Security about Local Business Listings is critical to avoid local listing hijackings
If you keep a eye out on Microsoft Bing’s Local Listing Center you will find that occasionally their system is backlogged and they do not accept new local business listing claiming until their backlog and issues have been resolved.
When visiting the URL https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx the following notice gets posted:
“Local Listing Center Backlog:
We have received a lot of feedback recently regarding issues with claiming and updating business listings using Bing Local Listing Center. We are actively working on fixing these issues and will closely monitor the progress of clearing out the backlog. We understand that this has been very frustrating for many of you and sincerely apologize for the long delays. Thank you for your patience!
Bing Local Listing Center Team”
These types of local business listing frustrations with the claiming process are only part of the problems business owners face. Feel free to take a look at the Bing Local Listing Center forums to see the types of frustrations that exist at http://www.bing.com/community/forums/12279.aspx
Local business listings have become a good local business marketing tool for the local business to reach the local consumer through web searches and mobile searches. Afterall, local business listings are showing up before organic results in a regular search at the major search engines.
Unfortunately, not all business owners have come to the realization that they do not have to passively let these interactive web pages exist. There are those business owners that have caught on quickly if they claim and update their local business listing, they can use this as a local marketing tool. To some extent some do not even have to bother with search engine optimization (seo) of their website, but rather put their energy into the local business listing.
In order to make these interactive yellow pages a beneficial local business marketing tool, the first step is to claim the local listing before you can update the listing with the business marketing material. This claiming process is partly to blame for the issues Microsoft Bing is encountering with their backlog. Depending upon the website there are four methods being employed to verify the authenticity of the claimant
2. Postcard in the mail with a Pin code
3. Phone call to your business phone number with a pin code
4. Manual verification
The Pin Code that is provided is to unlock the local business listing in order to update the information with text copy, keywords, business descriptions, products, services, photos, videos, coupons, and much more. Depending upon the local listing website, some allow you all of these options (e.g. Google) others begin charging a fee for enhanced listing in order to have all this information present to the local consumer through web searches or mobile searches.
The claiming process is very important because if the wrong person gets access to the local business listing for a business they can detract customers to a different location by phone or by website address. Additional damage that can be done includes incorrect information on photos, videos, coupons, and much more. Because consumers are using the local business listings to locate a business, product or service in their immediate area in person, by phone or website, the security around local business listings has to be high priority for any local listing website.
Local business listings started with a basic business directory on the Internet going back over a decade. The process has evolved and matured as social media and mobile devices allowed consumers to start using these interactive yellow pages to post their reviews as well as use them to locate a business, product or service in their local area. There are over 60 local business listing websites on the Internet in five different categories. They include the search engines, social communities, 411 websites (aka yellow page type websites), GPS websites and the age old business directory.
I have discussed Local Business Listing Hijackings and Local Business Listing Brand Security Concerns in previous articles. It is absolutely important to not passively wait for the local listing websites to put the appropriate security in place to claim your listing. The complexity of these local listing websites to put security in place ranges to include not only the obvious claiming process, but many of them allow data to be inserted from other databases on the Internet and I cannot say I am clear there is good security around this later process. If someone wanted to hijack a local business listing, they could just as easily insert the wrong information through a low level business directory that sells its data upstream or inserts its data directly into a higher level local listing website.
Depending whose data source you use, there is an estimated 30 million businesses in the U.S. While the top search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo have “some” front end security to their process; their API’s make them vulnerable through the back door. Data is provided to their local listings from 3rd party sources including “get listed” services. Additionally, if someone cannot claim a listing easily, the process within these local listing websites allows for additional listings with the same address to be submitted by anyone. While none of these local listing websites have the capacity to take on the claiming process of 100% of all business all at the same time, the recommendation is to start the claiming process regardless of how long it may take and if they get back logged. This is not just a top tier search engine issue either. The claiming process has to be performed through lower tiered local listing websites, as well, in order to insure accurate information that is being passed around the Internet.
Certainly your time resources are limited and Local Business Listing Management Services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing. You will find SmartFinds Internet Marketing to be of great benefit to your time resources and the low cost service may eliminate your yellow page ad costs. Let the experts of over 15 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly.
Local business listings have become a significant local marketing tool that is showing the demise of the traditional yellow pages and equally the traditional coupons. The famous Stars Wars quote comes to mind “This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, and will soon see the end of the Rebellion. – Darth Vader”
With the onset of mobile devices and mobile applications becoming a more useful tool to the local consumers, we have to wonder how this will affect the traditional coupons that are printed and cut using scissors. The impact we are discussing comes in three forms and we’re not talking about the convenience to the local consumer.
- The first is the cost reduction for the local business from having to pay for their coupons to be printed and distributed. The cost reduction goes down to $0 (zero)!
- The second is the impact upon companies whose business is reliant on printing and distributing these coupons. This would include large corporations like Valassis and Val-Pak all the way down to the small local coupon company.
- The third impact is one we have discussed before related to the traditional yellow pages. Local business listings are already having an impact upon the usage of the traditional yellow pages and its effectiveness for the local business has been dwindling for years.
The reason the cost to the local business is going to go down to zero is because the local business can post their coupons to their local business listing for free. Particularly with Google, although, electronic coupons through local business listings will all reduce the costs for the local business. Not only will they be able to reduce their costs, but they will see their coupons have a larger reach geographically without any additional costs.
Local business listings and business directories have been on the web for quite some time. This part is nothing new and neither is the ability for the local business to post their coupons electronically. The primary difference comes in the local consumers having the ability to obtain these coupons electronically to their mobile devices while they are about town. No longer do we need to print the coupons before we leave the house, we will have them at our finger tips when we arrive at a store. We don’t’ even need to plan ahead. When you arrive at a store you will be able to bring up their local business listing to see if there is a coupon available.
While this process has a significant impact upon the coupon companies (especially if they are not planning for this existing change to their business), for the local business this is good news and in order to take advantage of this cost reduction they will need to engage in their local business listing at multiple local listing websites.
Local business listings are a local business marketing tool for the local business to reach the local consumer through web searches and mobile searches. As a local business or small business dependent upon the local consumer for your revenue you can tap into a free marketing tool with search engines, social communities, 411 websites and GPS websites.
Tapping into local business listings as a business marketing tool starts by setting up accounts and claiming your listing at multiple local listing websites. Please do not be fooled by companies that provide a “get listed” service, because most businesses are already listed. Of course, the majority of local business listings are not claimed by the business and they have incomplete or incorrect information. Your competitors therefore become the next best choice for the local consumer.
Aside from the benefits of mobile coupons, the other good news about local listings is that they show up on the first page of a search engine result based on the search term and the locality. For this reason, optimizing a website is not as necessary as having your local listing claimed and up-to-date. Local businesses no longer need to understand the intricacies of search engine optimization (seo) of their business website.
If you’re wondering why you need to manage your local business listing at all these locations the answer has two parts.
- The first is the local consumer who will decide which website they will use to submit their reviews and comments about a business, product or service. Equally where they will go to get your coupons. This one is probably the most important.
- The second is the mobile marketing industry. Google may be the 800 lb. gorilla “on” the web, but in the mobile industry, the mobile application developer will decide whose database of local listings they will use to display on mobile devices and this includes the mobile coupons.
Certainly this local business marketing tool is going to evolve and mature over the next few years. Planning and preparing for success lies with getting started now. This may be the first time we can see into the future and not wait to be behind the eight ball.
Your time resources are limited and Local Business Listing Management Services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing. You will find this to be of great benefit to your time resources and the low cost service may eliminate your yellow page ad costs. Let the experts of over 15 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly and prevent brand security issues from occurring.
Local business listing hijacking is a real situation that can and will have an impact upon a business brand name. If the business is reliant on the local consumer for revenue, local business listings have evolved into a good local marketing tool. In order to tap into this business marketing tool you have to claim, update and manage your local listing at multiple local listing websites. No, you probably do not need to “get listed” at the tier 1 local listing websites and search engines.
Local business listings are in five major categories of websites. They include search engines, social communities, 411 websites, GPS websites and business directories. They have existed for a number of years and the primary data source starts with the phone companies. The next data source comes from local listing websites sharing data amongst themselves. This has caused duplicate listings for the same company and address.
The evolution and maturity of the data about a business has changed to now include consumer reviews and the ability of adding the business marketing information like videos, photos, coupons and links to the business website. The consumer reviews have become very important as they provide a testimonial about a business to other local consumers. These consumer reviews became an important aspect of Google’s recent and failed attempt to acquire Yelp for $500 million. Not only do these consumer reviews give feedback to other consumers, but search engines, like Google, can utilize this as an additional data point in their algorithm to decide a business’ website ranking position in search results.
Over the next three years the technologies that will be implemented to enhance local business listings as a marketing tool for the business are staggering. This is not about local business listings showing up on the first page of a search result or in the hands of consumer’s mobile devices with mobile searches. The convergence of search, mobile, social media and local listings are giving way to new mobile applications; QR codes; citations; mobile marketing; mobile advertising. This will be a very significant segment of advertising dollars and consumer consumption.
If we focus our attention on consumer reviews from within local listings and website ranking position, you can see why a competitor may want to secure a local listing that does not belong to them. The most popular criminal case is in New Zealand in which a florist has been sentenced to seven years in prison for using the Google local listing dishonestly, causing harm to other florist and without right of claim. If you search on “local listing hijackings”, I’m sure you will find other cases that are in progress.
Security with local listing websites leaves much to be desired at a variety of levels. Examples include post cards that are easily identified with pin codes; creating new accounts easily without verification; duplicate listings causing security confusion and the list goes on. Considering these security problems exist with tier 1 websites, you can only imagine how easily someone can fraudulently impersonate another business with tier 2 websites. Tier 2 websites that later feed into the Internet system incorrectly.
If you are a business and believe that you will passively wait for “the system” to fix the problems, then I think you are going to be waiting a longer time than you would like. The best example we have for brand security concerns lies with Twitter-jacking that had been going on before celebrities went to court. Brand name protection and brand security are a very real problem with local listing websites. These websites that are not prepared to adequately provide the security necessary to avoid fraudulent criminal behavior by your competitors or from another country. Local listing websites by the very nature of their service do not have security as a primary capability.
Are the local listing websites working on security? Yes, I would say that based on news coverage and other writings, this area is being addressed, however, still not at a level that can avoid hijackings. Business directory websites certainly are not showing any level of security to “get listed”. These directories are much too easy to be hijacked with an existing listing or a new account.
Passively waiting for appropriate levels of security is not going to help with brand name protection and brand security. The answer to this problem is to claim, update and manage your business local listing at multiple local listing websites as soon as possible. You will be able to use this as a positive business marketing tool to the local consumers in web searches and mobile searches. You will also be able to manage your reviews, engage in new technologies like QR Codes and evolve with this business marketing tool over the next three years.
Certainly your time resources are limited and Local Business Listing Management Services are provided by SmartFinds Internet Marketing. You will find this to be of great benefit to your time resources and the low cost service may eliminate your yellow page ad costs. Let the experts of over 15 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly and prevent brand security issues from occurring.