Are one of the many business owners that fail to understand how important local business listings are? If you are, just know you aren't alone. However, let me ask you something. Have you ever found bad data online from an online listing? Has that data caused you to -- let's say, be late to an important appointment? One reason for this could be because the business changed locations and failed to update it online.
Do you believe this is how customers want to be treated? Do you believe this is going to get potential customers to actually come to your business and become a regular customer of yours?
The answer to both of those questions is a resounding NO!
What is the point in having an online presence if you can't entice prospective customers to come to your store, office or showroom so that you have the chance to convert them into paying customers instead of individuals who are simply browsing your online website?
In addition, as a customer, one of the most frustrating things is finding out that you've been providing with inaccurate information regarding a business's location. When this happens, what are the chances that you are going to do business with this company? They are slim to none. In fact, statistics show that about 73 percent of consumers will lose trust in a company/brand when online listings show inaccurate information.
With all of this being said, it goes without saying that it is critical to the success of your business that the information in your online business listings be 100 percent accurate. Here are six specific reasons why:
1. When Hours of Operation Go Missing, Consumers Aren't Often Willing to Give Second Chances.
When it comes to local business listings online, there are several things that a user may be searching for, regardless of whether they are using their mobile device or desktop PC to conduct the search. However, the one piece of information that almost always tops the list of information searched for is a business's hours of operation.
One study showed that the hours of operation for a business was the most beneficial feature in choosing a business when conducting a local search. Just slightly over 75 percent of respondents reported that they expected to find this information during their search and about 61 percent said that they believed it was a feature that helped them to hone in on a company.
New businesses tend to use the excuse that they are new if they don't have their hours of operation listed yet. However, regardless of whether you are a new business or you've been in business for a decade, this doesn't give a good impression if they are not listed or if they are listed inaccurately. This only leads to that customer conducting yet another search and find a different business with the hours of operation listed or correct hours of operation listed and doing their business there.
2. NAP Data Must Contain Your Address to Work Properly.
While the hours of hours may top the list of the most beneficial information for a business, the second most searched for piece of information for a business is its physical address. This is good news for you, as a business owner, since you can't make money unless you attract foot traffic and increase your customer base.
However, if your business address is listed incorrectly on business listings on Google, Bing, Yelp, etc., then you won't be attracting any type of foot traffic or increasing your customer base. All it takes is one wrong number in the street address, North instead of South, or the wrong town, and your customers will be pointed in the wrong direction.
The United States Postal Service will use a system to verify addresses and most search engines default to the USPS to check addresses. This means that your address with City Hall needs to be the same as it is in the USPS system. Otherwise, the USPS won't recognize your address and you will need to contact USPS to update your address and have it updated in their online database.
3. Local Searchers Are Stuck to Their Mobile Devices.
According to research, in-store purchases are very highly driven by searches made on mobile devices. In fact, over 75 percent of these searches will usually end with a purchase. However, this is only if the business's online listing information is accurate.
So, if half of consumers are searching for a company's listing on Google Maps, but they are unable to find the business's listing details, then that business will lose 100 percent of that consumer's business.
To make things easy for prospective customers, details need to be easily accessible via mobile devices. The best way to accomplished this is with a responsive website that will support both mobile devices, tablets and desktops all at the same time.
4. The First Impression Is Still Achieved with an Accurate and Updated Website.
While a large percentage of consumers utilize mobile devices (and this is obviously the norm these days), there are still plenty of people who conduct their searches on desktop PCs. And, research shows that over 60 percent of desktop PC searches can end in a purchase. Therefore, business owners need to ensure that they do not overlook the importance of their business website as it relates to their business listing.
Business listings should always link back to a company's website and it should always consist of the same exact information. The website just needs to consist of more detailed information. The website should have information that entices the customer to make a purchase or to visit the brick-and-mortar store. However, if there are inconsistencies between the listing and the website, then there is a trust issue that could develop and lead the customer to going elsewhere to make a purchase.
5. Local Searchers Will Mix Things Up Across Different Devices, Times and Situations.
Individuals who are searching for online business listings are doing it differently than they did 20 years ago when the interest first popped up. Back then, we were only using desktops and then laptops. We have now evolved to mobile devices and tablets. Over time, the way we searched changed.
Over the last several years, developers have decided that they ultimately need to find a way to be smarter. Instead of designing multiple sites for multiple platforms, they can create websites that can respond to the device that is viewing the website.
Just two years ago, 68 percent of Americans owned smartphones and 45 percent of Americans owned computers and smartphones. Nearly 50 percent of American adults utilized their smartphones to find local information online, while 40 percent and 11 percent used computers and tablets, respectively.
In addition to the type of device, the time and situation also varies when we are searching. For example, people tend to search entertainment-related information on computers during work hours, health and fitness information is searched on tablets during the evening, and restaurants are searched for on mobile devices during the evening.
While all of this is important, the most crucial thing is that you ensure your information is accurate. Otherwise, these mobile searches mean nothing for your business. It is imperative that you have your business listing information accurate as technology evolves and changes the way that you need to interact with your customers.
6. Local Search Results Are Trustworthy.
Local search results are some of the most trustworthy. Research has shown that these searches are what users conduct the most since they put so much trust in their local businesses (much more than they do big stores).
After all, wouldn't you rather go to a local store to get your hands on the hot, new "product" instead of waiting for a week to a week and a half for delivery, which could end up getting delayed with USPS and causing you to not have it in time? Plus, customers will often be treated like a million bucks in the process. It is for reasons like these that local businesses get so much trust and loyalty from customers, even if they have to pay a little more for the product.
With that being said, you must make sure your business listing information is correct so your customers can find you and know you're legitimate. Customers that trust you will lead to loyal customers. That, in turn, will lead to much more business from them and more sales revenue for you. In the end, there are happy customers and happy business owners.
And, all it takes is accurate information in business listings in a consumer's local search.