New Services Help Small Businesses Get Found Online
Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, yada yada, ad infinitum. The task of optimizing your business's search results and updating your listings with search engines, directories, and review sites to help people find you online may seem like a never-ending chore. A new service called Get Found, run by domain registrar GoDaddy, aims to solve that dilemma, especially when any of your business's key information changes. A similar service from Yext and a number of other providers is also available.
When your business moves, for example, much of its critical information gets lost online — even if you update your key listings and your website. For example, my wife's Pilates studio lost five years' worth of Yelp reviews after changing locations. That’s because your business's former data is interpreted by search engines as being the most successful search result over time. Your new address and phone number have little or no history and are therefore considered by search engine algorithms to be less relevant than the older results. While these services don't solve the problem immediately, they make the ultimate resolution easier by updating multiple sites simultaneously instead of forcing business owners to do the updates themselves site by site, including on sites owners may not even be aware are listing them.
Weighing the Costs
That misinformation can cost you dearly. Industry research shows that U.S. businesses lose $10 billion a year as a result of missing or incorrect information about them online.
Problems occur more often than you may think. According to a joint study published by Yext and internet analysts Andrew Shotland and Greg Sterling, about 15 percent of businesses aren’t even listed on some or all of the major search engines. Just under 20 percent have an incorrect phone number listed or have their website URL missing, and about 40 percent have their name or address listed incorrectly.
The services, which range in price from about $5 to $85 per month, automatically update key information, including address, phone number, service offerings, and hours of operation across multiple platforms. These include Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Citysearch, and OpenTable. Roughly 50 services in total are updated simultaneously.
Business owners complete a short form whenever their information changes and the business information management services the rest, updating the various websites relevant to that business. (For example, a shoe store would not need to be updated on OpenTable, a restaurant locator and reservation system.)
It’s not that you can’t do this yourself. The question you should ask is, Will the time and effort you’d spend maintaining accurate information across existing and emerging platforms cost you more than one of these services? Consider, too, that these services may cost you less than a single lost customer.
Dave Clarke is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.