Consumers rely online business listings more than ever to discover new businesses and patronize them. Multiple studies on the accuracy of online business listings have found inaccuracies ranging from 45-73% of the businesses analyzed. Incorrect information on location, phone numbers, and hours of operation frustrate consumers and drive potential customers to competitors.
In surveys of consumer behavior, nearly half of consumers searched for business addresses and hours of operation online before driving to the store. With so many incorrect listings many small businesses have lost and will continue to lose significant numbers of potential customers due to incorrect listings. A customer who travels to the reported location of a business only to find that it is not there is a customer lost for good.
Business directories understand their own legitimacy as a trusted source for consumers is at risk when the information they provide to customers is incorrect. Free online directories are reliant upon business owners to request corrections for their listings. As part of the Social Life Management platform’s local search management service business are able ensure all of their online listings are up to date and accurate. For business owners to do this themselves would require many hours of work that most small business owners simply do not have to spare.
According to FindUSLocal, a local business directory, “most website owners don’t understand the significance of outdated listings. If a business’ listings are incorrect, or even inconsistent, it will cause their search engine rankings to fall, and it may cause confusion among their potential customers.” Social Life Management’s local search management service covers over 100 sites with local business listings, and ensures their accuracy.
Local review sites such as Yelp for instance can have multiple listing of the same business, often with information on one that doesn’t match with information on the other listing or listings. Multiple listings can be confusing for customers, as well as cost a business potential customers. Multiple listings also have the effect of splitting up customer reviews and ratings onto multiple pages where any less than stellar reviews will have more influence than they should.
· A leading search engine optimization service Moz.com highlighted an addition risk that incorrect listings pose to business owners “Let's start with a quick definition. When a local business has more than one listing for a single physical location in an online directory, these other listings are considered duplicates. A variety of negative outcomes can arise from the presence of duplicate listings, detracting from your local business's ability to rank well and win customers.”
“The Google Local Business Information Quality Guidelines speak in very plain language about the number of listings your business can have”
“Do not create more than one listing for each business location, either in a single account or multiple accounts.”
LocalVox an online marketing firm focused on local marketing for small businesses further highlights issues with online listings which are incorrect.
“Ensuring your name, address and phone are EXACTLY consistent on over 100+ business directories is crucial for your ranking on Google Places (100 million local searches per day). Plus all the website links in listings give you great search engine optimization value.”
· In addition to incorrect phone numbers, addresses, and hours of operation, ten to twenty-five percent of business listings across a number of categories have incorrect website addresses as well. An incorrect website address can make it look like you’ve gone out of business.