Can you synchronize your online business listings on the cheap?


InsideCirclePicAn increasing number of services are coming on the scene offering to correct wrong addresses and business information across the zillions (okay, dozens) of free listings services across the internet.

For a small annual payment or a monthly fee, the services promise to synchronize your correct business name, address and phone number across the multiple sites where you may be missing or listed incorrectly.

Does this pay off? Is it too good to be true? Can you synchronize your online business listings on the cheap?

Well, the truth is, we at SiteInSight spends an awful lot of time and brainpower fixing people’s Google Places listings, or trying to make incorrect duplicate listings disappear. Many small business have big problems with online listings. Often a small business starts out in someone’s home, and they don’t want to list their home address, so they use a friend’s address or a post office box. This can cause problems later when they move to a real office.

We’ve seen business listings hanging around that show the business located at the home address of an employee who doesn’t even work at the company anymore. Well-meaning staff who are assigned to fix these listings often put their personal information in at the beginning if they don’t understand the process. Even worse, we’ve seen competing companies maliciously claim the business listings of their competitors, or use similar-company-name-confusion to their advantage.

And it’s easy to screw it up. On Yelp, for example, if you sign up for an account using the big obvious button at the top, you still can’t claim and edit your business information, even though it seems like you are doing that. You actually have to find a very difficult to discern link in the footer and click on something called “Unlocking a Business Account.”

It’s easy to see how these things get messed up.

When we work with customers, we are often on the phone with them, or having them drop off verification postcards at our front desk. We may have to sit with them and look through all the possible search strings for their company to find bad listings. We’ve taken out $5 ads in order to get the attention of customer service at Google so we could enlist professional help with some intractable problems. And we even (gasp) sit on hold on the real telephone to wait for customer service reps at these listings companies to help.

I have a hard time believing $50 per year will gain you the level of service you may need. It’s certainly better than nothing, but if you have a problem with your business listing that is bad enough to warrant enlisting help, an impersonal service on the West Coast is not going to help much.

In many cases, it’s not incorrect information, but a lower ranking in the search results or map results that is the problem. That requires some strategic work and knowledge of search algorithms and online listing policies to fix. So if you don’t have any big problems and you are just launching a business, it is definitely worth $50 to get listed on all the major business directories in one shot. But if you have actual problems that a monkey CAN’T fix, please enlist the help of a living, breathing professional in your local community.

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