Correct business listing information is important for SEO

As a business owner, you should have the ability to control your local business listing information on the Internet. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. And, it’s not your fault. The Internet is littered with a glut of business directories and data aggregators.

You could just ignore them, and hope they go away. But for better or worse, business directories are in abundance on the web, and business owners are forced to manage the information.

Business owner with head in the sand

For better or worse, business directories are in abundance on the web, and business owners are forced to manage the information. They can’t be ignored!

But why? Well, business directories and your web site’s NAP (name, address, phone number) influence your web site’s organic search results, according to MOZ.com’s Top 50 Localized Organic Factors.

The bottom line…Consistent and correct business listing information and web site NAP will enhance your website search engine optimization (SEO). And a well-managed SEO campaign will bring more exposure to your business online.

 

At best, claiming and correcting is a mess!

As Sprout Digital’s SEO Specialist, I make researched and educated attempts to affect our client’s web site SEO in a positive way. Therefore, I know the value of claimed and corrected business listings and consistent web site NAP.

But, there’s a quagmire I tromped into when I attempted to claim and correct business listings on my own. What I encountered was time consuming and frustrating. The results were poor at best. Here’s my claiming adventure…

 

Where it all started

Getlisted.org (MOZ Local) is a free online source where anyone can check his or her business listing info. It allows you to check the top 5 main data aggregators: Infogroup, Neustar-Localeze, Acxiom, Factual and Foursquare. And, it allows you to check many widely used and recognized business-listing directories.

Using Getlisted.org as a starting point, I began what I thought would be an easy task–claim a client’s business listings on my own. I had the client’s approval. The client allowed me to work out of their business location. Reason being, some business listings require an incoming or outgoing phone correspondence from the businesses’ physical location.

 

Pin on a map

You’ve got to pin down your local business listing information. It’s beneficial to business!

Plan and prepare

In preparation for my on-site work trip, I created usernames and passwords for the 15 different business listing/data aggregate accounts. As soon as I arrived at the client’s office, I could simply claim each business listing and input the correct business NAP and any additional fields of business-related information.

If a listing required a phone call, I had the ability to field the call. If there were follow up instructions, I could easily communicate this with a staff member.

 

Easy becomes nearly impossible

Most of the business-listing web sites made it easy to establish usernames and passwords. But, when it was time for rubber to hit road, so to speak, the wheels on my claiming car went flat…

My business listing claiming conundrum hopefully demonstrates the frustration and confusion you can expect to encounter when you set out to claim them on your own. After following my adventure, you’ll understand why Sprout Digital recommends Visibility Management.

I’ve broken my experience down into three categories:

  • Easy Peezy
  • Uh…maybe?
  • You want how much!?

 

Easy Peezy

Google

Google My Business (or whatever they’re calling it these days) puts your business on the proverbial web map. Just create a Google account and follow the steps for launching your Google My Business Page. This is your starting point and template for all the other business-listings or data aggregators you are going (or attempting) to claim.

 

Facebook

If you haven’t already, you will need to create a Facebook Business Page. Be sure to enter your business NAP and include your web site URL.

Unfortunately, you can’t hide your business address on Facebook. You can suppress the map that displays your business location. But, if you want to reap the benefits of Facebook, you’ll have to post a physical address.

 

Superpages, DexMedia, SuperDexSomething?

Superpages is kinda user friendly. There are several somewhat confusing follow up emails. And to be honest, I don’t what the difference is between Superpages, DexMedia, DexKnows, SuperDexKnow, whatever! But, with patience, you can claim your basic business profile (NAP) and move on–everything else they offer costs money!

 

Bing

Ah Bing, some people prefer to “Bing it” instead of “Google it.” According to Statista, Google currently handles 65% percent of all search queries. But, you should create your Bing business profile to keep your online visibility consistent–at least for SEO sake.

After creating your business profile on Bing, you will need to add their analytics tracking code to your web site–similar to Google. And like Google, they will send a postcard to your business confirming your listing.

 

Hotfrog

Hot what? Yes Hotfrog is a business directory that is important, I guess. Their aim is to help get your business listed in Google results. Well that’s fine and dandy–sign me up! Their FREE sign up process will save you time. You can sign up for this in under 5 minutes and maybe…people will start leapfrogging into your business.

 

Uh…Maybe?

Local Search Ecosystem

You can get lost in the local search ecosystem.

The “Uh…Maybe?” category is just that. Maybe you will have greater success than I had. But on my own, I wasn’t confident that I had claimed and corrected these directories. Here’s what I discovered…

 

Foursquare

Foursquare has become a data aggregator. Therefore, its influence and outreach over the web is HUGE. Foursquare’s outstanding Internet outreach has been estimated at 80-100 million including Instagram and Pinterest.

But how do you sign up? Visit Foursquare.com and follow the “Ready to claim your listing” link and follow the directions. You should receive a postcard, like Google and Bing, with a PIN number.

However, I’ve been waiting patiently for over 3 weeks–no postcard. If Foursquare follows through with the postcard, then Foursquare will move to my Eazy Peazy category.

 

Yelp

Based on my experience, Yelp isn’t eazy peazy to claim. Someone has to write a Yelp review that Yelp considers “legitimate,” from Yelp’s point-of-view–whatever that is.

Yes it’s easy to put your business on the Yelp map. But, someone does needs to place a review about your business. Then, you should find your business is “claimable”. Have fun keeping track of that.

 

YP

Oh wonderful, it’s an online phonebook; remember those books with the yellow pages in them? Well here’s the deal. It appears that YP will upload whatever business info they can scrape together (a technique called web scraping) to their ginormous database about your business. What I’ve encountered is a lot of misinformation about local businesses.

But, if you pay them to correct the information, that they’ve been kind enough to screw up on their web site, you’re all good. If you’re lucky, and your business phone number is correct, you may claim a basic business listing for free. YP will follow up with several phone calls to upsell you their online services–under contract of course!

 

Angry man with laptop

Claiming and correcting business listings is frustrating and time consuming.

Factual

Factual apparently is another one of the major database aggregators that shouldn’t be neglected. They have a very friendly form you can fill out to claim your business. Then…you wait. Once again, I’ve waited for over 3 weeks with no follow up. Their FAQ states that listings can take over 6 weeks to post. If this is so, then Factual goes to my Eazy Peazy list.

 

Yahoo

Honestly, Yahoo is going through changes and I’m not sure a business can technically “claim” a Yahoo listing. But, they do have an upsell to correct business listings called Yext.

Yext, Yahoo, YIKES! In the past, Yahoo was a friendly search engine, email platform, nifty news site, and it was easy to register a web site and correct business listing information. But now, uh…confusing?

 

Infogroup

Again, Infogroup is another major data aggregator. I’ve tried submitting business info to this behemoth, but I never received any email with info about following up. If anyone knows the secret word or special password to join this database hub club, please share your secrets.

 

Acxiom

What a cool name. It’s possible to get your business listed with this data aggregator–but plan and prepare for this. You will need to confirm your listing via phone. Then, you will need to follow up with a proof-of-doing-business-document (e.g. phone bill, garbage bill, etc.). And maybe…uh…maybe you can enter this sanctum of business directory citations.

 

City Search

Yet another allusive business listing directory that apparently is important for local search. But after searching for City Search, I discovered that they are notorious for moving their “claiming” link to different locations on their web site. After several searches online for help, I came up with nothing–frustrating.

 

You Want How Much!?

Best of the Web

Well at least they’re up front and honest about it. To appear on the Best of the Web you’ll have to dig deep in your pockets and fork out at least $149. But, they do offer a FREE 60 day trial–for whatever that’s worth.

 

Localeze (neustar/Localeze)

Localeze is the self-proclaimed “leader in local search.” Well the leader also leads the pack of business directories/data aggregators in price. To pay for the supposed best, you’ll have to drop at least $24.75 a month.

 

What’s a business owner to do?

So, I’ve been a bit “snarky” in regards to claiming the aforementioned groups of business directory/database aggregators. But, is the glut of business directories that exist on the web necessary? Well…you be the judge of that.

Serenity now! Serenity now! Serenity now!

Serenity now! Serenity now! Serenity now!

But, as a business owner, you’ve got to acknowledge they exist. And, you should find a prudent and cost effective way to appease the beast. At the same time, the solution should benefit your web site SEO. Remember, consistent and correct business listing information creates positive SEO affects.

The most cost effective solution available for small businesses is Visibility Management (also referred to as Online Business Directory Management). There are many services available that can help harness the business directory beast. But, before you choose a Visibility Management service be sure they offer the following:

  • A single point-of-contact such as an account or sales representative (a human being!).
  • The ability to demonstrate measurable results such as weekly or monthly reports.
  • Citation management including volume, accuracy, consistency, authority, and velocity; all of which are considered top-level SEO factors.
  • Review notifications that tell you what people are saying about your business via review web sites, social media, etc.
  • Mentions monitoring that shows you where and when your business is being mentioned on the web such as news sites, blogs, rich media sites, and social networks.
  • Social reports that will help you monitor and maintain your business’s social media presence.
  • Competition reports that make comparisons between your business and your competitors based on specific phrases searched–how you measure up among your competition!

As an SEO Specialist, I understand why it’s paramount for a local small business to have correct and consistent business listing information. Correct and consistent business listings create positive SEO affects. Positive SEO affects benefit your business web site’s search ranking. Moreover, it demonstrates to both the search engines and your customers you care about your reputation online.

Sprout Digital does offer comprehensive Online Business Reputation Management. It’s a prudent and cost-effective online business reputation management program. We recommend the service to our clients to efficiently and effectively correct their business directory quagmires.

It will help your businesses reputation online and influence your web site SEO in a positive way. We offer this service so you can do what you do best–run your business successfully!

Would you like a FREE review of your online business directory visibility, web site, and SEO? Contact us today!

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