A marketing opportunity and a security challenge
Local business listings started with a basic business directory over a decade ago. Chances are your business has a local listing wherever you have a physical address. Check it out – go to Google, type in your business name. You will likely see a map locating your business and an address. Of course, you can also find other information. Local business listings are passively handled by many businesses. But that could be a mistake. You’ve probably read that prospects have something specific in mind when they shop. Then try this test. Go back to Google, type in the name of a product or service your business provides, and your hometown. Did your company introduce itself? If so: congratulations. If not: you are missing a major marketing opportunity.
The times have changed.
From a marketing perspective, the use of local business listings has exploded with the rise of social media and mobile devices. Consumers don’t just use these interactive yellow pages to locate a business, product or service in their area; they also publish reviews of these products and services. Today, there are over 60 local business listing websites on the Internet in five different categories. They include search engines, social communities, 411 websites (also known as yellow page websites), GPS websites, and that age-old business directory.
You can no longer be passive.
To make your interactive yellow pages listing a more powerful marketing tool, you must first “claim” the listing with all the search engines, social communities, websites, and organizations that lead people to it. Once you’ve proven that the list truly belongs to you, you can update it with your company’s marketing materials and instill social media monitoring. Companies are realizing the importance of this complaints process. Once you’ve claimed your local listing, you can update the information with text, keywords, business descriptions, products, services, photos, videos, coupons, and more. Some websites, such as Google, allow you to use all of these options while others charge fees for enhanced listings that make this information available to local consumers via web or mobile searches.
So what is the “security challenge”?
The complaints process is critical to security because if the wrong person accesses your business’s local listing, they can direct customers to another location by phone or website address. Additional damages may include incorrect information on photos, videos, coupons, etc. Since consumers use local business listings to locate a business, product, or service in their immediate area, security around local business listings should be a high priority for any local listings website.
Phishing was described in 1987 before the internet experienced a commercial boom. The first recorded use of phishing dates back to 1996. The question is whether the business sector will wait for something similar to happen using Local Business Listings. The security vulnerabilities are pretty obvious with local business listings and I don’t think it takes a genius to see what could happen if businesses don’t “claim” their listings – the first step to filling those” holes”.
When hackers capture a local listing, it’s called a “hack.”
It’s absolutely important that businesses don’t passively wait for local listing websites to implement the proper security before claiming your listing. Installing security starts with the obvious claiming process, but many sites allow inserting data from other databases on the internet and I’m not sure there is good security around that subsequent process. If someone wanted to hijack a local business listing, they could easily insert the wrong information through a low-level business directory that sells their data upline or inserts their data directly into a higher-level local listing website. .
While major search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo have “some” front-end security; their APIs (Application Programming Interface) make them vulnerable through the backdoor. Data is provided to their local listings from third-party sources, including “get listing” services. Also, if someone cannot easily claim an ad, the process of these local ad websites allows anyone to submit additional ads with the same address.