Welcome, my friends and students, to another edition of WebPunch’s School of Online Reputation Management. As always, I’m your professor, Matt Jones. Let’s talk about local listings and how your business is presented to the public when they are looking for them. There are a lot of things going on, this is kind of a potpourri episode, some highlights of certain things that have come up that you should know about as a business owner, so stay tuned.
Let’s talk number one: Google. It used to be that when you would create your Google listing, it would also be linked with your Google Plus listing, but that’s no longer the case. So if you have a Google My Business listing, you must go separately to create a Google Plus page for that, and I think the term is ‘apply’ for that right now. Make sure that you’re doing that so you get the greatest exposure on Google, and also be a part of Google’s social network. The other thing is when you have a Google My Business listing, it’s important to know that anyone with a Google account can go and update/edit your listing information. So it’s really, really important for you to go to your Google My Business dashboard to be able to see what kind of edits have been submitted by Google customers. Again, we’ve heard of some unscrupulous competitors going in and messing with their competition’s listing. Obviously, that’s unethical and a terrible thing to do, but you can make sure that you’re aware of any changes by logging into that dashboard regularly. Again, I think one of the things with local listings is that you can’t set it up and forget it, it’s one of those things that you have to constantly monitor because if your information is wrong and the public doesn’t know about it, they aren’t going to have the right information to contact you the right way, or know when your business is open, etc., which are big problems. The second reason is that it hurts your ranking on Google because they like to see information match on Google and other review sites. So, again, just make sure that there aren’t discrepancies so that Google knows that this is really the correct information.
One other thing we want to say is that listings on Yelp bleed into Bing, Business Portal, and also into Apple Maps. So if your information isn’t correct on Yelp, it’s also not going to be correct on Bing and Apple Maps. That’s one of the things you should know about local listings; all of these different directories that have different listings, a lot of them are bleeding into each other and feeding each other information, so even if you had information that is correct today, that doesn’t mean that you had different listing information that was different six years ago that might creep into this ecosystem and change things up for you. We have a team of people who manage this, and one time I stepped in for a few days to try and learn what they were doing and to understand the processes. Following all the listing information and making sure that it’s correct is mind-numbing, super tedious, and incredibly difficult work. So do yourself a favor and hire someone if you’re not competent or if you’re not going to pay attention to all the details, and go in and regularly check your listings to make sure that the information is correct. If you are doing it yourself and you’re doing a great job, God bless you, that is seriously hard work.
Another thing I want to say is that there are tracking numbers. Some of you want to see how well you’re doing with the campaigns, so you have a new product, a new service, you’re advertising it, and when you’re advertising it you’re saying, “Hey, let’s use a special phone number so we can see what kind of return we’re getting on this advertisement or product line. One of the things with these tracking numbers is that the phone number is going to be different from your main contact telephone number, so again, having that discrepancy is one of the things that Google doesn’t like to see. They want to see your name, address, and phone number all be correct across all the different directories where the public might be able to find you. Make sure that if you do use a tracking number, it’s possible that it can really hurt your ranking on Google because, again, they see a discrepancy between your tracking number and your actual phone number that people use to call you on a regular basis that you have on other listings throughout the internet.
Just know these are a lot of things that are really important to your business, but again, things change, and it’s important to stay on top of any details, and make sure that any past listings that you may have had are updated so that all information is correct, smooth, and consistent. I’m Matt Jones, and we’ll catch you next episode of WebPunch’s School of Online Reputation Management.