Whether you are a mom and pop outfit, Main Street USA type of SMB, or you’re more on the medium end of the small to medium-sized business scale (100-1000 employees), or even if you’re a multi-national Fortune 500, there is local business information about you on the Web.
As the use of mobile and social platforms soars, the importance of local data escalates, regardless of business size.
Google has placed a much greater emphasis on the Places pages as they try to move into other areas of the Internet like review generation (Hotpot*) and their latest social effort (Google+1).
At the end of the day, if you are letting others determine what data is correct about your business you are running the risk of getting less return on your information (the other ROI).
So here are a few reasons why data will rule in 2011.
1. Accurate data is a foundational need
This is true now more than ever, for any business to succeed online. Control and management of the building blocks of Internet data for business will determine whether many businesses succeed or fail in the online space.
2. Accurate data means more and better citations
Citations are the local search world’s equivalent of links as they relate to Google Places pages. With the recent changes in how Google presents search and its closer ties to website SEO, this data accuracy concern has never been greater.
3. Data can make or break lead generation
Nothing is worse than having all of your marketing efforts come together to get a prospect to the point of becoming a lead, only to stumble due to bad contact information about your business from a source you weren’t monitoring. You may not lose the business, but why throw an unnecessary roadblock in the way of a potential sale?
4. Accurate data implies being a business that has it together
Have you ever tried to track down a business and you find several different addresses in different places? You may know where the business currently is, but leaving a trail of moves or bad data can give the impression that your business is not stable— which is never a good thing.
5. Data builds upon itself and leaves a trail
If you have left your business data accuracy requirements to the various data aggregators then you are risking having your information look like a jumbled mess—to the search engines in particular.
The simple use of LLC or Inc. in a business name can generate more than one listing which will cause confusion across the Web. If left unattended, these inaccuracies will take on a life of their own and create issues for online marketing efforts far into the future.
6. Nothing is worse than a data surprise
A data surprise is when you connect with a prospect who says “Oh, I went with your competitor because the number I found online for your business was disconnected. Sorry!” Business people hate surprises so this is just inherently bad.
One of the best investments a business can make in 2011 is in tools or services that can ensure the accuracy of the online data published about its business.
Thankfully, there are some excellent turnkey services available today designed specifically for SMBs to manage their online business identity without a major capital or time investment.
Editors Note: April 8, 2011 – Google announced “HotPot” is now a part of Google Places.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.