One of the drawbacks of being a local business is that you don’t have the brand name recognition of the big box stores and services. New customers might therefore be a little hesitant to do business with you, especially online. Add to that the fact that many business directories contain listings that are no longer valid and you can have a real credibility problem. Imagine the frustration a customer might feel after going to the trouble to locate, say, a dry cleaners in their neighborhood only to discover on arrival that the business has closed its doors.
For this reason, most business directories and listing services offer some type of “merchant verified” badge or status, which ensures that all of the information provided is valid and up to date. The benefits of being a verified merchant are threefold.
1) Get Preferential Positioning in Business Directories
Business directories loathe the idea of listing defunct businesses or incorrect information, but seldom have the resources to verify each and every listing. Therefore, when a business takes the time and provides sufficient information to achieve verified status, they are naturally listed ahead of unverified businesses.
The more directories in which your business has achieved verified status, the better your overall search engine rankings.
2) Gain Your Customers’ Trust
There are so many fly-by-night companies that appear and disappear, seemingly overnight, that customers are understandably wary of listings that provide little information or have not been verified by the directory or some other verification service. Let your customers know that you’re serious about providing them a secure shopping experience and will not hide behind a veil of anonymity.
Even if you’re not doing business online, that’s where your customers are searching for you, and where they will look for you again when they’re ready to redeem their coupon, verify their appointment time, or make a claim on their warranty. They need to know they will always be able to find you.
3) Claim Your Google, Bing, Yelp and YellowPages.com Listings
While many Yellow Page type directories including Merchant Circle, Manta, HotFrog, and Best of the Web do not require verification, you cannot claim your business listings on Google, Bing, Yelp, or YellowPages.com without undergoing a special verification process. This protects you from having someone else fraudulently claim your listings.
These are major search directories that you will want to leverage to the max, so it’s worth taking the extra time to verify your information. Then you can also provide a description of your products or services along with photographs, hours of operation, and more. And most importantly, when users see that your page has been claimed and verified on these major sites, they will have a much higher comfort level doing business with you.
In a nutshell, on the Internet, information is power. A savvy business owner strives to provide as much information as possible to potential customers, and becoming a verified merchant online lets customers know that they can trust that information.