Business Directories on the Internet – A Lesson in Business Control

I’ve helped a client recently with their business directory listings on the internet. This particular client has just moved premises due to a change of circumstances. Starting fresh with the same business but in a new home.

The web site for the previous establishment has been closed and most electronic assets have evaporated into the ether. Nothing mystical about any of this – this is  a case of stock standard transitioning, specific to the circumstances of this client.

As the service provider helping this client build a new web presence and improve their business value, I’ve looked at a number of broader strategies. The building blocks I use to help my clients always include a complete social media strategy. I do this by building on what social channels my client already has, and by creating new channels when they are relevant to the client’s enterprise. In this case, my client has facebook, but no other social media outlets. Almost a blank slate.

As part of an over-reaching SEO strategy, I also made sure that I did a search on business listings on the internet.

Always Be Auditing

I found out that my client’s business had been listed in an astonishing 28 different business directories. None of which were under control. And almost none of which my client was even aware of.

First the good news:

  • The business’s contact phone number was correct across all directory entries.
  • The minority showed the previous and expected address and no major inaccuracies.

And now the bad news:

  • Most entries were showing a very old address – these would have been current ten years ago.
  • Some of the entries were showing incorrect web site information.

Luckily, the cases where incorrect addresses were in the majority. And, since the phone number never changed, there was every chance that a potential customer could get in contact with my client. But those doing “drive bys” because they were in the neighbourhood might have simply assumed the business was long gone, and moved on to a competitor.

In some cases – on the more advanced business directory sites that allow links to web sites, facebook pages etcetera – there were bigger issues. I found that some business directory links included a web site which linked to competitor businesses. Without querying the business directories themselves, it’s difficult to know how this happened. The records for these changes may no longer even be in their change logs due to age. It is also unclear how much business may have ‘walked’ due to this type of listing error. The point is: don’t let this happen to you.

But How?

How did so many directory listings become created? Don’t forget, my client was unaware that many of these entries even existed.

In this particular case the reasons are complicated. One is that there have been changes in employees, so a possible explanation is that a previous employee may have created the original records. Some may have been created by loyal customers. There’s a number of possible reasons that bogus web links were assigned to some of these records. The first priority is to make a record of what links are broken (take screen shots too). Then make changes to resolve such issues, and then make inquiries.

Some of the entries will have been created by the business directories themselves. Some business directories attempt to stay relevant by extracting data from directories such as Google and Yellow Pages. Then they coerce you to ‘claim your business listing’. Sometimes this process is free. Sometimes they’re trying to get you in the door to offer and sell you premium services. It’s a bait tactic. It’s also a hassle when there’s this many.

Lessons

So, here is today’s lesson plan.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you know how many business directories your business is listed in?
  2. Are you sure?
  3. Is your current service provider or IT department helping you with this?

Do the following:

  1. Check your business directory listings on Google Maps and Bing Maps. Do it now!
  2. Check your business directory listings on other directories such as PinkPages and Yellow Pages. Correct anything that needs correcting.
  3. Make sure that in each directory listing that the contact and address information is current and correct.
  4. Make sure that all links in all directory listings are links to your business. That includes facebook, twitter, other social media, plus any web site links.
  5. Do this once per week.

Lost?

If you’re not sure if you have the time to do this, or you don’t know where to start, that’s OK. The Creature is here to help.

Ready Right Now!

I’ve created a list of free (and some not-so-free) business directories to help you advertise your business more effectively. You can use this list to check against the points I’ve raised above. And it might give you ideas about where you can further market your own enterprise. It may even help you discover serious listing errors that are hurting your business right now. For more details, click here.

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