The web is great at aggregating large amounts of data and sharing it where it sees most fit. So when consumers search for local solutions to their problems, search engines like Google are more than happy to scour the web for online listings of businesses like yours.

The stats:

50% of local-mobile searchers are looking for business information like a local address.

According to Yext,

  • 2 in 3 business listings contain incorrect info
  • 73% of consumers lose trust in a local biz with incorrect info

Here’s the problem. Just because the information’s out there doesn’t mean it’s correct. What’s worse – just because YOU put the information out there once upon a time, doesn’t mean it’s still a correct business listing. That’s because on average, a business’s info is updated every 6 days online (sooner than once a week)! What’s that mean for you? Incorrect online listings, most likely.

We know, that’s just not fair.

Most common causes of incorrect  online listings:

Duplicate Listings

Duplicate listings are most commonly the result of:

  • A business owner or agency adding multiple listings unintentionally
  • Customers inputting incorrect information via channels such as online reviews

What harm can duplicate listings cause? They can actually do a lot to muck up your squeaky clean online reputation.

To start, it negatively affects your search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines see duplicate information as a form of spam, so they’ll rank your business as less-than-trustworthy. Or, if a duplicate, incorrect listing begins to outrank an accurate one, you’re about to have some very unhappy leads and customers on your hands.

Duplicate listings can also cause consumers to split their reviews among the two (or more) listings. With reviews spread out among these sites, your ratings are likely to drop. And, there may be reviews out there you’re unaware of and therefore haven’t had the opportunity to address.

Missing Information

When your online listings are incomplete, you’re not offering consumers nearly enough information to convert into customers. Name, address and phone number (NAP) are most important when it comes to helping them get in touch with you. Ensuring you’re linking to a website is critical, too.

Without this information, search engines won’t want to recommend you to consumers in the first place, meaning you may not even get the opportunity to compete for their business. (And you’re a competitor, right? “Rocky! Rocky!”)

Outdated Information

When you’re changing something about your business like a phone number, website, hours of operation or even its physical address, adjusting your business listings is probably the last thing on your mind (right behind tipping the movers, turning on the water, and oh yeah, moving all that signage). You’re probably most worried about communicating these changes with current customers, so you don’t lose them!

But failing to update even one outdated listing could have serious consequences. Because of how listings update—feeding information to one another regularly—an outdated listing could actually come back to bite you in the way of replicated outdated listings automatically generating on other sites.

Incorrect Information

For most local business owners, this is the most frustrating issue with business directories—the fact that you can have incorrect online listings out there that aren’t even your fault. OK, some incorrect online listings could be the cause of a fat finger, or even carelessness when jotting down an address too quickly (tsk, tsk). But for most small businesses actively trying to maintain a healthy online presence, incorrect online listings could be popping up without your knowledge or input!

…how? The internet is trying to do you a solid. Remember when we mentioned earlier how good the web is at aggregating data? It’s also good at making assumptions and asking any user (even the wrong ones) to verify information it’s put together. Ever left a restaurant and had a search engine or mobile application ask you if the business’s hours of operation were correct? It happens all the time. Most consumers are innocent enough—they aren’t maliciously trying to add incorrect information to your listings. But they’re being asked to provide additional information, regardless of their level of knowledge or willingness to help. So a quick “yes” or “no” from them could mean incorrect online listings for you.

Finally, How to Fix Online Business Listings That Are Incorrect

Luckily, there are ways to fix it. You’ve basically got two options.

  1. Manually fix each and every listing you can find for your business. You’d do this by searching for your business’s name and clicking through the results one at a time. Then, review each listing and follow the site’s instructions for editing them if necessary. (Here are some more tips for getting started, including our top 3 recommended listing sites.)Pro tip: If a listing site offers you the option to “claim” your listing, do it. Some may charge a fee for this, but if it’s reasonable, it’ll allow you to keep the listing under your control once you’ve got it looking the way you want. This means it’ll be less likely to change going forward without your input.
  2. If that sounds like a lot of work (trust us, it is), you can hire an automated listings management system or service to do the work for you. Hint: We do this for our clients every day. All they have to do is give us one, accurate listing, and we plug it into more than 70 business directories, locking it down once the work is done.

Curious? Click below to learn more.

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