Online directory listings are something we see on a frequent basis. A quick online search may present you with several listings from sources such as Yelp.com, YP.com, CityMaps, DexKnows, among the many options available online. In the worldwide web, online listings have formed their own ecosystem, with thousands of participants actively feeding an information highway every day, understanding this system, comes down to a few important factors to focus on.
Where Does the Information for Online Listings Come From?
Just about anything you put online can be seen by your online consumers, but also by search engines and sites whose sole purpose is to look for information to populate online directories with updated information. These sites, called Aggregators, will look at your website, your social pages, and anywhere online your business name, address, phone number, and website are listed. Small changes and minor discrepancies in this data can be noticed by an aggregator, and sent to an online directory as an update to the information currently displaying for your business.
“Online Listing Aggregators Are websites or software that scavenge and collect specific types of information from multiple online sources.”
“Google is a data aggregator in terms of aggregating content for display in Search Engine Results Pages”
On the other side of the Listings Ecosystem, online directories, in an effort to always have up-to-date information for consumers, are constantly looking to the online aggregators for updates to make in their listing databases. In addition to feeding updates from the aggregators, many online directories including Google+, Yelp.com, and Facebook allow data updates from users. While many sites require an account profile before a change can be made to your business’ listing information, some sites such as Google also allow information edits to be requested by general users who are likely not connected to your business.
Online Directories are “website submission services where your website is added to the proper category in a searchable Online Directory which enhances your site’s visibility”
The Constantly Changing World of Online Listings
With changes to your online listing data potentially coming from multiple sources, controlling the display of your data may seem more time consuming than it is worth. However, keep in mind, the way your business appears online, whether in the search results, your social pages, or an online directory listing, may be the 1st impression many of your customers ever get of your business. Having incorrect data for this impression can make your business look untrustworthy. Taking some important steps and the time to manage this impression can make the difference in getting that next new customer, or sending them to your competitor.
If you haven’t yet, take the time to claim and verify your Google+ listing. While Google will allow general user input on their Google+ listing pages, once you have control of this listing, you can also make corrections and updates as needed. Additionally, you can add photos to your listing that can be displayed alongside your business information in the maps listings of a Google search.
Not only is Google the King of the Search Results, they also hold the coveted position in the center of the Listings Ecosystem, and they deserve it. As a Listing Aggregator and an Online Directory, the way Google allows you to display your business listing (they prefer Post Office Standards), will be used as a primary baseline for many other networks online. Yet another reason why having control of your Google+ listing can mean new customers for your business!
Taking Control of Your Online Listings:
For some businesses focusing on the top directories including those in your business industry, those found online in your local market, and your Google+ listing, will help set most of the record straight and bring a strong amount of consistency to your online listings. It’s always key to pay attention to your NAP+W, or your Business Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website. Consistency down to the “.” in your abbreviations, is key to showing the online aggregators and directories which information is purposely submitted, and they should be displaying.
If your business has gone through some growing pains along the way, including moved locations, changed business or brand names, or built additional locations; you may have discovered the inconsistencies in your business data are a lot to keep up with. Since anything that is put online is likely there in some form or another forever, businesses that have moved or changed names, may also be getting confused as multiple businesses, or worse, a previous location has been marked “Permanently Closed”.
Businesses in such situations may find looking to a professional service and relying on the experts to help normalize your data online is really what is needed. If you are finding yourself in this situation, take a moment to consider the time and skills your business will need to claim and update the top online directories affecting your business, and if it is worth bringing in another team to help in this area.