I recently had the opportunity to offer my services as an expert witness in a case involving, of all things, a business listing on Yellowpages.com. In this case, the question was about “If the defendant sold his business, why is there a listing with the old phone number on Yellowpages.com?”
Another client called up and was concerned because she found that her personal address and phone number were on Yellowpages.com and a few other directory websites.
How does this happen, and what can you do about it?
How did your info end up on yellowpages.com?
Yellowpages.com tends to draw its data from any other data sources it can find. Here’s one example I’ve seen: a business license was issued and published on a county website. Not long after, a listing for that business appeared on yellowpages.com even though the address associated with the license was a home address rather than the business address.
It’s not uncommon for other web directories to take their data from yellowpages.com as a “trusted source” and use it on their own websites.
What can you do about wrong information?
Unfortunately, the only thing you can really do is to “claim” the listing on the site, and correct it. For active sites like yellowpages.com, that’s pretty straightforward. For older or out-of-date websites, sometimes it’s impossible.
Don’t be afraid to claim your business wherever you see it and correct the information. While google and other search engines are getting better and better at recognizing that mistakes happen and it doesn’t mean the business has moved or changed, it’s still best to have an accurate representation of yourself across sites.
How to get a grip on your online listings
It’s normal for most businesses to have wrong data out there about them. Luckily there are lots of companies out there designed to correct this data wherever it is, though no solution is 100% effective.
Luckily inaccurate listings don’t hurt you too bad nowadays, as long as you keep the “big” ones updated – Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.. Brightlocal and Moz Local (and yext) are designed around keeping these big ones accurate, but they charge a premium for it and I don’t use them very often. If you have online business listings that are out of control, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll tell you about a few options available to you.