Local business listings began with a basic business directory more than a decade ago. Chances are, your business has a local listing wherever you have a physical address location. Check it out — go to Google, type in your company name. You’ll probably see a map locating your business and an address. Of course all you may find other information too. Local business listings are treated passively by many businesses. But that could be a mistake. You’ve probably read that prospects have something specific in mind when they are shopping. So try this test. Go back to Google, type in the name of a product or service your business provides plus your hometown. Did your business show up? If it did: congratulations. If it did not: you’re missing a major marketing opportunity.
Times have changed
From a marketing standpoint, the use of local business listings has exploded with the increase of social media and mobile devices. Consumers not only use these interactive yellow pages to locate a business, product or service in their area; they are also posting reviews of those products and services. Today, 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 that age-old business directory.
You can no longer be passive
To make your interactive yellow pages listing a stronger marketing tool, you must first “claim” the listing with all the search engines, social communities, websites and organizations that lead people to it. Once you prove the listing is really yours you can update it with your business marketing material. Businesses are realizing the importance of this claiming process. Once you have claimed your local listing you can update information with text, keywords, business descriptions, products, services, photos, videos, coupons, and more. Some websites, such as Google, allow you to use all these options while others charge a fee for enhanced listings making this information present for local consumers through web or mobile searches
So what’s the “security challenge”?
The claiming process is crucial to security because if the wrong person gets access to your business local listing they can direct customers to a different location by phone or website address. Additional damage can include incorrect information on photos, videos, coupons, and more. Because consumers are using local business listings to locate a business, product or service in their immediate area, the security around local business listings must have a high priority for any local listing website.
Phishing was described in 1987 before the Internet was a commercial boom. The first recorded use of phishing was in1996. The question is whether the business industry is going to wait for something similar to occur using Local Business Listings. The security holes are quite evident with Local Business Listings and I don’t think it takes a genius see what could happen if businesses do not “claim” their listings – the first step in closing those “holes.”
When hackers capture a Local Listing it’s called “high-jacking”
It is absolutely important that businesses not passively wait for local listing websites to put the appropriate security in place before you claim your listing. Installing security starts with the obvious claiming process, but many sites allow data to be inserted from other databases on the Internet and I am not sure there’s good security around this later process. If someone wanted to hijack a local business listing, they could 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.
While the top search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo have “some” front-end security; their API’s (Application Programming Interface) makes 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.
Certainly your time resources are limited and Geo-Marketing 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 16 years Internet marketing experience help you use this local business marketing tool properly and prevent brand security issues from occurring.
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.
If you do a search on “local business listing hijacking” you will find information related to situations in which a competitor hijacked another businesses local listing to their benefit. As of December 7, 2009, Smart Company wrote an article about hijacking prevention. In New Zealand a florist is facing 7 years for hijacking local listings of competitors.
This is a real situation that can and does have an impact upon a business that is not paying attention to their local business listings. If your business relies on the local consumer market for its primary revenue and you are not clear about local business listings, then you need to get caught up real quick.
For one thing local business listings are the demise of the traditional yellow pages. If the traditional yellow pages have not already seen their coffin and at minimum a door stop, then free local business listings are the nails in the coffin. Certainly you will find that you can save money in this space.
Local business listings give a local business the ability to not only have their general information available, but photos, videos, coupons, offers, discounts, promotions to name a few items. Additionally these can be updated 24x7x365. Certainly none of these are features of the traditional yellow pages.
The process gets even better. Not only do these listings show up on the first page of Google for a search result in which a local listing is appropriate, but they show up on mobile devices while local consumers are driving around town. Studies have shown that there is an increase in local search and local search via mobile applications on mobile devices. We won’t get into all that detail here, but you can certainly read one of our previous articles about the statistics.
As you can imagine local listings have been evolving in the past few years and so have mobile devices and mobile applications. Starting in 2010 the two industries are merging even closer.
Just in case you’re still not convinced that you need to pay attention to your local business listing, think about the consumers walking through your store and writing reviews about their experience, products or services. If they don’t like something they can twitter or write a review in any local listing website before they even make it back to the car.
These consumer reviews are very important because in part they determine your ranking amongst other local listing websites for a web search (vs. mobile search). They also have a tremendous value to the search engines, which is one of the reasons Google wanted to acquire Yelp recently.
So, let’s get back to the issue of local business listing hijackings. To prevent this process the first action is to claim your business listing at multiple local listing websites. Certainly Google Local Business Listing will be your first stop, followed by Yahoo, Bing, Local.com, Ask.com and Yelp. You will find that there are many more locations, this is only a start.
Aside from getting involved in local business listings around the web here are a couple of other items to consider. Always be sure to have consistent and as much detailed information about your business as possible, particularly your address. Be sure your information is consistent amongst all locations on the web including your website.
Claiming, updating and managing the ongoing updates and reviews to your local business listing can become a time consuming process. It may at some point require more time than your website. Certainly the local business listings can become your website too.
Because there are multiple locations that have to be updated you may need to consider a service that will help you maintain and manage your local listing at multiple local listing websites. When it comes to the web, Google may be the 800lb gorilla, but in the mobile marketing space, the mobile application developer will ultimately decide what database they will use. Furthermore, the local consumer will be the one to decide which local listing they will use to write their reviews. Therefore, for both of these reasons, you will want to manage your local listing at multiple local listing websites.
Waiting to consider your local business listing is not really an option. You will want to be an early adopter as quickly as possible.
SmartFinds Internet Marketing provides Local Business Listing Management Services and can not only help you claim your local business listing, but also, manage the ongoing maintenance at multiple local listing websites. Not only to help you update the listings with your information, but also with promotions, coupons, QR-Codes, offers, videos and photos.