Google Playing with Click-to-Call Phone Numbers in Mobile Organic Results

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

In his blog post yesterday, local SEO guru Mike Blumenthal reported on click-to-call phone numbers now showing in mobile organic searches. What does this mean? Essentially, along with the normal website link and description, Google is now testing out clickable phone numbers directly in the search results for mobile searches. Let’s look at some examples from Mike’s blog post

Mobile Organic Click To Call AC Repair
In this example, the user was searching for AC repair businesses in Corpus Christi, Texas.

 

Mobile Organic Click Call Jewelers
The user was searching for local jewelers in Buffalo in this screenshot.

So what happened when I tried to replicate the click to call numbers for legal related search queries? (I’ll give you a hint: it worked.)

Mobile Organic Results Attorneys Buffalo
My search for “criminal defense attorney buffalo, ny” produced the click-to-call feature on page 3 of the results.

 

Mobile Organic Results Attorneys Spokane
In this example, you can see the click-to-call results on page 2 of the results for the query “dui attorney spokane wa”

Here’s what we know:

  1. The change was first noticed on February 29, 2016.
  2. Google is likely testing this feature – clickable phone numbers are not yet showing on the first results page (usually a solid sign this is a Google test).
  3. This is likely to be a mobile-only update.
  4. They are testing the new click-to-call feature in most service business searches, including legal search queries.

Why is this change significant?

It might not be. Most likely, this is just another test by Google to see how they can improve their user’s experience. We’ve seen mobile organic tests (remember colored separators on mobile?) like this before that never made it to the big stage. However, if this clickable phone number as part of the snippet is ultimately implemented across the SERPs (search engine results page) and not just sitting quietly on page 2, 3, or 4, there could be some major implications, both negative and positive.

Potential implications:

As an SEO, it’s not only fun, but also my job to speculate on the potential impact of Google’s tests. So what could this click-to-call change mean?

  1. Increased conversion rates. By removing one step for the user, they should be more likely to call your business.
  2. More holes in lead tracking. Much like in the local pack results, businesses probably won’t be able to use call tracking for the click-to-call number, thus creating a hole in lead reporting.
  3. NAP consistency will be key (with an emphasis on the P). If you have multiple conflicting phone numbers on your website – a common blunder in the legal industry – Google will be more likely to either display the incorrect number or not show your phone # at all for the click to call option.

Check back for updates – we’ll keep an eye on this for you.

Yext Integrates Google Into PowerListings

From an outsider’s perspective, business location management is hardly considered a problem. For the unfortunate marketers and SEO’s doing the leg work, location data management is often a major issue. The most straight forward solution to fixing your business listing’s consistency across the web is to outsource to a third party provider, such as Yext. Tools like this have the capacity to simultaneously manage thousands of online business locations at once.

Google’s recent partnership with Yext grants all businesses the power to manage virtually every aspect of their location data. Yext mentioned that instead of having to worry about simply finding and correcting problems, the Google My Business API allows businesses to think about their data not only as data, but as a marketing tool. In other words, they can start utilizing and interacting with data rather than just reacting to what their data is representing.

The Google integration permits immediate data changes, such as special holiday business hours or unplanned closures. However, it’s important to note that while you can implement these changes immediately, Google has the final say over when your changes are actually published.

Google explained in a blog post last December that through the new Google My Business API, developers can:

  • Create business locations with information such as name, address, phone number, category, business hours, and more
  • Manage special hours
  • Mark a business location as permanently closed
  • Manage business photos
  • List, invite and remove managers on locations and business accounts
  • Read listing state to identify Google updated, duplicate and suspended locations
  • Search/Filter locations by name, category and label
  • Set the service area for a business either by specifying a point and radius or Place IDs

In part six of Mockingbird’s “Toolbox Webinars” series, we’ll walk you through the two most popular local business management tools: Moz Local and Yext. Learn why just buying these tools isn’t enough, why you need both of them, and more about Yext’s newly forged partnership with Google – a service previously only available to agencies and large buyers.

If you want to learn more about utilizing Yext for optimizing your local web presence, sign up for our webinar today!

Moz’s Local Ranking Factors Report

Every year, I get an email from Moz asking for input into their Local Ranking Factors survey.  The survey is conducted amongst a small group of SEO nerds. Due to the competitiveness of legal marketing, be glad to know our niche is especially well represented- I’m joined by legal marketing geeks, Mike Ramsey, Gyi Tsakalakis and Casey Meraz.  This year, the study came out shortly after Google launched the snack pack (catch up here), so the results are particularly interesting.

If you want to geek out, you can read the full Moz study here.

Overall Ranking Factors

Ranking Factors continue to diversify – meaning there are a wide array of things you need to get right.  Vendors who provide just one piece of the puzzle are rarely going to be enough to drive success (and yes – I fully acknowledge this is a self-serving comment.)  The factor consistently gaining in significance is behavioral performance (i.e. click through rates, time on site etc.) – this has been backed up by numerous studies.  In legal, this emphasizes issues like brand, meta descriptions, a site’s look and feel/user interface and accessibility of information.

And despite the ongoing assertions of social media pundits – Social is entirely immaterial to local performance – coming in dead last among all ranking categories.  Joy Hawkins (who is our secret go-to person when we get utterly stuck on a complex Google My Business issues) explains social and search:

I gave social signals 1% for organic impact because I do think it’s possible that they could impact ranking – I have just never seen a single case where they did. I always quote Matt Cutts where he indicated that when it comes to social signals it’s a correlation and not causation. Businesses that are active on Facebook also usually care about their ranking on Google and are actively trying to improve it. One doesn’t cause the other.

David Mihm, the author of the survey, offers his take on the waning (if not entirely dead) impact of Google+ in ranking:

At this point, I view Google My Business essentially as a UI for structured data* and a conduit to AdWords. While Google’s original “business builder” vision may still come to fruition, it clearly won’t be under the social umbrella of Google+.

Top 10 Ranking Factors for Local (now Snack Pack)

  1. Physical Address in City of Search
  2. NAP Consistency in Structured Citations
  3. Proper Google My Business Categories
  4. Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (i.e. physically where is the searcher)
  5. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  6. Domain Authority of Website
  7. Product/Service Keyword in Google My Business Business Title
  8. City, State in Google My Business Landing Page Title
  9. HTML NAP matching Google My Business Location NAP
  10. Click Through Rate from Search Results

Of particular note is the focus on quality including the prevalence of accuracy in Google My Business information (note David’s comment above).

Ranking Differentiators for Competitive Markets (i.e. legal)

My favorite facet of the survey is the focus on competitive markets – essentially almost all of the legal marketing space.  After getting the fundamentals right, this becomes the tactical focus of our engagements and frankly, these are often the hardest components of search – the stuff that can’t be automated, simplified or easily copied.

  1. Consistency of Structured Citations
  2. Domain Authority of Website
  3. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  4. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  5. Proper Google My Business Category Associations
  6. Physical Address in City of Search (in the past month, we have been consulted twice on helping law firms decide what building to move in to.)
  7. Quantity of Native Google Reviews
  8. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Google My Business Landing Page URL
  9. CTR from search results pages
  10. Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (i.e. Newspaper articles)

Note the heavy heavy focus on quality above.  You don’t achieve these tactics through $10 for 1,000 twitter followers or a paid citation campaign.

Non Local Local Results

Heh?  This is really localized natural search – i.e. results for local queries (even those without a geo-modifier) that return typical SEO results.  I don’t want dwell on this, as this is a post about Local (i.e. mapped) results, but for natural search with a local component (which represents at least 95% of legal searches – the focus is on providing accurate location signals through Google My Business and a heavy focus on site authority (i.e. high quality links).  In fact the top 2 signals according to the survey are link related.

Negative Ranking Factors

Of course, no SEO conversation would be complete without a discussion of penalties.

  1. Incorrect business category
  2. Listing at false business address
  3. Mis-Match NAP or Tracking Phone Numbers
  4. Presence of malware
  5. Reports of Violations in your Google My Business location
  6. Mis-matched NAP/tracking phone numbers on Google My Business page
  7. Mis-matched Address on Google My Business page
  8. Multiple Google My Business locations with Same Phone Number
  9. Absence of NAP on website
  10. Address includes suite number similar to UPS Mail Store or other false address.

The negative ranking factors center around incorrect NAP as well and inconsistent information in…. here it is again…. Google My Business.  Given the prevalence of geo spam among lawyers (i.e. “virtual offices” or fake offices shoehorned into your friends insurance office), I expect we will continue to see a greater focus on reporting of non-real offices.   Frankly, the only impact we saw among law firms with the Pigeon roll out was severe penalties on some significant local spammers; so none of this really surprises me.

Snack Pack

Acknowledging that the Snack Pack launched just prior to the survey (and so the following is probably more intuitive rather than based on any studies, Moz asked about change in tactical focus given the snack pack.  Across the board, the increased focus was on quality signals (NAP, Authority, Citations).  The only quantity factor was Google specific reviews (i.e. the more the better but note the focus on Google, NOT reviews across the web – Avvo, Yelp etc.).   Tactical losers focused on quantity (which I read to mean low cost, low value, low authority – easily replicable) links, citations and…. my favorite punching bag…. social shares.

HOT: Google Updates Local Results

Fresh from the web comes this update about Google’s recent changes to the local pack.

The local 3-pack

Google’s local results, AKA the “Local” or “Map” pack, just got streamlined from seven results to three.

What is it?

The “Local Pack” is the list that appears on the left of your screen when you search Google for a local service or business. As an example, here’s an image from a post last year:

What’s Changed?

As you’ll note below, the local pack just slimmed down. It lost four listings, doesn’t feature a phone number and no longer shows the Google+ page. The number can be found by clicking the listing: More on that in a bit. Businesses still show star rankings where applicable. Street names are now used in lieu of full addresses. Hours of operation will show either opening or closing times, depending on the time of day.

Attack of the 3 Pack
LA Area Search for “Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney” – 2:30 PM, 8/7/2015

Previously, clicking a link in the local pack would have the listing’s knowledge graph page fly-out to the right, as detailed here. In this new iteration, clicking the the listing (and not the website or direction links) brings up an entirely new pageLocal Pack Click-Through

This new page now features the business knowledge graph card. Users can now find the full address and phone number here. This page also features a total of 20 business listings, and links to more at the bottom.

So what does it mean?

The obvious first thought is that it just got harder for folks that were ranking 4-7. Does this mean it’s time to up your Adwords advertising spend? Perhaps. It could also be a boon to companies that rank #1 or #2 organically but don’t show up in the local pack. That the local list is now shorter means less scrolling to get to them.

Time will tell if users adjust to this new “local pack lite” and click through to the 20 listing page.

We’ll keep an eye on this for you. In the meantime, redouble your local SEO efforts: The bar just got higher.

Online Reputation Management: How to do Reviews

Reputation management is yet another candidate in a long list of considerations you need to take into account when managing your online presence. In addition to proactively keeping your citations correct, building links, posting fresh content, structuring your site, and on and on, it can be tiring to know there’s one more thing that threatens to undermine your hard work and past successes. But anyone who tells you marketing is easy is a liar. There’s a reason this is our job.

 

What is reputation management? Why is it important?

The concept of reputation management is as simple as it sounds. If you want to be found (and subsequently hired), you need to put your information out on the internet. Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factor survey listed review signals as having 10% of total influence on search rankings. In addition, online reviews are trusted more than ads in almost every medium, and 35% of clients say they use online reviews to research new attorneys (thanks to the legal technology team at Software Advice for going out of their way to provide the raw info from that study). Having profile pages on sites like Avvo, Yelp, Google+, etc., makes you more likely to be found when someone searches for your practice. But getting clients isn’t just about whether your online presence is big or small, it’s also about whether that presence is good or bad. It doesn’t matter if you’re the top of the local pack for “personal injury lawyer New York” – if you show a 1-star average from 10 reviews, people will skip over you and go to the next attorney in line.

Managing your reputation means getting high-quality reviews from clients across multiple platforms, making sure those ratings are glowing and natural (no spam!), and dealing with bad reviews as they occur. It also means ranking well for search results directly related to your business, so that your results stand above any bad PR pieces that show up in the SERPs. But that’s a lot of moving pieces, so this post is just going to focus on one of the most obvious parts: getting good reviews. Let’s look into what you can do to have a great online reputation.

 

Getting clients to review you

The most important step towards getting good reviews is providing excellent service. You will find it very hard to get praise if you don’t deserve it. But once you’ve jumped over that minor hurdle, the next the best catalyst for reviews is asking. If you don’t ask for reviews, the only people who will give you any are the ones who seek out opportunities to do so. This usually lends to you looking worse online than in real life because angry clients are far more likely to go out of their way to review than happy ones.

At Mockingbird, we find that the best way to ask for reviews is in person after the case is over, then letting clients fill out the review in their own time afterwards. Strike up a conversation when the client comes by to fill out paperwork or make a payment, and tell them how much a review means to your business. Getting a verbal agreement from your client is one of the most effective means of guaranteeing they will review you afterwards. Look them in the eye, and gain their approval with a handshake. After that meeting, make the process is easy as possible by following up with an email linking them to your relevant profile(s) – except for Yelp, more on that in a bit. Another benefit of asking for reviews individually is that you can pick and choose who you want to represent you online. If you won a case but you don’t think the client will be receptive, consider not reaching out for a review.

Some people just don’t have the time to watch all their review sites and check in with each individual client, so they turn to automated review management tools like GetFiveStars or other automatic review solicitors. The usual trick with these is to send an initial email asking for feedback. If the reviewer gives a low score, they are thanked for their opinion and nothing else is done. If the review gives a high score, they are instead prompted to voice their opinions on one of several sites. We’ve tried this before, but our conversion rates were almost non-existent. The major problem is that this tactic is used for business with large client volumes, like restaurants or hair salons. Law firms and attorneys don’t deal with nearly as many clients, so you end up with a pretty bad return on investment. If you’re still interested in watching for reviews, consider a tracking software like ReviewTrackers so you don’t have to constantly visit your Justia and Avvo profiles.

 

Optimizing your impact

The strength of reviews is dependent on a lot of factors beyond your average ranking. Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors survey emphasizes the following:

  • Quantity of reviews
  • Authority of sites hosting those reviews
  • Diversity of sites hosting those reviews
  • Freshness of reviews, and the rate those reviews were added
  • Whether your rating shows up next to your search result (need 5 or more Google+ reviews)

The first on that list is quantity, which has become more important over the past year. Only about 8% of potential customers consider a business trustworthy if there is 1 review. For 85% of potential clients to consider you trustworthy, it’s good to have at least 10 reviews. Now these should be quality reviews so you can’t expect this to be done in a few days or even a few months. Like everything in SEO, good reputation management takes time.

In addition, you should be aware of what sites your reviews show up on, because there are a lot of options. A surprisingly large amount of users go through Yelp, along with Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and Avvo. You can get reviews on Google+, Avvo, Justia, Yelp, and other directories, but ask your clients where they found your business so you what to focus on.

Yelp is a unique beast in that they don’t want you to ask your clients for reviews, something we’ve discussed in one of our LMQ videos. However, Yelp’s suggested ways to “remind customers”, such as profile links in your e-mail signature or stickers on your business door, aren’t effective for attorneys (and can be very tacky). We firmly believe that you should still proactively ask your clients for reviews, but avoid invoking Yelp’s ire by not explicitly stating where to go. A softer approach is more appropriate: “We really appreciate reviews because it helps our web presence, several places you can go are: [your top 3 targeted directories]”. In a follow-up email, don’t send them a direct link to your Yelp page, but ask them to search for your name.

Important Note: Even though you won’t be regarded as trustworthy if you have no reviews, potential clients will find you even less trustworthy if you have mostly bad reviews. Do not ask for a review unless you’re confident it will be a positive one.

 

The evils of astroturfing

It’s common to want an easy way out of this problem. Despite your best efforts, clients may not be likely to review you and not every review will be a raving 5 stars. At these times it may be tempting to look for another way to get your ratings up. But fight the urge. In addition to be less than fair to potential clients, it’s also dangerous for you.

Yelp is big on keeping reviews legitimate. They’ve sued attorneys for faking reviews before (we blogged about that incident), and they go over reviews to make sure nothing looks spammy or forced. Avvo will investigate reviews by hand multiple times, even to the point of asking reviewers to provide evidence that they worked with given attorneys. Remember that these sites make their livelihood off of consumers’ trust, so they are just as willing to crack down on scummy review practices as potential clients are. Even state governments have taken action against fake reviewing companies.

There are other tactics out there from attorneys and firms trying to slip under the radar. But this is the same story with so much of SEO – people try to game the system, and sometimes succeed for a short time, then get smacked once the system improves. Remember that if you want a good reputation, the best thing you can do is provide excellent service. Once people are willing to talk about how great you are, just nudge them in the right direction.

 

We’d love to hear your feedback in the field of review management. Have you used review management software? What do you think is the best way to get reviews? What do you think of Yelp’s opinion on review solicitation? Let us know in the comments.

You can find the sequel to this post here: Dealing With Bad reviews

Citations – Overlooked Boon for Legal Industry

What is a citation?

Citations are a key determinate of your firm’s success in local search engine optimization.

Definition – mention of your business name, address, and (ideally) your phone number on webpages across the Internet. The distinguishing factor of a citation: a link to your website is not required.

Citations come in different forms. It could be a mention of your business name all by itself; a mention of your name and phone number; name, phone number and physical address; or name, phone number, physical address and website link.

The two main types of citations are structured and unstructured.

Unstructured citations are exactly how they sound – they are less formal and may only mention one of the NAP (name, address, phone number) components for your business. You will see this type of citation on blogs, in job descriptions, online news articles, etc.

Structured citations are what you see most commonly on the web. These are listings found in directories like Yelp, Citysearch, Manta, etc. We spend a lot of time at Mockingbird ensuring structured citations are listed consistently. They are the most complete representation of your business and, for the most part, the easiest to update (with some noted headaches).

Why citations are vital to your firm’s local SEO

The legal industry is arguably one of the most competitive verticals on the web. Lawyers need to utilize every tactic available, and acquiring citations is seldom done correctly if at all.

Citations are a critical component to major search engine ranking algorithms. Moz explains the different ranking components in their 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors study. Screen shot from this study below.

Local Search Ranking Factors Pie

In English: search engines pull basic business information from your website and a multitude of directories across the web in order to integrate that information into a single listing to show users. Google and Bing only want to present results that they trust are accurate. Why? Their success depends on it – sending a user to an incorrect address is the easiest way for a search engine to lose trust with that user.

So how can you build trust that your physical location is actually where you say it is? Consistent citations.

Google will trust that you are in fact a local business if your basic information, also known as NAP (name, address, phone number), is exactly the same across multiple authoritative sites and directories (think Yelp, Yellowpages, Avvo…). This helps separate the real businesses from the fake, spammy ones trying to game the system.

Let’s talk about something we all know; lawyers long for the coveted number one spot in the local pack. We can’t blame them. If you’re unfamiliar with the term local pack, it’s the group of local business listings that appears directly above the actual search results.

For example the local pack for the search term “Seattle marketing firm” looks like this:

Google Search Seattle Marketing Firm

Moz explains in their local search ranking report that external location signals (or citations) are the third most important factor used to rank businesses. If you’re wondering, the first two are on-page and link signals. Your name, address, and phone number should show up exactly the same across the web if you hope to show in local searches.

It’s an important task and something that every law firm must do.

Where to start

Starting is hard. It’s long, tedious, and frustrating work. Trust me I deal with this dirt every day.

Your first step is to choose a name, an address, and a single phone number that represents your business. Then find and edit every inaccurate listing out on the web. Tip: Keep an excel file that documents all of this information as you go. You can use this simple template we’ve created. Here are the top-tier directories and data aggregators you need to get right:

  • Acxiom
  • Factual – can’t edit
  • Infogroup
  • Localeze (Neustar)

Google trusts these sources because they are not easily polluted. Learn more about updating these main data aggregators, and the level of difficulty for each.

Top tier directories/citation opportunities

  • D&B
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Google+ Local
  • LinkedIn
  • Yelp for Business

Google and people alike trust these sources and actually use them.

Low-hanging fruit (not included in Moz Local or Yext subscriptions)

  • Thumbtack
  • Yellow Pages
  • Manta
  • Angies List
  • Yellowbook
  • Kudzu
  • BBB.org
  • InsiderPages

Not the SEO savior you are searching for…

4 Citations Local Pack

Citations are not the be-all and end-all SEO solution that everyone is searching for (in case your hopes were rising). However, they could be your demise. Solid NAP consistency may be taken for granted if you have it, but if you don’t have it, you may never find yourself in that local pack.

Obligatory lawyer example

You are a personal injury attorney in NYC. Competition is cutthroat because of your practice area and geographic location.

Here’s the case. While crossing the street, an unfortunate New Yorker is struck by a taxi. Upon release from the hospital, the victim takes the obvious next step and searches for an experienced PI lawyer. He searches for “New York Personal Injury Attorney” and lands on your law firm’s listing in Google’s local pack. BOOM. All your hard work to improve your local visibility has paid off. All you have to do is pick up the phone and turn that lead into a lucrative client.

Local Pack Show Me Money

But that doesn’t happen. Instead of getting your firm’s front desk, the disgruntled New Yorker has called your old number, which is now the local UPS office. I highly doubt the victim wants legal representation from the men in brown. This is annoying, but only a slight inconvenience for him because he calls another listing from the local pack. Now your qualified lead is a client for your most loathed competitor, Joe-from-down-the-block. Don’t send clients to your competitors. That’s not good business.

The Facts

  1. Citations help your local SEO.
  2. You need proactively monitor citations for consistency.
  3. There’s a partial citation, and a complete citation – aim for the complete.
  4. It’s not easy work but it pays off.

Parting notes:

  • Evaluate the situation – https://moz.com/local/overview is a great place to start.
  • Start with your Google+ profile – fixing this is easy and will have the maximum ROI (or really ROTI).
  • Consistency over quantity – get it right before you run wild with building citations.

Go forth and take citations into your own hands. Or call us for help… that works too.

How To Update Your Business Information on the 4 Main Data Aggregators

In a relentless quest to become the most reliable provider of data on the web, Google and Bing do their best to display correct contact information for every business. In order to do this, search engines rely on data aggregators, which vary by country, to provide reliable information. Other directory sites, such as Yelp and Yellow Pages, also pull information from these major data aggregators. If your business information is incorrect in the aggregator databases, you can expect it to be displayed incorrectly in numerous other places across the web. Therefore, making sure your business information is correct on applicable data aggregators should be at the top of your local search improvement to do list.

According to Moz, there are four main data aggregators in the U.S.: Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual. Unfortunately, figuring out where and how to check and change your business information in these aggregators is often more difficult than it should be. We’ve broken down each directory to give you a quick look into what’s required to update information in each one.

[We’ve also scored each directory in Pigeons. In this game, the fewer pigeons, the less annoying the aggregator is to work with.]

Infogroup

Annoyance level:  Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.00.53 AM

Infogroup is without a doubt the easiest to navigate of the four aggregators. It’s simple to find your listing and to update your information once you’ve claimed your listing. You can manage multiple locations under one account, and the verification process is relatively painless. On the downside, there doesn’t seem to be a set process for removing duplicates. Your best bet in that situation is to give them a call, or to claim all duplicate listings and delete the ones you don’t want.

How to Claim Your Listing & Update Information:Express Update

  1. Search for you business via phone number, business name, or address.
  2. If no business appears, click “add it now.” Otherwise, skip to step 4.
  3. Enter business information. Wait for an email saying your listing has been approved.
  4. Complete phone verification. As you press the “Yes, Call me now” button, the screen will refresh and display a 4-digit verification code. Simultaneously, they will call the number listed. The call will be automated and prompt you to enter the code.
  5. Once the call is complete, you will be prompted to sign up for an account.
  6. Once you have phone verified and created an account, you can update the business information by clicking on the business name in the upper left of your account dashboard.

 

Nuestar Localeze

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.35.38 AMAnnoyance level:  Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.03.45 AM

On the surface, Localeze follows a similar process to Infogroup. The major differentiator is that for a free listing, Localeze only allows you to update your information once a year. NOTE: lately (the past 3 weeks, give or take) Localeze has been impossibly glitchy. It’s favorite new party trick is to show your listing, prompt you to claim it, and then redirect you to your main account page when you press “claim now.” It’s other new favorite thing is to serve an “Sorry, an error happened while processing your request” page every few minutes.

How to Claim Your Listing & Update Information:

  1. Search for your business. Request to claim or press “add it to our directory.”
  2. Fill out your remaining business information and/or replace any incorrect information. Select whether you want a free or paid listing.
  3. Complete phone verification. When you press “call me” Localeze will call the number listed and an automated voice will give you a code to enter into the website.
  4. Press “proceed to checkout.” You’ll be redirected to a page prompting you to create an account. Don’t worry, your hard work is not lost — the listing will be submitted as soon as your account is created.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

 

Acxiom

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.34.48 AMAnnoyance level: Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.04.14 AM

Acxiom is the most frustrating to work with of the four. However, since it’s verification processes are so stringent, one can only hope it is therefore weighed more heavily in the eyes of the search engines. If you have a semi-established presence on the web, it’s likely your business is already listed on Acxiom.

How to Claim Your Listing & Update Information:

  1. Create an account using your name, business name and location, user name, and password (which must be 10+ characters, have no repeating characters, and contain at least one number, one upper case letter, one lower case letter, and one special character).
  2. Verify your account via email.
  3. Search for your business via phone number or business name. If it’s listed, request to claim it. If not, skip to step 6.
  4. Complete phone verification. In order to complete this step, you must call Acxiom from the phone number on your business listing, and navigate through their pre-recorded answering system in order to leave a message with your business name and your account user name. NOTE: You must state your business name exactly as it appears on the listing. If there’s an “LLC” or “Inc.” after your business name, you must include it in your message or your attempt to claim will be rejected.
  5. After you leave a message, you’ll need to wait a few days until Acxiom reviews it and then sends you an email with approval. From there, you can edit all your listing information – with the exception of your business name and phone number. Note: If either of these are incorrect, the only way to get correct information listed is to delete that listing and create a new one. In order to delete the listing, you will have to claim the listing by following the process above and delete the listing yourself.
  6. To create a new listing, you are required to enter your business information, and upload one of the following: federal tax license letter, business license, doing business as license, or fictitious name registration. Then, you’ll need to wait at least 30 days for Acxiom to approve your edit.
*The following sections have been updated as of July 10, 2017

Claiming and Fixing Multiple Listings*

If you have multiple business locations, or have found multiple listings of your business that are incorrect, the process to claim and fix/remove these will be a little more complicated.

For example, your business may have 3 different locations, but you discover 8 listings with your business name and an incorrect phone number (and address) on Acxiom. Your only choice here is to try and get these removed. However, with every additional listing over 5 that you claim, Acxiom charges $50. Obviously you want to avoid forking over an extra $150.

The below steps outline the best plan of action for getting these removed:

  1. Collect documents showing proof of ownership of the correct listings. Like the process above, you will need either a federal tax license letter, business license, doing business as license, or fictitious name registration to show that you own each business location. If your business USED to be in a different location but has moved, and thus is the basis for the incorrect listings, be sure to provide documentation for this as well.
  2. Draft an e-mail to mblm@acxiom.com explaining your circumstances. Be as detailed as possible, listing what citations and information is incorrect. Be sure to specify that you want the listings removed. Note whether they are duplicates of your correct listings, are old business locations, or simply do not exist.
  3. Attach documents to the e-mail. Be sure to explain that the documents show proof of ownership of the business and the several business locations.
  4. Include your Acxciom account username/e-mail address so Acxiom knows what account you want to claim the listings from.
  5. Send the e-mail and wait. You should either receive an e-mail back from support directly OR you will get a confirmation e-mail saying that they have claimed the listings for you. If the latter is the case, the listings will then appear as Claimed in your Acxiom account and you will delete them manually. If the former is the case, hopefully Support was able to remove them for you, or let you know that they need additional info. Acxiom does not provide any information on how long it will take for them to get back to you. *sad face*
  6. Wait, again. Acxiom says that your listing will take approximately 30-60 days to propagate. Once the incorrect listings are removed, it will take a while for this to push out to other directories. This will significantly help your NAP consistency across the web.

If Your Listing is Already Claimed*

If you come across your listing on Acxiom, and it is already claimed and is incorrect, your best bet is to contact Acxiom support (mblm@acxiom.com) and request ownership. If you think you already claimed the listing and have forgotten your login credentials, be sure to note that in the e-mail. Acxiom may request further verification to prove that you own the business.

If you have found a listing that is claimed and does have correct business information, it may be too much of a hassle to go through the claiming process just to have access to it. If you do decide that you want to claim it, contact Support via mblm@acxiom.com explaining your circumstances.

Factual

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 8.44.59 AMAnnoyance level: all of it

At first blush, Factual seems pretty standard. There are options to log in, add your business, etc. However, a few months ago they changed their model (we wrote about it here). Now, you can only change your business information 1 of 2 ways.

  1. Write API.
  2. Through a “trusted data contributor” like Yext, Where 2 Get It, Moz, UBL or GoDaddy. Read: through sources you have to pay for.

In a nutshell, Factual has made it impossible for a non-developer to edit their business information for free.

 

Tips for the Road

First things first, claim or create your listings in Infogroup, Localeze, and Acxiom. Make sure this information exactly matches what appears on your website/Google + listing. Moving forward, any time you stumble across incorrect information about your business, do your best to correct it.

 

What do you think? Are our pigeon scores correct?

Factual Changes How to List Your Business

Update (3/29/2016)*: Factual is now accepting manual submissions and revisions here: https://factual.com/contact#update_add_business

By now, we should all know the importance of having a consistent business name, address, phone number and domain listed throughout the web. Inconsistencies within directories send different signals to the search engines and can negatively impact your local listing position. Pigeon, the latest Google local update, seems to solidify this point with their move to more “traditional ranking factors” for local search.

Last week, I had one of our Marketing Managers help create and clean up a list of directories for one of my clients.  Each directory has a different process to adding and updating business information, but Factual was unique enough for me to remember that the process entailed and actual email to the company.

This is the process that was outlined on their contributing/correcting data page last week (you can also find this catalogued in the way back machine on Jun 25, 2014):

Factual Listings Before Change

Here’s what you see now:

Factual Listings After Change

Like many other directories, Factual is relying on “trusted data contributors” to list your business. Not surprisingly, Yext is one of the top recommended data contributors.

Unfortunately, this is taking the control of small business listings out of the hands of small business owners and into the hands of online marketing experts and tool providers. Does anyone else feel like they are being backed into a corner when it comes to managing your business information?

*Thanks to one of our readers Nigel Allen for the tip!