At one point or another, you’ve probably searched for a local business online and seen outdated or inaccurate information. Whether it’s a wrong telephone number or an old address, this frustration leaves a negative first impression of that business and just might cost them the business altogether. The same experience can happen to potential clients for financial advisors. The good news? This can be fixed (and prevented) if you take the proper steps in making your advisor marketing plan.
HOW DO ERRORS IN ONLINE CITATIONS HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE?
First off, let’s examine how incorrect local listings happen. According to a survey by Yext, 95% of the respondents had found incorrect business information online. This can happen for a number of reasons, including employee turnover, inaccurate phone book information or simply an oversight. For example, if the employee responsible for managing local listings leaves and no one takes over the task, it can easily be forgotten. Let’s say you move locations and have a new address. If you don’t correct that address in your local listing, it could be sending customers to the old address.
Some common incorrect listing information includes:
- Multiple phone numbers for the same location
- Incorrect/broken link to website
- Multiple listings for the same business due to a name change or merger
- Incorrect address after a move
- Outdated photos – pictures of outdated signage or a previous office location
- Outdated landmarks
- Incorrect hours of operation
- Invalid links to social accounts
WHY DO LOCAL LISTINGS MATTER SO MUCH?
According to the Local Search Association (LSA), 63% of local searches are made by people undecided on a provider or retailer. That means that while they’re searching, they’re still thinking about where to send their business. If your information is incorrect and your potential clients get discouraged, they will likely move on to one of your competitors. In fact, 37% of consumers have indicated not to consider a business with inconsistent information in their online listing.
Additionally, popular search engines (such as Google) have algorithms that determine which businesses appear in search results. This formula penalizes listings with discrepancies or inconsistent information, or those that are incomplete, making the chance of appearing in someone’s search results smaller than other businesses with correct and complete listings. And since 33% of consumers use search engines to find local results, that’s a huge portion of potential business you could be sacrificing by having errors in your online listing.
WHAT IS MISSING FROM YOUR LOCAL LISTING?
It’s not just about what’s incorrect or inconsistent with your listing – it’s also important to determine what could be missing. If your listing doesn’t include photos, consider including them. Adding a picture of yourself and/or your staff as well as your offices can let potential clients feel that they are “meeting” you via the Internet. Consider your local directory as an extension of your website, and if you update information on your website regularly (which you should), then you should also be updating your online citations regularly.
Links to social channels are also a good way to enhance your online presence. In fact, research from Yext found that businesses that link their listings to their Twitter handle and Facebook page received 54-83% more views. Additionally, listings with rich content (photo gallery, videos, descriptions) received 45-61% more views. This is information that most businesses already have on their website, so repurposing it for inclusion in an online directory should be an easy and worthwhile task.
PAY ATTENTION TO REVIEWS
In many online directories, users have the ability to leave reviews about businesses. These reviews typically have a one- to five-star rating system and also gives the reviewer the option of leaving a comment. These reviews can be a helpful boost to your business, but conversely can be detrimental if negative reviews aren’t addressed by the owners. If the review is left by a customer, you can try to reach out and rectify the situation. If the review is spam or obviously fake, there are steps you can take to get the review flagged and deleted. Additionally, if you want to get more reviews, just ask. According to the LSA, 68% of customers leave a local business review when asked.
HOW CAN ONLINE LISTING ERRORS BE PREVENTED?
Maintaining online citations regularly is essential to prevent errors or inconsistencies. How frequently? Some estimates are as high as 61 times per year. This is because with some online listings, such as Google for example, they accept changes from third-parties. This is done to allow users to be able to add comments and information to help other users. However, this type of crowdsourcing can be detrimental if the business owner isn’t aware of the changes – especially if they are inaccurate. Checking your online citation(s) regularly will help keep incorrect third-party information at bay.
It’s also a good idea to make sure more than one employee has access to the listings in case of employee turnover. If the one person who had access to the business listing leaves, you may find that you have to go through the entire process of “claiming” your business all over again.
Another good practice for keeping online citations updated is to add it to your advisor marketing procedures as an extension of your online presence. For example, you audit your website regularly for errors and updated information; the same should be said for your online citations.
If you consider that any change could affect potential customers and whether they find you in an online search, it won’t be hard to make monitoring your online directory presence a top priority.
Given all of the above information, there’s no denying the importance of correct online citations for local businesses.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.