The Competitive Edge I April 2020 I Issue 3
While many small businesses have had to temporarily close their doors due to COVID-19, now is a great time for business owners to take a look at their online business listings, fix inaccuracies, and optimize them to grow their business.
In the old days, businesses did their advertising in the local Yellow Pages. They had complete control over the information in their listing, making certain location and contact information were correct. Today, consumers are searching for businesses digitally. Did you know that there are more than 70 online directories where consumers can search to learn more about your business? Many of these sites allow users to leave reviews. Sites such as Yahoo, Google, Yelp, Bing, and Alexa/Echo are go-to sources for potential customers. Do you know what people are saying about your business across multiple platforms? Are you certain the information these platforms are giving potential consumers is correct? In many cases, the information is inaccurate which is bad for your business.
So how strong is an online search? Pretty darn strong. 50% of local searches on mobile devices results in a visit within 24 hours. 91% of consumers regularly read online reviews. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 87% of people will only use a business with a rating of 3 or more stars. 74% of consumers trust a positive online review. 59% of consumers will look at 2-3 different review sites before making a decision. Not to mention it’s said 1 negative comment can cost you up to 30 customers. So, in other words, how your brand is reflected online is a big deal. But there are a couple of problems to be concerned about when it comes to business listings:
- Incorrect listings can cost you business: Often times, if you’re not the one creating your business listings, these online directories pull your business information from various sources. Information such as location and phone number might be wrong. Someone finds you, calls the wrong number, you’ve lost that business. Listing errors reflect poorly on a business so it’s very important to make sure your listings are accurate. Take the time to search for your business online and find what the various profiles are telling your potential customer.
- Reviews need to be acknowledged: A large number of business directories offer review options. Business owners need to be on top of the reviews that are being left for them online. Online reviews are basically a digital word of mouth. If someone is talking negatively about your business online, you need to be aware of it for a couple of reasons. One, it offers you a chance to see what is working in your business as well as what is not working, and to make changes as needed. Two, it gives you an opportunity to save an existing relationship by acknowledging the negative review and, potentially, offering to fix the situation. Remember, the two most important words to remember when it comes to bad reviews is REACT and RESPOND.
So first things first, you need to find out how your business is being presented online. One quick and easy way to do this is to go to smallbusinessyahoo.com/local and enter your business name and address information. Yahoo Small Business will do a quick scan of all of the directories and show you the inaccuracies that exist. Yahoo Small Business offers a great service called Localworks. Localworks helps make sure that your info is accurate across all platforms. It is a paid service so, depending on how important online searches and reviews are to your business, you might want to consider it. A standard account runs about $24/month while a premium account runs about $34/month. The standard version of Localworks allows you to make sure all of your information is accurate, add product categories for better keyword use and optimization, and push out promotional messages to all of the directories at once (aka free advertising). You’ll be presented with a dashboard called the Knowledge Manager. Through this dashboard you can add details, correct inaccurate information, add photos, and add categories and subcategories which is a HUGE help in voice searches. From this dashboard, you can monitor and respond to reviews. The premium option includes everything in the standard account plus allows you to compare your business listing with your competitors, identifies keywords, allows you to post reviews directly to your website, and allows you to respond directly to a review from the dashboard. If this high level of control is something that you think your business can benefit from, purchasing a service such as Localworks might be worth the expense. To be honest, it’s probably worth it for most every business. If you save one client relationship from inaccurate information or a bad review, small business owners know the worth of that is priceless.
Making sure your online presence best reflects your brand and staying on top of reviews is a great way to grow your business while controlling how your brand is seen online. If you find you need help claiming your business listings, let me know. I often work with clients helping them claim and set up their business listings on some of the most searched directories such as Google, Bing, and Yelp. Once you have better control over how your business looks online, you’ll be able to gain new customers and grow your business the minute your doors open again!