17 Feb Local Listings: Data Aggregators vs. Manual Uploads
Sometimes late a night, a person requires burritos. Recently, I needed my south of the border fix and I went to Google to help me find a tortilla peddler who was open in my neighborhood. The problem that I found was that many of the Mexican restaurant listings in my area didn’t have their hours of operation included in their Google listings. This made me crazy. Everyone has had the experience of driving to a restaurant or store only to find darkened rooms devoid of any business activity. I needed my burrito and I didn’t want to drive around all night like some high schoolers looking for a kegger! I could’ve called them to see if they were still open but that also would have been a hassle. I had a need and I wanted Google to show me where to fulfill my need. Now more than ever it’s of vital importance to ensure that your business listing are visible and offer the buying public the information they require to do business with your company. There are two ways that a company can upload their listings to different directories, manually uploading the listings and bulk uploading the listings. Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of both.
There’s no question that aggregators like Localeze, Axiom, Infogroup and Factual can get your listings uploaded in a one stop, easy way. Aggregators take your basic listing information like name, address, phone number, hours of operation, acceptable payment methods and business description and then upload this data into hundreds of directory websites. The automated nature of these services makes this process simple and convenient.
It’s important to note with aggregators that even though your listings have been uploaded, each directory must first approve them and this timetable varies from site to site. When we upload your listings manually we have a better sense of when the listing will go live from our previous experience uploading to that directory. From past experience, we’ve seen manually uploaded listings go live faster than their aggregator counterparts.
With manually uploading listings all of the data points described in the previous paragraph need to be input individually into each website. One benefit of doing this though is that your business can customize your business descriptions and photos for each directory. Why would this be helpful? Well let’s say for example that you’re a plumbing company and you are uploading your listing into Houzz.com. Knowing that many end users use Houzz.com for remodeling ideas, your business description could highlight your extensive knowledge and experience in remodeling properties. Your photos could demonstrate your ability to complete remodels in a beautiful way. In essence, manually uploading allows you to tailor your message to the demographic that uses that directory, which is a great advantage.
Without question, listing aggregators can get your listing found on more sites for less money. Manually loading takes a lot more time to complete, as it requires significantly more resources to get the same amount of exposure as you could get from an aggregator.
Managing the Listing
So your listings are approved and people can find them but what happens if you need to change some information like your new address? You have greater control of your listings when they are manually loaded because you have a user account with each directory that includes your login information. With aggregators, you may be uploaded into hundreds of directories but even using the aggregator’s dashboard, there is not a way to access even a small portion of these listings. Also, the feedback we’ve seen on an aggregator’s dashboards aren’t always accurate when you actually go and look at the listing in real-time. Some aggregators allow for changes to listing using their dashboard but we’ve had mixed results with the efficacy of this technology. Manually loading a listing gives a business owner the greatest amount of assurance that their business listings are accurate. Inaccurate listings can hurt ranking and confuse potential customers who are looking at your brand.
Responding to Reviews
Many directories such as Google, Yelp and Superpages allow a user to leave a review for your business’s listing. If you as the owner want to respond to that review, you will need to have the corresponding login information for that site. As we’ve mentioned earlier, aggregators don’t provide you with the login credentials for these directory sites so your online reputation can be negatively impacted with your inability to respond to reviews when you rely on aggregators.
Which uploading service is better equipped to handle a duplicate listing? It’s much easier to address duplicates when you have uploaded your listing manually. Manually uploaded listings are simpler to control because you own them, you have the username and password for each listing whereas with aggregators, more often than not, you don’ t have your login information and cannot access the listing directly on the directory. It’s much easier to work with support on issues & duplicate removal when you have an account and own your listing.
Aggregators can sometimes “steal” a listing from another valid owner with similar business details. We’ve seen this happen specifically in franchising where two locations have the same name and operate in proximity to one another. These aren’t easy to clean up or fix.
As you can see both methods have pros and cons and that’s why we use both methods at WebPunch. Overall, we prefer manual loading because of the ability to customize and quickly clean up erroneous information but the greatest problem with manual loading are the costs and time required to do it on hundreds of directories. Aggregators offer much greater visibility for the price. By incorporating both methods into our Local Listing Optimization mix, we offer our clients the best of both worlds to help them knock out the competition and build their brand to greater heights.
Call us today for a free local listing evaluation. Let us show you what we can do to give your business the greatest possible visibility in your marketplace.