By |Published On: August 21, 2012|

Your business information may be on hundreds of online directories across the web … and in all likelihood, it’s wrong

For years, Yellow Page companies have published a listing for every local company or organization within the directory’s geographical coverage area. These “free listings” consist of the business name, address, and phone number.

Yellow Page Free Listings

Since there may be more than one phone book for the area, a local business could be listed in multiple directories without even knowing it.

Do You Know Your “Place”?

One way Google has come to dominate local search is by creating its online version of these free listings, then allowing businesses and organizations to “claim” it. Once claimed, the listing can be updated and managed to ensure their information appears correctly on Google Maps and elsewhere.

Originally called “Places,” they recently merged these listings with their social media network and renamed it Google+ Local. To date, Google has cataloged the name, address, and phone number of over 80 million businesses and organizations worldwide.

Yahoo! and Bing have similar local listings. There are also hundreds of other online directories, such as Yelp, Superpages, Citysearch, Angie’s List, MerchantCircle, and Foursquare that get millions of visitors each month.

Since most of the listing information is available from big data providers, it’s not difficult for these sites to create online directories for millions of local businesses nationwide.

The problem with the availability of all this data is twofold. First, your business information may be incorrect. That’s like having the wrong phone number in—not two or three—but hundreds phone books.

Your business category can also be wrong. (We were listed as an employment agency.) Duplicates—where two different businesses are listed with the same address or phone number—are also common.

The other problem is consumers can leave negative reviews about your company on websites you didn’t even know existed. To compound matters, many of these review sites share their data with other sites, which means one bad review can wind up everywhere.

As I’ve said before, technology is disrupting your marketing. It’s important to take control of both your online business information and what others are saying about you—before it’s too late.

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