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Ensuring accurate information online key for small firms

A report by one listings management firm found 80 percent of consumers lose trust when online business information like hours, address or phone number is incorrect.

Make every effort to verify the accuracy of

Make every effort to verify the accuracy of online information, small-business experts say. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/anyaberkut

When consumers search for a business online, they expect the information they find to be accurate.

If key information like hours, addresses or phone numbers are wrong, it has a detrimental effect. According to a report by one listings management firm, 80 percent of consumers lose trust when online business information is incorrect.

 And “with unparalleled access to information online, it’s easy for consumers to find an alternative business to use,” says Myles Anderson, founder and CEO of United Kingdom-based BrightLocal, which provides search engine optimization, reputation management and citation/online listings management for businesses and brands.

 Business data can originate from many sources, including the U.S. Postal Service, business groups, local consumers and data aggregators, and as sites “crawl” each other to find and confirm data, incorrect  information on a prominent site can spread and quickly trickle through to other sites, Anderson says.

BrightLocal’s "Local Citations Trust Report," which surveyed 1,025 U.S.-based consumers on all types of business listings, including directories such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie's List, shows that consumers are most likely to blame the business for incorrect data, and ultimately it’s the business that suffers, Anderson says. 

He finds the most common errors in online business listings stem from incorrect names, addresses and phone numbers.

Most businesses have 20 percent to 40 percent  of their information online inaccurately, says John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, an internet marketing firm in San Diego.

There are services like BrightLocal that will help you track and manage your listings and amend errors. Others also include Uberall, Yext, Moz Local or Rio SEO, says Lincoln, who uses Uberall and Moz to manage his own customers' listings.

He advises businesses to make sure their information is correct on some of the top listing sites like Yelp, Bing Places, Google My Business, Apple Maps and Facebook and then consider employing one of  the local listing services to ensure secondary directories are accurate.

You need to claim your business profile on these listings sites (there is usually an option to do that) or set up a profile if it hasn’t yet been created, Lincoln says.

Keep in mind there are hundreds of business listing sites and online directories, says Jason Sidana, CEO of Midknight Genius, a digital marketing and web development agency in Farmingdale.

If you update the main ones, the details might trickle down to others over time, but that’s not guaranteed, and it’s important to be vigilant, he says, noting he uses Site Booster to manage client listings.

The more information you can add to your listing the better, Sidana says. Adding photos can be helpful, even a 360-degree view of  your store on  your Google business page.

His client Manny Singh, owner of Worthy footwear and apparel stores in Hicksville and Westbury, did that and says it has had good results.

It gives customers a view of what’s inside the store and  piques their interest, says Singh, noting customers will mention they saw the store on Google.

Some listing sites even allow you to add a short profile of your business or coupons, says Andrew Catalano, chief digital officer of the Austin Williams ad agency in Hauppauge.

Generally speaking, the more information you have on a listing, the higher the likelihood the listing will show up at the top of search engine results, he says.

The risk of not claiming your profile on a site is that you could have dozens of different profile pages created by customers who may have checked into your location on social media, he says. This could result in inaccuracies if you don't claim the profile pages. 

Fast Fact:

FAST FACT

93%

Percentage of consumers who said they are frustrated by incorrect information in online directories

Source: BrightLocal

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