Recently I’ve been thinking about one of my all-time favorite movies: National Lampoon’s Vacation.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a family that travels half-way across the country to visit an amusement park. When they finally arrive, the park has been closed for renovations.

In today’s world, the storyline of the movie seems even more ridiculous than it did when it was released in 1983.

With 65 percent of adults now walking around with a smartphone in their pocket, consumers shouldn’t have to travel across the country, or even across the street to see if a business is open.

Unfortunately, these situations still happen all the time.

Just the other day I found myself standing in front of one my favorite local businesses — a coffee shop in my neighborhood — staring at a closed sign on the door.

Unlike Clark Griswold, who led his family on the wild vacation, I had the benefit of using my phone to check the business’s hours before leaving my apartment.

But while the business’s website and Google listing said hours: 6 a.m. – 7 p.m., the sign on the door read winter hours: 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. It was 5:30 p.m. when I arrived.

 It’s likely I’m not the only potential customer who found themselves in that position.

And while I’ve already been back twice since the mix-up, there’s probably a handful of potential customers who will be less likely to return.

This is why keeping your listings up-to-date is important.

49 percent of small businesses have never updated their listing information.

That means that when potential customers are finding their information on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, or YellowPages, they could be at risk of being left out in the cold.

On the flipside, if you are taking steps to control your information, your business could have a huge advantage.

Consider the following:

  • 75 percent of smartphone owners use their mobile device to get real-time location-based information. (Pew Internet).
  • 90 percent of mobile searches lead to an action. (Source:
  • 70 percent of people who ran a local search via mobile, acted within an hour (Source: CMO Council).

People aren’t only searching for your information; they are acting on it.

By making sure they are finding the right information, you can give your business a whole new way to create customer relationships, and do more business.

The key to taking control of your listings is to make sure consumers can find the information they need to take their desired actions.

This starts with things like hours, location, payment methods, phone number, or a link to your website.

But this could also include a link to your menu, additional contact information, or photos of your storefront, interior shots, staff, or products.

Then, identify the websites where your business is already listed.

These sites will help you get a sense of what type of information people are finding online.

You can use a chart like the one below, to keep yourself organized.

rpStarted with Social Media_Toolkit

Once you have this information under control, you can identify new opportunities for your business.

There are a number of industry-specific listing sites that a lot of businesses are not aware of.

Because you’ve already put in the hard work to take control of your information, getting set up on new listing sites should be pretty simple. Keep your information handy in a Word doc, or Excel spreadsheet so you can copy and paste.

This will not only save you time, but will be your go-to resource when you need to update your information in the future.

Ready to get started?

We recently released a new guide, The Mechanics of Local Listings: How Small Businesses Can Take Control and Reach New Customers.

This guide is designed to help you understand the mechanics of local listings, so you can answer the following questions:

  • How are consumers finding listings through local search?
  • Where does local listing information come from?
  • How can I make sure my business has a quality local search presence?

It has everything you need to take control of your listings. Download the guide and get started today!

Tip: When the guide opens, you can right click and save the document to refer back to later — simply right click and Save As. You can also right click on the link itself and Save As. Or, you can print it directly from your browser!