind, once a duplicate has been removed it can come back. …Fun stuff but finding these guys for our clients is kinda what we live for!
#12 INDUSTRY SPECIFIC SITES
We think it is important to have the ability to have business listings on industry specific sites. If you are a real estate agent, we think it is important to have accurate listings on Zillow, Trulia and Redfin and the like. We’ve all been to a Zillow listing that is clearly wrong (i.e. a San Francisco mansion going for $750?!) and it’s all because of old or inaccurate data.
What you can do: The climate of industry specific sites is always changing, and new forums and URLs are popping up all the time! To be as close to accurate as possible means you need a plan. What sites do your potential clients actually visit? What sites are relevant to you? Then find out if your business listing provider works with those sites vital to your business, or personally keep tabs on where your info is on a site by site basis.
So, what is the Ultimate Goal of Business Listing Optimization?
Answer: to be found in relevant searches. It’s not about being on a ton of sites that never come up or matter, it’s about REAL people searching and finding you because you are the best fit for their problem. If a Business Listing Optimization service is just splattering listings across the Internet then they aren't 'optimizing' at all! Providers that just want to make a buck and don't do the diligent (and ongoing) work aren’t worth your time or dollars.