If you’re the owner of a small to medium business these days you almost certainly have multiple online business listings. But a lot of SMB’s fail to realize that there could be dozens of listings for their business out there on the Web that they didn’t even create. What’s worse, you have no control over these listings, and they can say anything they want about your business, unless you take the time to claim them as your own.
You might think it’s a time-consuming hassle to track down all your business listings and then go through the process of claiming them. But the fact is that claiming a listing is usually a free and simple procedure, there are many benefits to doing so, and potentially some very serious consequences if you don’t. Here’s a quick look at some great reasons you should be claiming your online business listings.
- To ensure accurate information. If you didn’t create the listing and haven’t claimed control over it, there’s a better than even chance it contains inaccurate information about important details, like your location, hours of business, contact information, website URL, and the products and services you offer. According to a recent study by marketing research firm Brightlocal, 80% of consumers surveyed report losing trust in a business and 68% would stop being a customer if the information on a listing is wrong, and another 93% say they get frustrated and take their business elsewhere if they get lost trying to find a business because of incorrect location info or directions. There’s nothing worse than losing potential customers because of something you didn’t even create.
- To protect your reputation. If you don’t control your online business listings, they can easily be taken over by another party, or hijacked. This is a very common tactic most often used by spammers and other unsavory types, but it could also be done by an unscrupulous competitor, or even by an unsatisfied customer who decides to take revenge by attacking your reputation. Your business could easily be severely damaged by just one determined listing pirate.
- It improves your SEO. When you claim a business listing, it becomes an official citation of your business in the eyes of Google and other search engines, and the more of these you have, the better. You can add a link to your website, and make the listing mobile-friendly, which is an important part of an effective SEO strategy. According to a study by CRM SaaS firm Hubspot, 78% of mobile device users utilize local search to find products and services, and a majority of those who find your company online will contact you or visit your brick and mortar store within 24 hours and make a purchase.
- Manage your online reviews. With a claimed business listing, you can easily monitor customer reviews left at the site, and respond with your own communications if you like. There are many services out there these days that greatly simplify online reputation management. You may not be able to prevent someone from leaving a negative review, but you can at least deny it or offer an explanation, and a personal response from you shows your customers that you care what people think about your business.
Claiming your business listing is almost always free and it’s not hard to do. First you’ll have to find them. This site has a pretty good list of the most popular sites to get you started, and you can search for your listings online. Once you’ve found your listing, or if you’re creating a new one, you’ll be asked to complete a profile with a description of your business and all the relevant details you’d like to include, including images and videos. Then you’ll be asked to verify your identity, either with an email notification you’ll have to respond to, or a phone call with a PIN number to verify. Remember to use good SEO practices when filling out your profile.
It’s a good idea to set aside a little time each day to claiming your business listings. It’s well worth the time and effort you put into it.