Have you ever searched for an online business listing and found that the information is either out of date or even completely incorrect? This can be extremely annoying, especially if it is your business that is returning incongruent search results. An incorrect search listing can result in customer confusion and even a loss of potential sales.
For instance, if I wanted to order a pizza, I might start by searching Google for “best pizza near Balboa Park”. This would return a variety of results, all competing for my business. So I would pick the result that sounds best, like “Gino’s Sweet Pies”, but their telephone number that is listed is incorrect so chances are that I would just call the next pizza place in my Google search results instead of tracking down the actual number for Gino’s. In an instance like this, bad search information has negatively affected Gino’s sales.
Google search results that include incorrect information are more common than you may think. Just because a business owner registers his or her business with Google Places and adds their correct information to the database, does not mean that that information will be used. You may think, “Well that’s crazy. I’m the owner, and I am giving Google the correct info. They should use my information!” I completely agree with you, but let’s explore why that is not always the case.
How does Google get their information?
As a business owner you may have gone to your dashboard in Google Places and found that the business information there is not accurate. Whether you added different information than what is displayed or you even if you never added information to Google at all, Google will still provide information that it thinks is best.
How is this possible? Well, Google obtains its business information in a variety of ways, not just from the information the business provides on its own. Google draws its business listing information from seven areas:
- Google pays companies that specialize in compiling huge lists of marketing data for their business listing directories. The three major data companies that Google draws from are Infogroup, Neustar, and Axciom.
- Google also obtains information from smaller online directories, such as yp.com , yelp, citysearch…. just to name a few. In many cases Google will crawl these web directories and automatically add business information to its database.
- Google will look at government data that contains businesses information and add it to their directory. Any government information that can be accessed by searching the web will be crawled and indexed by Google.
- Surprisingly enough, Google also has the ability to generate business information from Google Street View. Business names and addresses can be extracted from the images that Google compiles.
- Google also employs human reviewers that sift through their data to help clarify any discrepancies within the data. These reviewers call businesses to verify their listings (be sure to take any call from Google but also be sure that the person is actually from Google because often times spammers use this as a tactic to generate leads. Google will never ask you to pay to update your information).
- Google also accepts information from other reviewers through Google Map Maker. Google Map Maker is a Google provided service where anyone can create listings for businesses (similar to Wikipedia for business locations).
- The business owner’s provided information is the last source, but it is just one of many sources that Google will use to generate a business listing.
As you can tell Google creates a huge pool of data about any given business. The search engines will do their best to use the most accurate information, but if there are a lot of inconsistencies it can confuse the search engines and in some cases they will begin aggregating incorrect data and associating it with your business.
How do I fix incorrect information?
Fixing incorrect information that appears in a Google search isn’t as easy as changing the information in your Google Places dashboard. It is going to take a little work, especially if there is a lot of conflicting information floating around the web about the business. Here are some good places to start:
- If you haven’t already, update Google Places with the correct business information.
- Google your business name and look for any mentions of your business on directory websites so you can ensure accuracy.
- Go to the major data aggregators (Infogroup, Neustar, and Axciom), and update your business information.
- Update your business information with the smaller directories such as yelp and yp.com.
- Update your information with government authorities.
- Check out Google Map Maker and see if your business information is correct.
Keeping an up to date and accurate business web profile can take a little work, but it is an essential part of remaining competitive in a search driven marketplace.
If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out our post about what we can expect from Google in the coming months “Expectations for Google Search in 2013”. The OrganikSEO team is passionate about helping businesses grow by tapping into the power of social media and SEO. To discuss how we can help you grow your business, contact us today!