Listings … what are they?
Do you know what your “listings” are? Anywhere your business name, address, phone number and website (NAPW) appear on the web is a listing. These are places like Google my Business (formerly Google+), Yellowpages.com, Foursquare, and dozens of other sites. Listings are the foundation of your online presence and if they are not accurate and consistent across all the places you are listed, it’s going to affect search results.
The challenge is that you probably don’t even know all the places your business is listed because every search engine wants to have you listed, but they don’t ask your permission. They can buy your information from one of the 4 major data aggregators to populate their data base. But if the companies they buy your information from don’t have the “right” information, Google and other search engines will see that you are inconsistent and inaccurate across the web. The search engine asks itself “the information is different in different place so which one is correct”? If that’s the case you are likely going to get passed over in favor of a business with consistent listings because the search engine wants to give the searcher a good answer. Make sense?
So, while you’re out there tweaking your website and posting like a maniac on Social Media, are you positive that your listings are accurate and consistent? Why wouldn’t they be? Well, have you ever:
- Changed your business address?
- Adjusted your business hours?
- Moved your website?
- Added a toll-free phone number?
- It’s even possible that one of your competitors has claimed “your” listing and changed your phone number to theirs. Ouch!
If you’ve had any of these things change, did you manually go to every single place you might be listed and update those items? If not, then you probably have listing issues. And that’s going to affect your search results.
Anyone that says they can help you be more effective online that doesn’t understand the critical importance of your listings is not giving you the whole story.
Do you live in a house? If 75% of the foundation of your house was crumbling would you install new carpet and tile? hopefully not, but that’s what businesses are doing when they ignore their listings. You can put nice photo’s, video’s, reviews and copy all over your website and social media but it doesn’t get you the results because your listings aren’t accurate. Focus on the foundation first, then build on top of that.
Listings aren’t very glamorous. Just like when you build a new home you don’t talk to the contactor about the foundation, you focus on the rooms, flooring, colors and kitchen. That’s the fun part. It’s the same with your online presence. It’s more fun to focus on the “look” but the underlying issues with bad listings will keep the search engines from taking you seriously when customers search for a business like yours.
Some agencies get your attention with the “looks” because that’s what you want to hear. Six months later you’ve spent a few thousand dollars but your beautiful new website, with all the latest widgets and social media links, didn’t get you any new business. So, you fire them and go to the next agency or try to do it yourself without the proper tools or just give up out of frustration.
Start with the foundation of accurate and consistent listings and build from there.