In many ways, the web and internet act as a giant aggregator of information and data. For businesses big and small, this is often a fantastic way to have their information reach customers and gain leads. And whether those businesses put their information out there or not, there are hundreds of sites and apps scouring business listings, print phone book listings, business directories and more in order to give business info to searchers and users worldwide.
This type of information availability and aggregation is usually great for business owners who always want more traffic for their website and phone lines. But what happens when this information on other websites is incorrect? Or out of date?
This can present serious problems when the information is wrong or even misleading. It could be something as simple as misspelling a name, or totally mistaking facts about the brand. Neither of those are good.
So how does this happen, and what can businesses do about it? Let’s look at a few bits of info and fixes to those problems:
Business Listings & Directories
The Problem: Aggregation websites like YellowPages.com and Manta.com often cull the internet basic business information from across other resources (like maybe print directories, BBB, chamber of commerce records or large database warehouses like Acxiom.com). These can be great drivers of traffic, until they start giving users the wrong information.
The Fix: Fixing these issues can be as simple as contacting the website and (kindly, politely — remember, they don’t have to change it) asking for the information to be updated and corrected. There are also tools (like Moz Local, which is paid), that will automatically prompt these websites to update their information once the correct info has been entered.
Google Search Results (SERPs) & the Knowledge Graph
The Problem: Google itself is also an aggregate website, and their engineers go to great lengths to pull as much information as they possible can to show users who search for related topics. One thing Google has been doing for the last two years is showing drop downs of general information on important websites (see below). But sometimes this information is wrong or old.
The Fix: They key to information lining up correctly in Google is to have all social media profiles correct, up-to-date, and linked to the main website. Of course, Google+ and Google My Business (Google.com/mybusiness) page should be priorities here, since those are the ones Google controls. Owners should make sure a profile is created on Google for their business, and if not, they can request control. Owners can also find their business on Google Maps and click “edit” or “suggest edits”, or even claim and verify their business within Google+. This makes it much more likely that Google pulls the right info.
This can be extremely important for businesses who have a centralized headquarters, but still service a wide-ranging area. One of our clients, HCO Innovations (warehouse efficiency and fleet management tools), is located in Raleigh, but does not limit their service area to that geographical area and in fact they can work nationwide. It’s crucial for their profiles to indicate this. For instance, Triangle Criminal Defense Group chooses to use a Raleigh address since most of their traffic will identify with this search term, even if they live outside Raleigh, and the firm will work throughout the greater Triangle area.
Wikipedia and user-generated websites
The Problem: Some websites like Wikipedia don’t have a central control center — their content comes from anyone who signs into the website — and therefore there might be less help when needing to fix information. Of course, most small businesses won’t be on Wikipedia.org (a huge website!), but there are many similar websites that might have business information, or Google might be using them to get information on a business (like from Dmoz.org).
The Fix: The best way to go about fixing these problems is to research how the website is edited. Usually, it’s easy to learn how this website allows users to upload or edit content, and just about anyone will be able to make the necessary changes.
There’s also the curious cases of businesses that use non-local phone numbers, often for tracking or corporate branding purposes (especially for local businesses with national ties, like car dealers and auto dealerships). While there’s nothing architecturally or technically with having non-local numbers, search indexes can often index the wrong number, or even show a national 800 number when a local number is available. Westgate Chrysler Deep Dodge Ram in Raleigh and their division Westgate Preowned have attempted to fix this issue for several reasons. Not only can it improve their SEO (NAP), but it can help their local branding and user experience as well on aggregate websites.
There will always be misinformation on the web. But it doesn’t have to happen to your business. If you’re having issues with bad info on the web, especially in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, we’re here to help of course!