We have discussed the security risks of local business listing hijackings in the past. One of the comments made about these security discussions is why do the geo-listing websites like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and up to 60 others insure the security to avoid hijackings?
Of course the question to be asked is why should they provide the security service for a free marketing tool that will benefit the business?
Many of these websites do have some level of security built into the process of claiming an existing listing or adding a new listing.
So far, these security processes have included sending a post card to the existing address with a pin code; a computer calling to the business phone number with the pin; or in some cases a manual review by staff working for these geo-listing websites.
On May 27th, Google announced that community edits of local business listings was no longer be allowed to go without staff review. An excerpt of their announcement states:
“We recently made a change to Google Maps to require all community edits to be reviewed before they are shown. In the past, some “pending” edits were shown immediately on Maps and only moderated (and sometimes denied) later on.
We’re taking this step to ensure that changes to Google Maps pass the high quality bar our users expect, while preventing SPAM and other problems from showing up before being reviewed first.”
In summary Google is stating all community edits made to unclaimed local business listings will have to be approved by a Google representative before they are sent live.
Supposedly, this means no more worrying about a competitor hijacking your listing and stealing your customers.
It definitely means it will take longer for information to reach the local consumers through web searches and mobile searches.
While on the surface this may sound like at least Google is addressing the security issues of local business listings, the announcement did not discuss the security of data coming from third party sources through API’s.
Certainly third tier business directories have no security and their data is sold upstream or makes its way to other database across the Internet with wrong information available for the consumers.
Why the high expectations for Free Geo-Marketing services?
I am certainly concerned about the security issues around local business listings, but I cannot expect these geo-listing websites to provide security for my company. The reason I do not expect them to provide this security is because they are providing the marketing service for free.
Why should any business assume that a free service should have high level of security? We could certainly say “you get what you pay for”!
The issue for businesses lies in the book titled “Crossing the Chasm”. This book discusses innovators vs. early adopters vs. late adopters. The questions to businesses that have seen the Internet add, mature, and change technologies are:
* How long are you going to continue to wait to adopt Geo-Marketing technologies to help you generate revenue?
* Do you feel like you’re always behind the eight ball with the Internet?
A business cannot possibly understand how to use the various Geo-Marketing technologies well. For this reason you need to consider securing professional help and engage in these marketing technologies sooner rather than later. Plan these technologies progressively over a 3-year period.
Additional incentives for early adoption of Geo-Marketing technologies
There are three critical points that businesses need to consider now and not wait until the 11th hour.
1. The first and foremost we already discussed, which is hijackings.
2. Now let’s add that for your business there may be multiple duplicate listings that need to be cleaned up, merged and/or deleted to not confuse the consumers when there are multiple listings for your business.
3. Lastly, consumer reviews especially negative ones can potentially have an adverse affect on your website’s search engine ranking positions as search engine adopt consumer reviews as an additional data point to decide who is in the top ten for a search.
About the Author: Melih (“may-lee”) Oztalay is a 16 year veteran of the Internet. He is the CEO of SmartFinds Internet Marketing located in Birmingham, Michigan, providing Internet marketing solutions and services to businesses. The agency’s recent focus on local business listing management services helps small and local businesses reach local consumers through web and mobile searches. Some of SmartFinds’ clients have included Delphi, Flagstar Bank, Guardian Industries, Soave Enterprises, Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, McCann Erickson, Wendy’s and others.