Local Discovery: Can Customers Find Your Business?

Finding Local BusinessesAlthough local discovery has become a buzzword, it is a business concept that has been around for centuries. Large technology companies are jumping into the fray with promising apps like Field Trip (Google), Spindle and Alike (Yahoo!), but how do people find local businesses to provide the products and services that they need today? 

Business Directories

In years past, people would patronize a local business simply because it was recommended by family or friends (word-of-mouth) or because it was in the neighborhood. In the 1600′s, city directories were created with listings of merchants in a local area, followed by telephone directories in the late 1870′s. Since that time, nothing much changed about local discovery until the Internet changed everything. The print directories were replicated online as Internet Yellow Pages (IYP).

Search Engines

Early Internet search engines, such as Excite, Infoseek, Altavista and Yahoo!, were actually directories that required webmasters to submit their sites. Later, search engines began to index websites on their own, starting with Webcrawler, but later perfected by Google, which grew to dominate the search market. 

Local Discovery

Incorrect Business InformationA recent study commissioned by Yext, a local listing management company, showed that people now use online methods for finding local businesses even more than recommendations from family or friends. Of those surveyed, more used search engines (43%) and online/print directories (29%) to find local businesses than referrals from family or friends (23%).

The study also showed that across 40,000 listings checked on 50+ directory sites, 43% had at least one incorrect or missing address and 37% had at least one incorrect or missing name on a listing. The most common errors were missing listings and missing or incorrect addresses, phone numbers or websites. When potential customers find incorrect information about a business, 15% of them said they would look for another merchant. There is a definite cost to incorrect business data, as shown in the Yext study.

The Cost of Incorrect Business Data

The Cost of Incorrect Business Data

Accurate Information

So, how do you make sure that your business information is correct when it appears in search engines and local directories?  An important step in ensuring that business information is correct in Google is to set up a Google+ Local page for your business with correct information and if you have multiple locations, you should set up local pages for each location. To ensure that your directory information is correct, you can either go to the directory sites and claim/edit your listings individually, or you can use a tool that will evaluate your listings and show you where there are inconsistencies. SuperMedia has partnered with Yext to offer a free business listings evaluation tool that will perform this task for you. Once you have  evaluated your listings, you can access each one of the directory sites and correct the information or there are services available that can help you with that, as well.

Regardless of how you choose to evaluate and update your Google information and business listings, it is vital that as a business owner, you make sure that your business information is correct in all the places where potential customers are looking for you.

About Jonathan Jeter

Jonathan Jeter has been creating websites since 1997 and has been with SuperMedia since 2009. He is currently Front-End Web Development & UI manager for superpages.com, SuperMedia.com and other SuperMedia web properties and concentrates on various aspects of website development for small and medium businesses, including UI design & development, SEO, Social Media, Local Search, and Online Marketing.
Connect with him on Twitter or Google+.

Comments

  1. We are something of an anomaly when it comes to SEO. Yes, when I post content in blogs such as this I also make sure to include our website. Many times the blog hoster does not allow the site to be hyperlinked which is a shame. HOWEVER, I have seen that because our content is “News” we can easily have the large organizations and governmental offices simply link to our website via the article/interview we did on them. It gives us both more exposure as well as offers tremendous backlinking potential without solely links on blog posts. At the end of the day much of what matters is if and how you appear on a SERP and backlinks are the key to that.

    • Good points about SEO. That’s why it is so important that your URL and other listing data is correct. As a small business, you can make sure that your listing data is correct, but when you have to run a business, it’s much more difficult to implement an effective backlinking strategy.

      As far as posting a link to your website, most blogs allow a no follow link to your website linked to your username, but it is very hard to get a followed link in the contents of a blog post comment.

  2. Thanks John,

    I actually just discovered the ‘nofollow’ rule. I am assuming it is a way to maintain the integrity of blog and its comments by eliminating those simply posting for a backlink….I am also assuming that it is a cumbersome process for the “blogmaster” to screen each comment thoroughly. I say this because, yes, people know about the importance of backlinks for SEO results but maybe they should be rewarded with a “follow” (sorry if that’s not the tech term) link to their website if they offer a nice and informative piece of content to a blog via a comment, this for that.

    Can you enlighten me a bit on the mental process that bloggers/webmasters may go through when deciding to use a “nofollow” or not and the screening process as it relates to my description above?

    Thanks a lot John,

    Diego

    • A “follow” link vs a “no-follow” link tell the search engine that your site is associated with or approves of the content of the destination URL. The reason most blogs do not allow followed links is because they will not automatically associate themselves with every link that is posted in the comments.

      However, if you post relevant, engaging content in your blog comments, people will be interested to find out more about you and will click the link associated with your account on the blog.

      Hope this helps.

      Jonathan

  3. Great post! It’s very informative. I remember the first time I submitted some article and posting blogs regarding on my website I was wondering why I still have less visitors on my website then I figure out that I mistakenly used some keywords and some keywords were misspelled. I have written “resposive website” instead of “responsive website” and other incorrect input. That is why I really agree with you that it is very important to double check and make sure that the information that we share are all correct specially the url and all.

    • Good point, Ryan.

      It is not only important that all of your business information be correct, but also the terms that your potential customers might be searching for.

      Thanks for your response.

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