Why Business Listing Accuracy is Important
Business Name. Address. Phone number. These 3 – jointly called as “NAP” – are the holy trinity of information.
Your business name, address and phone number are of utmost importance for those who may plan to buy from your physical store or those who may want to contact your office prior to visiting your store.
An example of a business listing or business directory is Google My Business – a free business listing or directory offered by Google. This business directory integrates 3 Google products: Google Maps, Google Search and Google +. It allows consumers to find your business or organization’s contact details. It also shows your customers how to get to your store or office with its travel directions for a variety of transportation modes.
Benefits of Accurate Business Listings
Based on the Google-Oxera study (PDF), accurate business listings result in the following:
1. It can help your organization’s online reputation.
The Google-Oxera study showed that businesses whose listings are verified, specifically on Google My Business, are twice as likely to be considered “reputable” by consumers.
2. It saves time.
The Google-Oxera study revealed that consumers save 0.74 minutes per record when they see a verified business listing. The study estimates this time-saving consequence to be worth around $9 for each consumer over a year for every type of business they locate using Google.
3. It increases homepage clickthroughs.
The Google-Oxera further found that accurate business listing produces more consumers’ online activity. The study found that accurate business details generate at least 30% increase in homepage clickthroughs.
Prevalence of Inaccurate Basic Business Information
Inaccurate business names, addresses and phone numbers are prevalent on the internet. A Yext survey revealed that 65% of large businesses in the UK have incorrect addresses listed online. This problem isn’t limited to large businesses, as 67% of smaller businesses have incorrect addresses listed online. The inaccurate information doesn't stop there, according to Yext, as 33% of large organizations in the UK list incorrect phone numbers, and 61% of small businesses face the same problem.
A Mediative and Placeable (PDF) report showed that 80% of Canada's top retailers have inconsistent, inaccurate or missing basic business information online.
Negative Effects of Inaccurate Business Listings
1. Inaccurate business listings can drive away customers and contacts.
A Google and Ipsos MORI survey (PDF) revealed that 4 in 5 smartphone and computer/tablet users conduct local searches on search engines, specifically about local store address, directions to the local store and business hours.
The survey further revealed that 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within 24 hours, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. Despite the growth of online retail, therefore, the truth remains that offline spending on products and services aren’t losing ground.
Imagine a customer driving all the way to your supposed store address, only to find a notice that you’ve moved to a new address or said customer simply can’t locate your store as it’s the wrong address. Or picture a customer, who after finding your organization’s phone number online, contacts you with this number and said customer can’t contact your company because that number is an old one or the number is simply wrong.
The responses for these two scenarios are immediate: inaccurate address and phone number drive away would-be customers and contacts. Even your existing customers will turn their backs against your business if you don’t update your new address or phone number.
2. Inaccurate business listings result in financial losses.
According to the Mediative and Placeable report, if 5% or 100 branches of a 2,000-branch home improvement store with $57 average daily ticket, 5,000 local searches a month and a 1% click-through rate (CTR) have inaccurate phone numbers, it could mean an annual loss in revenue of $1.6M from customers who opt to shop elsewhere.
3. Inaccurate business listings can do damage to your business’ search engine optimization (SEO).
According to Moz’ 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, the following inaccurate and missing business data negatively impacts your business’ SEO:
If search engines notice that your organization has incorrect and conflicting business addresses and phone numbers, your organization’s website is less likely to rank high on search results. The reason for this demotion is that search engines are simply trying to protect their reputation as well. If their search results show incorrect and misleading information, their customers would similarly leave them.
"Inadequate syndication of location data across the third party ecosystem leads to poor placement in search engine results and the loss of online site visits," the Mediative and Placeable report said.
The following factors are responsible for basic business data inaccuracies:
1. Change in Location and Phone Number
Inaccuracies of location and phone number can stem from a recent transfer to a new address or a change of phone number.
2. Typo Error
Many inaccurate business addresses and phone numbers are the results of typo error or mistakes in typing the words or numbers.
3. Substantial Number of Business Addresses and Phone Numbers
Specifically for large organizations – those with hundreds and even thousands of branches, manually ensuring that addresses and phone numbers are accurate can be burdensome.
4. Substantial Number of Business Listings
In today’s digital economy, your business name, address and phone number don’t appear on one site alone. Depending on your location and type of business, your organization may have to deal with hundreds of business listings within niche based categories. New sites could also pop-up anytime and existing sites could get your business name, address and phone number from several sources.
5. Lack of Time to Claim and Regularly Update Business Listings
Claiming a business listing like Google My Business takes time. Aside from Google My Business, there are other business listings that are equally as important like Bing Local, Facebook, Apple Maps and TripAdvisor.
Connect with us today and we will show a simple, automated way to keep your listings up-to-date, attract new customer, and win against competition.
How to Remove Your Sensitive Personal Information from Search Engine
There are things in our past that we would rather forget like an ugly divorce proceeding and personal bankruptcy.
Canadians were taunted about their ugly past when the Romanian website Globe24h.com republished the Canadian court and tribunal decisions that are also available on Canadian legal website CanLII.org.
Unlike CanLII – a non-profit organization created and funded by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada – which doesn’t index its web content for search engines, Globe24h allows search engines to find its web content. Because of the indexing of the Globe24h content, personal information like full names, children’s names and other sensitive data of a number of Canadians appeared prominently on search engine results.
Forty-nine Canadians complained against Globe24h from October 2013 to April 2016 before the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. While the complainants understood that the court and tribunal decisions would be published somewhere for record purposes and to aid the courts and legal profession in understanding the development and application of the law, they didn’t understand why these decisions would appear as a result of a casual search on a search engine like Google.
In January this year, the Federal Court of Canada ordered the owner of Globe24h to remove all Canadian court and tribunal decisions containing personal information and “take the necessary steps to remove these decisions from search engines caches”.
The court ruled that the claim “to make law accessible for free on the Internet” by the owner of Globe24h can’t be considered journalistic as the owner “adds no value to the publication by way of commentary, additional information or analysis”. Globe24h has ceased operation since then.
Right to be Forgotten
Google.com was registered on September 15, 1997. In its close to 20 years of existence, it has become the world’s most popular search engine. Seeing your tense divorce proceeding, with personal details, including the names and birth dates of your children on search engine results is understandably a disturbing experience.
In 2010, a Spanish national filed a complaint against a Spanish newspaper, Google Spain and Google, Inc., asking the three entities to remove the data relating to his personal bankruptcy case as this had been fully resolved for a number of years and, therefore, any reference to the case was entirely irrelevant.
On May 13, 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (PDF) ruled in a landmark decision popularly called “Right to be Forgotten” that citizens in EU countries have the right to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them. The court clarified that the right to be forgotten isn’t absolute and should be balanced against other fundamental rights, including freedom of expression.
The EU Court’s decision leaves the responsibility to search engines to assess case by case the sensitivity of the data in question to the individual's private life and the interest of the public to access such information.
The right to be forgotten is accurately defined as "a right to be delisted from search results” by Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Google in a blog post dated May 19, 2016. According to Walker, across Europe, Google reviewed nearly 1.5 million webpages and delisted around 40%.
Another case is pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union, this time, asking Google not only to delist certain webpages from Google’s search engine results in one particular country but also in every country in the world. Google opposes the worldwide application of the right to be forgotten.
"For hundreds of years, it has been an accepted rule of law that one country should not have the right to impose its rules on the citizens of other countries,” Walker said. “As a company that operates globally, we work hard to respect these differences.”
While the question of whether the right to be forgotten should be applied worldwide with regards to requests from EU citizens is still pending before the EU Court, the Supreme Court of Canada already ruled on the question of worldwide delisting of webpages from search results.
In a decision dated June 28, 2017, the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to globally de-index websites of the company named only as “D”. The case arises from the patent dispute between D and another company named “E”. D and its representatives have ignored all previous court orders made against them, left Canada and operate their business in unknown locations.
“D is only able to survive – at the expense of E’s survival – on Google’s search engine which directs potential customers to D’s websites,” Justice Abella, writing for the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, said. “This makes Google the determinative player in allowing the harm to occur.”
In their dissenting opinion, Justices Côté and Rowe said that the order against Google to de-list the websites of D is rendered ineffective as D launches new websites to replace de-listed ones. "Courts should avoid granting injunctions that require such cumbersome court-supervised updating,” Justices Côté and Rowe said.
Canadian citizens can request Google to remove sensitive information from its search engine results. As a rule, the search engine giant will remove child sexual abuse imagery. It’ll also remove content in response to valid legal requests such as copyright notifications.
On a case-to-case basis, according to Google, it may remove personal information after asking the following questions:
Google also recommends contacting the website owner. “Even if Google deletes the site or image from our search results, the webpage still exists and can be found through the URL to the site, social media sharing, or other search engines,” the search engine giant said.
The company added that it usually doesn’t remove content that can be found on official government websites as the data is already publicly available.
Online Reviews: Digital Era’s New Social Proof
Major brands have used the “crowd” as a marketing pull. In 1962, record label company RCA renamed Elvis Presley's ninth album “Elvis' Gold Records, Volume 2” to “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong”. In 1955, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's franchise with the sign “We have sold over 1 million”.
Social Proof Concept
“The principle of social proof states that one important means that people use to decide what to believe or how to act in a situation is to look at what other people are believing or doing there,” said Robert Cialdini in his work “Influence: Science and Practice”.
There's a wealth of evidence that shows people mimicking others in an unconscious way. You may not notice, for instance, you’ve acquired the speech inflections or idiosyncratic verbal expressions of your friend. If you see a large number of people staring at the sky, you're likely to do the same. Or you may not notice crossing your arms while talking to a person who also crosses his or her arms while talking to you.
“Powerful imitative effects have been found among both children and adults and in such diverse activities as purchase decisions, charity donations, and phobia remission,” Cialdini said. Social proof, he said, is most persuasive in these two conditions:
When a person is undecided or when the circumstance is unclear, such person is likely to mimic the action of others and to assume that such action as appropriate. According to Cialdini, a crowd is unlikely to help a person – even if that person genuinely is in need of help – when they perceive that the need for emergency aid is unclear.
A person is more likely to mimic the action of others with the same background. A 1968 study found that New York residents were more likely to return a lost wallet after learning that another New Yorker had previously tried to do so. The 1968 study also found that knowledge that another person – a foreigner – tried to return the wallet, had no effect on the New Yorkers’ decision.
Social Proof in the Digital Era
In today’s digital era, many people rely on online reviews as their social proof. A 2015 BrightLocal study found that 92% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
Google reviews are examples of online reviews. “Reviews on Google provide valuable information about your business to both you and your customers. Business reviews appear next to your listing in Maps and Search, and can help your business stand out on Google,” the search engine giant said.
As the new social proof, online reviews work best under the following conditions:
1. Product Uncertainty
Online reviews are persuasive for online consumers as they are more likely to be uncertain about the product quality compared to offline consumers. According to the study “User reviews and uncertainty assessment: A two stage model of consumers' willingness-to-pay in online markets”, an offline customer, for instance, can assess and verify the product quality in the seller’s store or physical settings. An online customer, on the other hand, has limited information and must actively search online to check the product quality
Implication to Your Company:
If your company has a limited budget to market your product in physical settings or other online platforms, online reviews can boost your company’s online visibility and ease the uncertainty that clouds the minds of your would-be customers.
2. Seller Uncertainty
The “User reviews and uncertainty assessment” study added that the uncertainty faced by online customers isn’t limited to the product alone. “While purchase uncertainty in offline markets is primarily in product alone, purchase uncertainty in online markets is related to both products and sellers,” the study noted. “As such, consumers not only evaluate various products in a category to assess product uncertainty as they do in offline markets, but also evaluate different sellers to mitigate seller uncertainty which they do not in offline markets.”
Implication to Your Company:
If your company is new or not well-known due lack of marketing efforts and funds, online reviews are your organization’s chance of being known to the public.
3. Affinity to Online Reviewers
A study by Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center and PowerReviews (PDF) found that reviews from verified customers – those who purchased the product – are perceived as more credible and have a greater impact on sales.
The Spiegel Digital and PowerReviews study analyzed 65,000 reviews from verified buyers and 57,000 reviews from anonymous consumers for about 13,500 unique products from different categories, including health, beauty, home, garden and electronics.
The study found that purchase likelihood increases by 15% when consumers are exposed to online reviews written by verified buyers as opposed to anonymous reviewers. “This suggests that reviews written by those with direct experience using a product are considered more credible and trustworthy,” researchers from Spiegel Digital and PowerReviews said.
Implication to Your Company:
As online reviews from verified customers are perceived as more credible than anonymous reviewers, it makes sense to encourage your past customers to provide online reviews for your products or services offered by your organization.
4. High Number of Reviewers
The study “Online Customer Reviews of Hotels: As Participation Increases, Better Evaluation Is Obtained”, which analyzed online reviews of 16,680 hotels in 249 tourist areas; found that early reviews of a business tend to be slightly negative. As the number of reviews increases, the study found that positive reviews mitigate the effects of negative reviews, as positive comments are more common than negative reviews.
Implication to Your Company:
According to the “Online Customer Reviews of Hotels” study, “Whether or not hotels actively respond to negative reviews, one implication of this study is that hoteliers should try to increase the number of reviews they receive to balance the positive and negative representations of their property (in addition to investigating and correcting the causes of negative comments).”
It’s important, therefore, for your organization to provide your past customers easy access to customer review sites to mitigate negative reviews.
We offer an easy to use online review platform that virtually runs on autopilot. Better yet, we can help you manage online reviews as we have for our happy customers. Connect with us today to learn more, and solidify your online presence.
4 Benefits of Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations
Social Media Evolution
Social Media Evolution
There was a time in history when social media was considered as only useful to a certain demographic. Remember Myspace or Friendster?
Over the years, accessibility and the desire to feel connected with people with similar backgrounds and interests give rise to the growth of tech giants like Facebook, enabling social media to evolve into a platform that appeals to the masses.
According to statistics portal Statista, Facebook – the social media platform founded in 2004 – currently sits as the number one social network with 2.05 billion monthly active users as of August 2017. The statistics portal, meanwhile, reported that the number of Facebook users in Canada reached 18.2 million in 2016. This number is projected to grow to 19.6 million in 2020.
YouTube, the video-sharing platform owned by Google, is the second most popular social networking site with 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide as of August 2017 according to Statista. Photo-sharing platform Instagram sits at 7th place with 700 million monthly active users as of August 2017; blogging service Tumblr sits at 9th place with 357 million active monthly users and microblogging service Twitter sits at 10th place with 328 million active monthly users.
Nonprofits and charities are the early adopters of social media. The 2010 study conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson of Financial Insite Inc. revealed that charitable organizations in the US outpaced the business world and academia in their social media use. The study showed that 93% of the top US charities have a Facebook profile, 87% have a Twitter presence and 65% have a blog.
The study called “2016 Global NGO Online Technology Report” (PDF) by Public Interest Registry and Nonprofit Tech for Good showed that nonprofits and charities in North America have been the early adopters of social media. As of 2016, according to the study, 97% of nonprofit organizations have a Facebook page; 85% have a Twitter profile; 71% have a LinkedIn profile; 63% have a YouTube account and 46% have an Instagram profile.
The Public Interest Registry and Nonprofit Tech for Good study also found that 34% of nonprofit organizations in North America assign the social media management responsibility to development, program, administrative, and/or executive staff; 33% assign the responsibility to a communications staff person; 27% depend on a full-time or part-time social media manager and 6% depend upon volunteers.
March of Dimes is an example of a nonprofit organization that leverages the use of social media. It has a presence on several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
Here are 4 benefits of using social media for the nonprofit organization that you run:
1. Venue to Engage Your Organization’s Current Supporters
Social media platforms are good venues to have meaningful conversation with your existing donors, volunteers and members. Start the conversion with them by sharing real stories about successful projects or the people that your organization helped.
The 2013 Millennial Impact Report (PDF) by the Case Foundation found that more than 60% of the millennials (born between the years 1979-1994) like it most when nonprofits share stories about successful projects or the people they help. The study also found that 75% of millennials like, retweet or share content on social media.
Another way to strike a conversation with your current supporters is by posting content that educates the public about the issues your organization addresses. For instance, your organization can share links to studies or news stories that support your organization’s mission. Real and educational stories that your organization posts allow your donors, volunteers and members to converse with your organization as well as converse with each other.
2. Venue to Increase Supporters
Social media is a good venue to grow your organization’s supporters, also known as “friend-raising”.
A study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (PDF) found that “slacktivists”, popularly referred to as individuals who passively “Like” causes on Facebook but are not truly engaged, “may be more active – and valuable – than previously thought.”
The Georgetown University and Ogilvy study found that individuals who “Like” causes on Facebook are more likely than non-social media promoters to participate in the following key activities:
“The presumption was that these individuals [slacktivists] were replacing more ‘meaningful’ actions with simple clicks and shares,” said Denise Keyes, Senior Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Center for Social Impact Communication. “But what we found is that they’re actually supplementing – not replacing – actions like donating, volunteering and planning events.”
“The key takeaway is that many of the activities that slacktivists are more likely to undertake have this element of influence,” said Jennifer Wayman, Executive Vice President and Director of Social Marketing at Ogilvy Washington. “They are more likely to share what they’re doing with their networks, and there’s real value inherent in these relatively small actions that should not be underestimated.”
3. Venue for Fundraising
It’s inappropriate to bombard your social media supporters with constant postings about your organization’s fundraising campaigns. Occasionally though, it’s proper to do so some fundraising activities via your organization’s social media platforms. It’s important to supplement these online fundraising campaigns with non-online fundraising activities.
4. Venue for Call to Action/Community Organizing
Social media is an effective tool to mobilize individuals to volunteer or take part in an event. On February 12, 2009, the Twestival (Twitter + festival) – serving both as a fundraising activity and call to action – brought together Twitter users to raise money for the global water crisis. The activity was able to raise over $250,000 and brought worldwide public awareness about the global water crisis issue.
SEO vs. PPC: Which Digital Marketing Strategy is Right for Your Organization?
SEO or PPC? Many organizations are conflicted which of these two approaches is the best way to stay competitive and relevant in today’s digital world. Let’s take a look at the nature and pros and cons of each approach.
Competitive Digital World
The world economy is becoming ever more digital. Seventy-five percent of businesses in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (PDF) area in 2015, including 35 countries from North and South America to Europe and Asia-Pacific, have an online presence.
With the majority of businesses now having an online presence, what are the chances that your company’s website will rank high in Google’s search engine results?
The Nature of SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It refers to the measures undertaken to make your website obtain a high-ranking placement in search results.
Data from Statista showed that bulk of the search engine market share in Canada as of April 2017 went to Google (with 61.59% searches), followed by Bing (21.34%), Ask (12.2%), Yahoo (3.05%) and Other (1.83%).
Every search engine has its own criteria on how to rank billions of websites around the world. The criteria for ranking websites are kept secret by companies such as Google, Microsoft (owner of Bing search engine) and Yahoo to prevent the public from manipulating the search engine results. As of today, Google, for instance, has over 200 criteria to rank a website.
For being the most popular search engine, manipulators descended upon Google to sway the search results. The term “blackhat” SEO was born as a result. Google defines blackhat SEO as “Illicit techniques that manipulate search engines to try to rank a site higher”.
The following techniques are considered as blackhat SEO by Google:
The use of blackhat SEO can ruin your site and your online reputation. Once Google determines that you’re using blackhat techniques, it may remove your site from the Google index or demote your site.
Google, meanwhile, allows website owners to optimize their website to rank high in the search giant’s results by using “whitehat” SEO techniques. The search engine giant defines whitehat SEO as legitimate “techniques aim to improve a site by focusing on the visitors instead of on ranking higher”.
Creating high-quality content on your site is considered by Google as whitehat SEO. The use of keywords in your content is encouraged in order for internet users to find what your organization is offering. What’s prohibited is the use of too many keywords, especially those that are out of context.
The Nature of PPC
PPC stands for pay-per-click. It’s an internet marketing tool in which an advertiser pays a certain amount of money every time a user clicks on an online ad. The top search engine companies – Google, Microsoft and Yahoo – each have their own PPC program.
Google, being the dominant search engine, is also the dominant PPC program provider. The search giant’s PPC program is called Google AdWords. This PPC program offered by Google lets you show your online ads to the right audience, right location and right time.
The search giant, however, emphasizes that PPC won’t help your SEO ranking. Although PPC in no way affects your site ranking, the tools that come with AdWords will help your organization figure out how to optimize your site organically – without paying for ads.
A case study (PDF) conducted by Google showed that a company that sells a self-help course of a personal nature improved its PPC conversion rate by opting to show its online ad only to customers who might only sign up or purchase when they were in the privacy of their own home – that means outside the regular working hours.
The Google case study showed that while the time change lowered website visits from 9861 to 5652, it increased the client's conversion rate by 3 times, from 1.49% to 4.49%.
Other than ads schedule, other factors that affect PPC conversion rate are improved landing pages, choice of various cities and regions, particular keywords and groups of keywords and device.
SEO and PPC Comparison
Here are 3 key differences between SEO and PPC:
1. Budgetary Requirement
Appearing on top of Google’s search listings as a result of good SEO practices is free. “Search listings are free, and no one can pay for a better ranking,” Google said.
This doesn’t mean, however, that the person you hire to optimize your site is free. And even if you’re doing all the optimizing yourself, there’s still an economic cost to what you’re doing, for instance, creating high-quality content instead of working on other tasks.
PPC, on the other hand, isn’t free. As mentioned, you pay every time a user clicks on your ads. You can control your PPC cost by setting a daily budget – an amount that you're willing to spend each day.
In terms of physical placement in Google’s search results, Google’s PPC ads are placed on top of the organic search results – listings that appear because of their relevance to the search terms and as a result of good SEO work.
So even if you’ve worked hard publishing high-quality content on your site, your competitors’ PPC ads will still appear on top of Google’s search results.
3. Time Element
Good SEO practices can greatly impact the search rankings of your site over time. Many internet users take time to look through the organic listings provided by Google.
The impact of PPC, on the hand, is immediate. This online marketing tool allows you to reach wider audience based on their age, interest, location, language, particular time of the day and device they use. This immediate impact is beneficial to small organizations that can't consistently update their SEO strategies to show latest promotions or seasonal offerings.
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