This is a story about how much can be lost by mis-categorizing your business.
We received a complaint from an Oregon art supply store that they were being incorrectly compared to an irrelevant business. The so-called competitor, called Hair’s Where It’s At, was also categorized as an art supply store on AmIVisible.
Our initial assumption was that we had somehow erred, but we decided to take a look to be sure. It turned out that Hair’s Where It’s At is listed on major directories and search engines under the following categories:
For example, Google Maps had categorized them as ‘beauty salon’ with a specialty in ‘galleries’:
Such an odd mix of categories didn’t clarify what type of business this was, so we searched for Hair’s website to get a clearer picture. Well, there was no website to be found. Next we decided to take a look at which keywords the business shows up for. With a name like Hair’s Where It’s At, we expected to find keywords along the lines of hair or salon. Instead, we found:
So now we were totally confused – was this a hair salon, or an art supply store?
At this point we decided to pick up the phone and end the mystery.
The business owner, Sandra, had no idea she was listed under these categories. Her response was, “I didn’t even know I was on the Internet. It must have been my grandson who did all that.”
Well it turned out she is a hair salon (and has been since 1976) but she’s also an artist, and hangs her paintings on the wall to sell to her hair customers. “I used to display hair-dos on wigs, but nobody was interested in buying those,” she laughed.
While it’s all good and fun to sell art while cutting hair, it doesn’t bode well for your online presence the way it currently stands, we tried explaining to her. The name implies that you’re a hairdresser while your listings, categories, and keywords make you sound like an art supplies store. By editing a few search engine listings and optimizing your keywords, this could all be corrected, and could drive significantly more traffic to your business.
She didn’t seem bothered a bit by her online inconsistencies. When asked if she had considered creating a website, she said: “I’m a mini-senior citizen, I don’t need the Internet. I already have two customers coming in today.”
Being in business since 1976 is certainly a proud accomplishment, and two customers a day is better than none. But if someone would correct her categories and optimize her keywords, there’s little doubt that more potential customers would be driven to her. Not everyone will pick up the phone to call and ask whether she’s a barber or an art shop the way we did.
Who really stands to lose in this situation?
It bothered the business who was incorrectly compared to them on our presence management system, but that’s a minor issue. It should bother search engines that potential customers searching for an art store will find a hair salon (which is an all too common problem.) It’s the people who are searching for a haircut in her area who stand to lose, because they won’t find her easily. And most of all Sandra stands to lose – considering her hair salon, and not her art, is her primary business.
But as Clickable CEO David Kidder pointed out, nearly 45% of SMB’s don’t want new customers. Maybe Sandra is one of them.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.