The short answer is yes.  Intuitively, you know this to be the case.  But what is the real, practical impact on your business of these inaccuracies?

If you have ever performed a search on practically any search engine for your business, you have probably seen a lot of information about your business that you weren’t aware was out there.  A lot of these search results are in the form of Directory Listings.

The chances are pretty good, if you have operated a business for any length of time there could be old addresses, website links, phone numbers, and descriptions on some of these directory sites.  For really new businesses, there’s an equally good chance that your business isn’t even showing up yet.

There isn’t just one comprehensive directory of businesses in the offline world, online.  There are thousands. There are nearly just as many data sources feeding these directories.    So changes that you make to your business may take a long time (if ever) to become a reality online.

The impact of inaccurate data on these listings sites range from practical concerns of your customers not being able to contact you and choosing to contact a competitor to  a little more nebulous impact on things like SEO.

I think most business owners understand the importance of having your information correct on your own website.  If your customer’s can’t find you or contact you, they aren’t going to do business with you.  But its just as important that when people are searching online, before they have found your website, that they find accurate information as well.  So the direct consequences for inaccurate data is pretty straight forward.

But the consequences don’t stop there.  Inconsistent data doesn’t just potentially turn customers away.  These kinds of problems can cause SEO problems as well.

Search engines pride themselves in providing the most accurate and most relevant data to their audience.  So, search engines have taken to  creating search algorithms that actually penalize sites for data that doesn’t match with what it believes to be the correct (and therefore most relevant) data.

This penalty means that having an inaccurate phone number could cause a site with correct address data or website link to not show up in a reader’s search, making it that much harder for a customer to find you.  It also means that there isn’t as much accurate data associated with sites linking  (or even just textually referencing) back to your business decreasing the relevance and score of your site.

While its definitely not the highest items on the SEO totem pole,  accurate data on directory sites impacts SEO on your site. You want every bit of SEO strength that you can find.

How can you fix it

There are a handful of data providers however, that feed a large volume of the directories online.  There are 5 main data providers.  The largest of the directories refresh their data from these sources on a regular basis.  Many publishers update at least annually.  Some as often as monthly.

So the quickest way to impact a large number of sites, at least in the long term, is to get the data updated at these core providers.  On a one-off basis, many directory sites have mechanisms for claiming accounts and providing them with updated information.  Of course this usually means handing over some personal information like an email address.  Also, doing this manually can be a very time consuming process.

MS Digital Solutions offers a suite of tools for monitoring and correcting these data sources.  We can give you access to the tools or take on the time consuming work and do it for you.  Talk to us about how we can help you take control of your online identity.  Our FREE Digital Footprint Analysis is a great way to start finding out how your business appears in online directories.  Register for yours today.

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