Correct Your business Online Listings!

by: Adam

10 years ago, creating an ad through traditional media involved creating a page in a phone book of one’s municipality. A set fee and a meeting would determine the size of the ad and how many phone numbers you would need to keep your business local. Maintaining this ad would involve paying a big chunk of money every month. If there was a mistake in the ad, such as a phone number discrepancy, then the business that commissioned the ad would have to deal with months or even years of people calling the wrong phone number.

With today’s technological advancements and the rise of the internet, there are many online marketing options. Websites such as Google or Facebook allow both small and medium size businesses the instantaneous ability to update information. It could be an address, a phone number, or a featured ad that one wants to profile. Gone are the days of meeting with ad representatives to discuss what a message could be and determine the ad campaign, and then worrying about the return on investment.

As convenient as today’s marketing services are, the costs can be misleading. For example, one can put a banner ad together on Facebook, link the phone number, and describe the business. However, in order to ensure reaching all potential consumers, a business would have to pay to ‘boost’ the ad or campaign for friends to ‘share’ the ad. So while it may seem that Facebook offers free advertising, really it is just free advertising to start.

On the other hand, Google allows one to optimize a website to reach consumers; new business opportunities for digital agencies include search engine optimization (SEO) and Google AdWord campaigns. Another feature that is offered for free is the ability to register a business online within Google Maps, called Google Business locations. This feature gives business owners data about how many people called, or found the business by using Google Maps, as well as how many views there are for any posted photos.

The results are fantastic, but this feature comes with its own set of complications. However as this feature becomes more and more popular, there are more opportunities for scammers to take advantage of the service. For example, once a business has finished verifying their free registration for Google Maps, they may get a phone call from someone claiming to represent Google. This person will then claim that the business owner has to pay sometimes hundreds of dollars to own and keep the listing online permanently. This is, of course, a hoax. It is important to remember that Google Maps service is currently free. If any scammer calls with information about the company, it is because of a ‘Bot’ program that has stolen information (such as the business’s phone number) from the online listing.

Search engine optimization involves ‘citations’. Citations are where one’s website with all the corresponding information (address, phone number, and business description) is listed on reputable online websites. These websites include Yellow Pages, White Pages, Superpages, Yahoo, and Yelp. Citations help to validate the business and build trust between the business and a potential consumer. Since this may be the consumer’s only access to information about the business, it is very important to ensure that the posted information is accurate and that links are updated and connected to the proper resources found on the business’s website.

If this information is incorrect, it could not only hurt search engine optimization results but also confuse consumers who are trying to locate or reach the business. The resulting turmoil would cost the company valuable time, money and resources, as well as impact potential profits. For example, while the initial posting may be free or reasonably priced, it could cost up to $500 to apply for changes to be made by these listings websites.

Overall, maintaining accurate and relevant website information creates a network of links between businesses and consumers. Companies that can qualify and validate their information online through companies such as Google can help their business grow and reach more people. Ways to maintain this growth include creating spreadsheets to keep track of all websites that have listed one’s company information and name; keeping track of what information is correct, and also following up with any pages that need to correct the data.

The advent of online advertising does not necessarily mean that physical meetings are eliminated. For those who are unsure of how to use these resources, or to even get more information, one can speak to a qualified online digital agency for assistance. Small business owners know that time can be limited; even if the proper information is registered, they will still have to follow up and update the website and any changing business locations. Ultimately, online exposure is critical; customers must know how to find the business, in order to access the business’ services. Being timely in updating one’s online listings will ensure an ongoing connection between the business and any potential consumers.