Has it ever happened to you? You decide to give your equestrian business a quick Google to see what pops up. Suddenly you’re noticing something surprising. Errors. Lots of them. It could be an old address, or an incorrect phone number. Maybe it’s an address you’ve never even been to before, with your equestrian business’ name attached to it. How could this be? You have a website, and you even made sure to claim your business’ Google listing. You’re on Yelp, and several other common sites that offer local business listings, so what gives?
These errors are, unfortunately, not uncommon. One might think that a business providing its own correct information to a service like Google My Business would be sufficient to ensure that the correct information appears in Google. It’s a Google product after all. But as this article from Moz.com shows, the world of business data on the internet is a lot more complicated than you might think.
Welcome to the local search ecosystem. This handy graphic, while confusing, gives an accurate depiction of how your equestrian business’ information is shared across the internet, specifically important data like your name, address, and phone number. Here’s the kicker. You are only one tiny stream in this whole mess. One little voice in a stadium of screaming people.
So why does this all matter? Simple. Inconsistency hurts.
In order to generate leads and sales from the internet, you have to first get found on the internet. A complete website is a good start, but unless people can find it organically – without you feeding the information to them directly – your visibility will be extremely limited. In order to get found organically, your equestrian business needs to rank well in major search engines like Google. Ranking refers to your business’ position on the infinite number of search engine results pages that a particular search query might generate.
So how do you get yourself on that first page of Google? Despite what many telemarketers might tell you, no one actually knows for sure. That’s right. No one knows exactly how the Google algorithms work. But through continued testing, we are able to determine whether certain tactics do or do not give us the desired results. This is the goal of SEO – search engine optimization – to optimize a business’ website and internet presence in such a way that Google will display it on the first page of its results page. Keywords – the words someone using Google might type into the search box – are the foundation of an SEO strategy. But once we understand that Google’s mission is to provide the best user experience and the highest quality information to its users – your customers, we see that there are many other factors that come into play beyond having a keyword optimized, quality website. Your equestrian business must come across as reputable.
Your equestrian business’ reputation with Google is where the local search ecosystem comes into play. The quality of your website’s content is one factor in your reputation with Google, as is the quality of inbound and outbound links. The consistency of your information across the internet is yet another important factor. Do you see why a myriad of mixed up phone numbers and addresses can damage your equestrian business’ chances of getting found online, and thus generating leads and sales?
You’re not in control, at least not as much as you think
Google is continually cross checking and comparing your equestrian business’ information across many of the sources shown in the graphic above. Think of every occurrence of an incorrect piece of data as a mark against your good reputation with Google. Since the information you provide to Google directly is just one tiny source of data, it’s important to make sure that any business listings or mentions of your business around the internet get cleaned up to present a consistent, accurate, unified image. You might hire a service to do this for you, but be very careful. Always read reviews from third party sources like Google before handing over your credit card. Many of these companies have terrible reputations, and are downright spammy. If you’re a control freak like me, you’ll want to do at least some of the leg work yourself. In an upcoming post, I will be sharing my method for finding and cleaning up incorrect business listings, as well as the tools I use to make quicker work of the job for my clients.
Data Providers are the Gatekeepers of the Internet
Even higher on the local search totem pole than the uncountable number of directory services are the data providers. If your business information is not present, or is inaccurate in the data provider’s database, then this information could possibly override the data in Google’s own database. There are only a handful of data providers – Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual are the four primary sources of data in the United States, and they should not be ignored. Once again, there are services out there that will take care of submitting your information to these data providers on your behalf, or you can do it yourself. Both will require some level of financial commitment.
As you can see, consistent information plays a big role in the visibility of your equestrian business online, and the success of your digital marketing efforts. While it can be tedious, it’s worth the effort to locate and clean up inconsistencies around the web. Treat your equestrian business’ reputation like you would your own. You wouldn’t go around giving different people a different name each time, would you? That would simply lead to confusion, missed connections, and a reputation as, well, shady. Like most things in life, the same can be said for your online presence. Stay consistent, and you’re off to a great start.
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