Wrong Information is Bad for Business!

Why you need to verify your business info and how Cobalt Digital Marketing can help.

You’ve worked hard over the years to develop a reputation of quality products and premium customer service. You’ve taken the right steps to make sure that customer needs are met and your company innovative. You’ve fought tooth and nail to separate yourself from your local competition.

But even then, you might be overlooking a basic detail that can have a profound effect on your business—your online business listings.

If your sales are driven by local customers, then you need to make absolutely sure that your business listing info is correct. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, consider that just a few years ago, Placeable released a survey that found 73% of people lose trust in a local business when an online listing is incorrect.

Those listings are starting to look a lot more important now, aren’t they?

With 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device calling or going to that business within 24 hours, it’s a harsh reality that bad info means bad business.

Still not convinced that listing your business on leading sites like Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare, or Tripadvisor, is important? Consider this:

Getting to the Mountain Top

  1. Control your brand. Don’t be surprised to find your business on any online listings, even if you never requested it yourself. Know what that means? That you have an online reputation. And if you’re not in control of it, then who is? Claim your brand and your listings.
  1. Time to be a professional. Your online reputation can make you (or break you), so by verifying your listings and setting them up properly, you enhance your business’s professional look and customer appeal. This is especially important when you’ve just opened, purchased an existing business, or are in the process of building a website. Don’t let your competition have all the fun—get your listings verified and correct.
  1. Google it. Let’s be real, everybody uses Google (or almost everybody). As of August 2016, there were 34 billion monthly searches on Google in the US. With numbers like those, you need to have your listings verified on Google. When you do so, Google knows that the address is very likely to be accurate, so they place you in verified listings for local searches. This means that if someone is looking for a restaurant near you on Google, you’ll end up high on the search results. Not verified? Google is less likely to do so.
  1. 80% of internet users own a smartphone. Consumers are moving towards mobile searches, so verifying your company’s listings on mobile-friendly sites and apps will help to make you increasingly visible to millions upon millions of potential customers.
  1. You get to choose. Don’t let sites and apps choose what category your business should be listed under. When you verify your listings, you get to optimize and make edits to each listing, which can help you to stand out from the competition. Make sure your business address and contact information are correct on each site and app so people can find you easier.
  1. A smart choice at no fee. Gain visibility at essentially no cost to you. Most listing sites will allow you to claim and update your business information at little to no cost, which makes verification an easy and cost-effective marketing tool.
  1. Engage with your clients and potential customers. Apps like Yelp allow you upload pictures, create intriguing business descriptions, develop deals, and more, all while improving conversions and click through rates. At #SXSW17, we constantly heard about the importance of client engagement and authenticity—verification allows you to do just that.
  1. Spreading the word. Verification will get your name out across multiple platforms. The top non-paid search results for broad searches (such as those with only a city name and type of business) will often include listings on sites like YP.com, MapQuest, Angie’s List, and more.
  1. Don’t &*@! off your customers. Hell hath no fury like a customer scorned. Wrong business hours, old addresses, and the likes will definitely cost you customer trust. Avoid having bad reviews, social media coverage, and costly word-of-mouth negativity by claiming your business profiles on listing sites and makings sure all the correct information is put up.

If you’re not sure where to begin with claiming your online profiles and listings, don’t worry, Cobalt has you covered with that too.

What to Expect When Verifying

To begin, every online business index is going to have its own unique process when verifying your listing, but generally, they all have some similar steps that it’s best to familiarize yourself with.

  1. To begin with, most sites and apps will ask you to figure out whether or not your business is already in their index. You’ll usually have to enter your business name or phone number to discover any existing listings. Again, don’t be too amazed if you already exist in their database. Chances are you exist somewhere out there on the web.
  1. The next step will be to review any existing information that might be on their site/app. You’ll want to check for accuracy (and consistency across multiple platforms) by confirming your business name, address(es), phone number(s), website address, business categories, and other core details. Don’t forget that you want all this essential business information to be identical on all those online listings.
  1. The last step is what would really be the “verification” process. Again, every verification process from each individual entity is unique, but you typically see the verification happen in these ways:
  • Via a phone call and verification through a pin number
  • Via a traditional snail mail postcard and pin number verification
  • Via email

Time frames to complete the verification process vary from search engine to search engine and can last from a few days to a couple months. Regardless of the wait time, don’t make any changes to your information as this can cause problems to the process. Be patient and allow the procedure to work its course.

Future changes to core information may require re-verification, but you can usually edit things like business descriptions and photos without much hassle or the need to go through the process all over again.

Last, but not least, don’t get hoodwinked into purchasing “verification” reports from illegitimate online sources that’ll only take your money but offer no true benefits.

Instead, let Cobalt Digital Marketing help you to optimize your local online listings so that customers can find you and you can grow your clientele. Don’t settle for zero results.

Let us get your name out there so you can continue to grow and succeed.

Nice Try Google: SEO Strategies Google Gives That You Should NOT Listen To

Everybody and their mom knows SEO—or so they say.

How many supposed SEO experts have promised you a ranking on page one within a week? Never mind the fact that they’ll probably use keyword stuffing, black-hat SEO tactics, duplicate content, link building campaigns, and similar strategies that are all highly frowned upon.

Heck, even Google gives out some shoddy SEO advice from time to time, at least according to columnist Nate Dame. In a recent article published on SearchEngineLand.com, Dame gives an honest assessment of Google’s recommendations when hiring an SEO company, and accurately notes that Google is a business (just like you), so it’s important to be aware that they are going to act in a manner then benefits them first.

Now, this isn’t to say that an excellent SEO strategy involves completely ignoring Google’s best SEO practice statements, but simply, that a quality SEO business is going to take their advice with a grain of salt while still making informed decisions based on experience, up-to-date information, and experimentation.

So what should we consider from Dame’s article? Quite a bit…

#1. Nobody really sees the end of the SEO journey.

The internet is alive and evolving. What worked just last year, in terms of SEO marketing practices, won’t necessarily have the same impact this year. In other words, nobody really sees the end of the road, and adjustments have to be made accordingly.

The good folks at Google are smart enough to recognize, this as well, which means even they change features and services when things aren’t working like they expected.

For instance, Dame comments on a Google assertion from 2016 that said the search engine company was going to start penalizing sites for having intrusive interstitials. Fair enough. Except it hasn’t actually happened.

Suffice to say, they’re either waiting for some reason, or they simply changed their priorities.

Understandably, Google’s prerogatives are Google’s prerogatives, and sometimes your SEO choices have to be your SEO choices. Be informed and make decisions using a wide field of sources and expert information—don’t feel obliged to only abide by what Google says.

And if you’re running business, you have to be willing to hire an SEO company that isn’t afraid to take chances and follow what they know to be right. Plus, everybody loves a rebel. (And sometimes the rebel does it just right.)

#2. Google doesn’t always tells us the entire truth.

Is Google becoming a teenager who only tells half-truths? Maybe.

Google Analytics and Search Console are still exceedingly valuable tools when it comes to better understanding data to help you make informed SEO decisions. But be aware that Google has gotten into a habit of providing incomplete data.

Dame refers to a study published on Moz that found some inconsistencies in the manner in which Google Search Console worked, with author Russ Jones stating, “Google Search Console provides a great deal of invaluable data…[however] we should remain skeptical of this data, like any data source, and continue to test it for both internal and external validity.”

 

Ideally, your SEO company is using a variation of analytics tools and resources to ensure that they are obtaining the most pertinent data to make the best choices for your site. (Some third-party SEO tools can be found here).

Or we can consider it like this. If Google is willing to help us to see half of the picture, as an SEO company, we need to have the skills and gumption to develop the other half of the image for our clients. That is what a solid partner would do at least.

Is your SEO partner doing this for you?

#3. Sorry to break the news but…Google is a business.

Any digital marketing firm worth their chops knows that UX is the goal. Google does an excellent job of reminding those of us in the SEO world that their updates and decisions are based on the seemingly big-hearted goal of giving the people what they want—websites that are easy (and dare we say fun) to use.

Doesn’t the thought of such a loving search engine company just warm your heart? Well, just as a friendly reminder (and it’s no knock on Google) but they are a for-profit company.

It’s no secret that Google is the internet behemoth. In 2016, the company was expected to take in 11.3% of the market share, and in the first quarter of 2015, took in a whopping $17.3 billion with $15.5 billion coming from advertising sales.

Google’s paid ad space is gaining a bigger portion of real estate on search results pages, and are the advertisements are beginning to harm organic search results (i.e. businesses like yours). There’s also an aesthetic change to the labels, making them look more like earned results rather than what they really are—ads.

From organic page one results being reduced from 10 links to a current average of 8.5, and Google services overtaking previously ranked travel and shopping sites, to Google carousels resulting in users seeing more ads, it’s a bit of an eye opener to recognize that not everything Google recommends (or does) is in your website’s best interest.

Of course, this all stems from the realization that Google is a business and has the right to act in the manner that best implements its business model. Thus, when working with SEO company, they should bear in mind that Google’s recommendations should be deservedly noted—but not blindly followed.

#4. Google is still king and SEO is alive and breathing.

We’ve said it before, SEO is not dead. And Google is still the place to be seen.

The fact remains that Google search queries see an average of 40,000 searches per second. And if you ask around, Google is seeing an estimated 1.2 to 2 TRILLION searches per year worldwide (Google hasn’t given an official count themselves just yet). So don’t quit Google just yet.

When it’s all said in done, and your company is looking to hire an SEO expert, you need to do ensure that they are capable of implementing up-to-date SEO strategies that can keep you competitive and ranking.

If it’s a forward thinking digital marketing strategy, you might not always see everything align perfectly with Google recommendations, but that’s ok.

Trailblazers don’t just follow leaders blindly. They research, they dedicate time, they work furiously, and they innovate. They recognize that UX drives SEO and SEO drives sales.

If you’re looking for SEO experts that know all about Google, and then some, then look no further than Cobalt Digital Marketing. Our team of SEO experts, digital marketers, content curators, social media butterflies, and business strategist know what you need and how to get there.

Contact Cobalt today at (866) 224-5705. Today it’s Google. Tomorrow it’s the world!