What do online directories say about your company?

Summary:Close to half of small businesses recently surveyed by Constant Contact haven't bothered to update the information about their company that's available online, which could be a big mistake.

What does the information available about your small business out on the public Internet say about your company? Apparently, for at least half of you reading this column, those details might not be entirely up-to-date or accurate, according to a recent survey from SinglePlatform, which is a division on online marketing company Constant Contact.

While most of the surveyed local businesses know intuitively that printed directories don't cut it anymore, because most consumers search for services or restaurants or other things via their computer or mobile device, 49 percent of the respondents hadn't updated the listings available online in search engines or on review sites.

In contrast, 85 percent of the respondents believe it's important to be seen on major search sites including Google, Yahoo!, TripAdvisor, Yelp or Yellow Pages.

How many times have you personally looked up a company, traveled to their location and discovered that is has moved or is no longer in business? And, how does it make you feel about that business? Right, that's what I thought. So, this is definitely something that should be a priority for your marketing team?

"Consumers are using the Internet as a discovery engine and the opportunity for a local business to be found by their next great customer continues to grow," said Wiley Cerilli, vice president and general manager of SinglePlatform. "It is important for small businesses to list their products, services, and menus across the sites that consumers use to make their purchasing decisions. Equally important in today's mobile world is making sure your online content like Web sites and digital storefronts can be viewed on mobile devices."

But there's a big disconnect. Here are some other findings:

  • Only 25 percent of small businesses know how to create a mobile optimized Web site.
  • 70 percent say they don't have the time to manage all their listings.
  • Just 23 percent have a good sense of how listings drive traffic to their business.

SinglePlatform, of course, would love small businesses to consider its services as a way to help with this. It has relationships with more than 100 publishers, including three of the top business directory sites and three of the top reviews/rating sites. The idea is to let small businesses update their information in one place, making it available in multiple locations.

If your business isn't necessarily consumer-facing, BizShark recently launched a new business contact search platform that might be of interest. The platform includes a database of more than 40 million contacts and 14 million company listings that is searchable by individual or company name. It's compiled from SEC filings, government recrods, public directories, business sites and so one (another case for making sure you're on top of your online information). You can use a limited version of the service for free, but in order to download more detailed information, you'll have to purchase a premium service starting at $19.99 per month.

Topics: SMBs


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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