Survey: Half Of Small Businesses Never Update Their Listings Online

2012 Year of the Small BusinessConstantContact’s SinglePlatform division has released the results of a new survey of small businesses (SMBs). The “headline” finding is that nearly half (49 percent) say they’ve never updated their listings online. The survey polled “more than 350″ SMBs.

Most small businesses are overwhelmed and confused by even basic online marketing. This is reflected in some of the seemingly contradictory findings of the survey:

  • 50 percent of SMBs have seen listings for their business that are not accurate
  • 70 percent of SMBs say they don’t have the time to manage listings on all of the sites that consumers use
  • Only 23 percent of SMBs have a good sense of how listings drive traffic to their business

What all this means is that most SMB listings are likely to be missing enhanced or “rich” content that consumers increasingly look for and rely on to help make purchase decisions. It also probably means that original errors in the listings (50 percent) are likely never corrected.

The overwhelming majority of these SMBs (85 percent) said it’s important for them to be found on major search sites, local search apps and directory sites. And 78 percent believe that new customers will find them through these sites and apps. A previous ConstantContact survey affirmed that the primary concern of small businesses is finding new customers.

Google has said in the past that roughly 20 percent of PC-based search is related to location and local information. The company has also formally and informally has said that between 40 percent and 50 percent of mobile search is about local information or location. Different business categories see different volumes of mobile vs. PC-based search.

Here are some additional findings from the survey:

  • 84 percent of SMBs believe that having a website that can easily be viewed on a mobile device is important to their business
  • Only 25 percent of SMBs know how to create a mobile optimized web site
  • 62 percent of SMBs think it is important to be seen on major mobile apps
  • 85 percent of SMBs believe that in the future more people will be looking for their business on mobile sites

Overall, these findings highlight or illustrate the challenges that US small businesses face in managing their online information — even something as seemingly basic as managing listings information. Services such as SinglePlatform, Yext and UBL seek to simplify that process by offering a single point of entry and then syndicating local data across the internet.

Yet despite these and other efforts to simplify online marketing and provide greater “transparency” about what works and what doesn’t the practical reality is that most SMBs are more confused than ever.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Mobile | Google: SEO | Search Engines: Location / Checkin Services | Search Engines: Maps & Local Search Engines | SEO: Local | SEO: Mobile Search | Stats: General | Stats: Search Behavior | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Nyagoslav Zhekov

    And this is even more scary when knowing how important business information consistency is for appropriate display in Google’s and Bing’s local search results, as well as for the search rankings.

  • Jerry Nordstrom

    Believe me if SMB’s saw a direct correlation between revenue realized and their local online marketing efforts they would be finding all sorts of time to tend to that garden. But they don’t. Why? Because understanding what works online for them means taking the time and capital to create a well designed website connected to Google analytics, generating reports and finding a person who can help them make sense of the data. Every new client I work with I conduct an analytics study then sit down with them to walk through the findings. Time and again they are fascinated at the level of information that is available to them about THEIR prospects! They are overcome with excitement that they have real opportunities to generate new business, and then they get a little T’d off.. that they have dragged their feet for so long and let this business pass by them. Here, right their in front of them their customers are telling them each and every day what they want, they just need to unlock the door by using Analytics.

    So what the SMB needs is to somehow get that spark, find the initial motivation to create a website reporting system with Google Analytics and spend at least a few days going over a report on their website that covers at least 60 days worth of traffic.
    Every SMB owner should dedicate themselves to finding that spark today.

    Never going to happen? Hire a pro for an initial analysis. Sure, Lead Discovery is more than willing to take the job, but I’ll be totally honest. You want an online marketing company that understands your line of business, and if they’re local to you so you can sit down together one on one, then all the better. So if you’re a local dentist find a local marketing outfit that has experience with dentistry. Marketing is not one size fits all.

    If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it so stop guessing and start making solid business decisions based on real time data.

  • Mikel Zaremba

    So true, Greg. Thank you for this information.

    I just consulted with a local business that expressed “I don’t know how it works, but I know it drives business. I just need someone to manage it, tell me what to do.”

    It’s sad to see.

    Ain’t no basic yellow pages listings anymore.

  • Justin Sous

    Exactly Nyagoslav. Google has created a system that is unmanageable for SMBs to handle on their own. Unless SMBs have a dedicated marketing team in-house, it seems like they’re required to hire an SEO firm to be able to compete in local.

  • Rachel Howe

    And that’s why the other half is probably killing them in local search!

  • Pankaj Kumar

    Thanks for making this data available. It is more than true. I have faced such problem when working for my clients. They have a lot of incorrect data over the web which needs to be fixed first to go further. But issue is that even after so many inconsistencies and issues Google is not able to take priority and value of business. Most of the business coming on first page have incorrect data or incomplete Google listing. Something should be done by Google for this problems so that businesses working correctly following all TOC of Google get benefits of that.

  • Greg Sterling

    Yep. For all the “transparency” of online marketing it’s more complicated and confusing for all these businesses who want to find a way to “set it and forget it.” Alas they cannot.

  • Lillian B. Fleming

    til I saw the draft saying $4250, I didnt believe …that…my
    neighbour was like they say really making money in there spare time on
    their laptop.. there sisters roommate haz done this 4 only 12 months and
    a short time ago repaid the dept on there cottage and bourt a gorgeous
    BMW 5-series. this is where I went, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Tracy Brown

    This seems to be an all-too-common issue. Recently I received an email from a client who needs to correct various listings for her business that include her personal cell phone number (versus her bricks and mortar number). Unfortunately, it’s not always a quick fix. I understand that entrepreneurs are anxious to “get online” (everywhere!) but being planful in the beginning can save valuable time down the road.

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