ICS Magazine

Is Your Company Getting Hijacked Online?

November 1, 2012
man screaming digital looking green
The web is the primary route many of your current clients go to find your company. Yes, some may get your phone number from your Yellow Pages ad, refrigerator magnet, leave-behind spot remover or client newsletter. But the fact is that the web is just easier to access. Additionally, higher income homeowners are more likely to rely on the Internet for their information. So it would make sense that most of your current clients look you up online when they need your service again. But are they finding your correct company information online?
Here are a few cases where cleaning companies have run into big problems because their online profiles contained incorrect information:

The case of the wrong phone number

Ralph Greco owns Janssen’s Cleaning and Restoration Consultants, started in 1939, in Glendale, CA. Ralph received a distressed call from a long-time client. The client had looked up Janssen’s on Google. The number one listing for Janssen’s led to a directory site called Manta. She called the phone number that appeared in the Manta directory under the Janssen’s name. But when she called, something didn’t seem right. She reluctantly went on to book the appointment. And she would have booked if she didn’t confirm one last time that she was indeed speaking with Janssen’s. To her horror, she found it wasn’t Janssen’s, but instead one of their local competitors. The phone number in the Manta listing was wrong.
She eventually found the correct number and called Ralph to let him know of the problem. Ralph contacted Manta and eventually had his listing removed. “Not only did the listing under my company name have the wrong phone number, but the wrong web address too,” Ralph says. “They initially wanted me to pay them for advertising to change the false information. I told them no and they did take my listing down.
“I think it’s very important to regularly check your company profiles yourself or have someone do it for you.” 
The scary part is that we don’t know how many of Ralph’s other clients may have called and actually booked a job with the wrong company.

Competitor claimed the profile

In another case, in which I won’t mention company names, a competitor maliciously claimed several profiles. In many online directories, it’s fairly easy for anyone to go into a company profile, claim it and change information. In one instance, a local competitor claimed a few profiles and changed the phone number to his own number. This sometimes happens on even the most well-known directories. When your beloved client finds your company listing, she assumes it’s the correct phone number. But when she calls, she may not be speaking with the right company. Claiming and routinely checking all your directory profiles can prevent misinformation from showing up.

Lead generation phone numbers gone haywire

Sometimes special phone numbers are created when you get lead generation done through services like Service Magic or Reach Local. What happens is the lead generation company sets up a separate website or web page with a special lead generation phone number that is used to track your leads. When the Google bots see this new phone number, they can get confused about your real company phone number. On a few occasions, I’ve seen Google identify a company by the lead generation phone number thinking the real phone number was wrong information. This causes a variety of problems. The biggest problem is once you end your contract with the lead generation company, the lead generation phone number no longer forwards to your company phone. And even during the relationship with the company, you may pay for too many leads. Lastly, with the misperceived information, Google may not rank your website as highly in their natural ranking search. Your best bet is to not use lead generation phone numbers online or at least minimize how the phone number is used. If the phone number is only used inside a graphic, the possibility for your phone number going haywire is limited.
It’s important to understand that many online directories get their information, right or wrong, from other information already on the web. A misspelled company name, phone number or address can lead to dozens of incorrect directories and lost revenue. This could be the result of either human error or machine error.
What can you do to keep this from happening to you? Surely you want to keep your hard-earned clients calling you instead of your competition. Here’s an action list to prevent your company from getting hijacked:
  1. Claim your directories and online profiles. This will allow you to correct your company information. 
  2. Familiarize your clients with your web address. Post your website on all your client newsletters, postcards and leave-behind literature.
  3. Check your profiles every few months. Look up your company name on Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Look at all the results. Make sure the information about your company is accurate.
The question: Can your clients find you online? Or are they mistakenly calling your competitor? Often times, you’ll have many listings that come in the searches. Check them out by searching your company name along with several variations of your company name and your city name. You may be surprised at what you find.