Are Your Local Business Listings Up To Date?
There’s no doubt that Google Places Local Business Listings are a fantastic way of raising your online visibility. Not only can it drive traffic to your website but also increase calls and foot traffic too.
Google takes into account a whole range of factors when deciding where to place your local business in the search results. On Google Places, one of the main factors in deciding your ranking is how many other sites are you listed on – known as citations.
But just as important, is your main information the same?
Joe Blogs and Sons Local Business, 123 My Way, My Town
is not the same as…
Joe Blogs Local Business, 123 My Way, My Town
Blogs Business Ltd, 123 My Way, My Town
Joe Blogs and Sons Local Business, 123 This Way, My Town
A human searcher would assume that these are in fact the same business. Google bots are not human. They look for matches and even small differences can affect your listing.
Changes to Google Places Local Business Listings
Recently Google made a major change to the local business listings. Google’s system will now automatically change your Places listing if it sources information about your business which may be more recent than info you have already provided.
“But now, if a user provides new information about a business they know — or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places — the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change.”
Additionally, search users can provide new information too.
It is rather worrying as this method can be open to abuse. Not only can people submit changes for consideration direct to Google, but also create listings on other sites and directories that may be picked up by the Places bot.
However, Google will email business owners about any changes made to your Places entry, so you can manually update your listing again.
What does this change to Google Places actually mean for you and your business?
It is important that your main business information is consistent across all of your local business listings. Your business name, address, telephone and website must be in the same format and spelled the same way.
If you do receive an email about the new change, it will request that you click edit and save your details – even if you have not made any changes to your listing – to ensure Google knows that the most up to date information is present.
Ideally, you will regularly update your Places listing anyway by adding new images, videos, and live “status” updates.
One of the issues I have with this update is any changes you make to your listing do not appear immediately. Google Places has been known to take weeks (if not months!) to register data changes.
Reading the Google announcement, it suggests that businesses will be informed AFTER the change. If the automatic update of information is not correct – whether from Google’s system or user triggered – just how long will businesses be waiting for the correct information to be re-registered and implemented?
Your guess is as good as mine!
However, researching more into these changes, what is happening right now is Google are emailing BEFORE the changes with the option dispute the change. This hasn’t really improved the situation as the support forums are flooded with questions from small business owners regarding changes that simply do not make sense.
The information that Google can and will change – business name, address including postcode, and the main telephone contact are not the easiest to adjust. To manually change this data requires a whole new verification process. Additionally, they are making changes to categories and map locations.
One thing that IS certain – local businesses will need to regularly maintain their local business listings and citation sources to try and avoid incorrect auto updates.
It goes without saying – get your business listed on as many online directories and review sites as possible. Claim your business listings before others do.
It’s well worth checking your details on other websites, particularly the main business directories and any specialist directories and ensuring your business information is consistent throughout. The video below shows how to use Google search to find sites that list your business.
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Don’t know where to start with local business listings?
Download your free guides by putting your name and email in the blue box below. Included are instructions for Google and Bing local business listings (UK) and a check list containing 20 popular general directories and review sites – no excuses, you can start today!Google Places Local Business Listings Recent Changes by Jan Kearney