Local Business Listings That Refuse to Die

I’ve talked before about the importance of the local search results for small businesses who primarily work with customers in a geographic area that is near them. Those posts are a little dated, but help articulate the value of local search for small business owners:

  • Google Local Search Result for 'Pizza'The local results have gotten more prominence, particularly on Google.
  • Search engines (and other directories) get this information in one of two ways: 1) you provide it to them, or 2) they pull it from other sources like InfoUSA, Localeze, and YellowPages.com.
  • As a business owner (or a representative of), you should ‘claim’ your listing, which allows you to edit the information, add photos and videos, and more.

Proliferation – Your Data’s Like Bunnies
I previously owned a franchise of a national Internet marketing company. I subsequently dissolved my relationship with that firm and struck out on my own, focusing on small business Internet marketing consulting in Central Florida.

However, the information connecting me to that franchise name lives on, despite the fact that I’d done what I thought needed to be done to remove it.

I only found this out today when someone used Google Maps to look up my address, and then got confused because it listed the old business name. I did a search on my address and discovered – much to my chagrin – that the information I’d thought I’d wiped out had actually proliferated while I wasn’t paying attention.

The Ever-Reaching Tentacles of the Interwebs
Fixing this issue requires first understanding how the search engines are getting the information for those local results in the first place. Essentially, they obtain (and display) information about your business in one of two ways: 1) you give it to them or 2) they pull it from a variety of data sources.

Search Engine Land has a good (albeit a little dated) overview of how local search works.

Since I’d claimed and then subsequently deleted my listings from the major search engines, I hoped that would effectively remove my listings there. The problem is that that the data wasn’t removed from all the other places it appears, and the engines eventually pulled it back in.

What Next?
I’ve already notified Google that the Place no longer exists. (I’m hoping they don’t also delete my current business, which is at the same address. Fortunately, the phone numbers are not the same, so I’m cautiously optimistic that they’ll recognize them as separate entities.)

I’m going to gradually go through all the other sources that have data for the old business and try to modify it so it reflects my new business or have it removed. I’ll be documenting my efforts and posting the outcomes in a future post, so stay tuned!

What Is An SEO Website Anyway?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of those buzzwords that many business owners have heard, some vaguely understand, but few really know how to implement — or even know how to make a decision about hiring someone to implement. It’s become almost standard for prospective clients to ask us if we ‘do SEO’, yet the reality of it is that most of those folks don’t really know what they’re asking.

And, to be honest, if often makes me cringe when a small business wants to optimize their site. [Read more...]