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When a potential customer or patient is doing research looking for a business, they often don’t have a specific website. This is especially true for service businesses such as medical and legal practices. For information they turn to business information sites. 

But they often find incorrect information on these listings, and that incorrect information makes them less likely to patronize the business. More specifically, a recent study points to roughly two thirds of potential customers/patients not using that business/practice after encountering incorrect information on an information or listing. 

Since this is how many potential patients and clients find our MyAdvice medical and legal practices, let’s get into this for October’s first scary blog. 

Accuracy is important 

At MyAdvice, we’ve always harped on the importance of consistency and accuracy across directories. That’s because of the effect these inconsistencies have on search engine optimization. The logic of search algorithms doesn’t understand that one directory with an office listing of Suite 100 and another with an office listing of #100 are the same practice. They assume these are different practices. The same is true of “Avenue” versus “AVE” or “Ave.” Those kinds of inconsistencies across the various directories on the web confuse search algorithms and they punish the sites in organic ranking. 

But a recent survey by BrightLocal looked at what happened with consumer behavior, regardless of SEO, when they encountered incorrect information. The findings are an interesting cautionary tale for practices that are sloppy with their information. 

What are these business information sites? 

Business information sites are any listing a potential consumer/patient may use to find a business. Google, Google Maps, Yelp, Siri, Bing, Facebook, HealthGrades … anywhere a potential customer would first look to find a business. These, obviously, are a mix of search engines, social media, map providers, and directories. 

This is almost universal behavior, as the BrightLocal study found 94 percent of consumers used an online directory or information site to find information about a new or previously used business in the past 12 months. The study allowed multiple reasons for using these sites. The study found 66 percent of consumers used business information sites to find new businesses, and 66 percent found information on businesses they were already aware of but had not yet used. But this wasn’t only “new” customers/patients, the data show 48 percent of consumers use listings to find information on businesses they have used before. They could be checking the address, the hours, special offers, and other reasons. 

Incorrect information 

Trust is important for consumers and any business, but it’s especially true for medical practices of all specialties. But the study found incorrect, incomplete, or conflicting information on these sites that challenged patient trust. 

  •     85% of respondents found incorrect or incomplete information about a business
  •     77% found conflicting information for the same business on different business information sites
  •     75% contacted/visited a business but it didn’t offer the product of service that is said it did online

This shows over three quarters of the people found incorrect or inconsistent information on these potential businesses they were researching. It can be something as simple as summer hours still up in the fall, or something as big as a procedure listed that the practice no longer offers. 

Why does accurate information matter? 

It’s easy to brush some of these findings aside, but your potential and current patients don’t. In the study 63% of respondents said, “Finding incorrect information on a business listing would stop me from using that business.” That means incorrect or inconsistent information can make roughly two thirds of potential patients turn away from giving your practice a shot. 

On the flip side, only 8% of respondents said they definitely wouldn’t be stopped from using a business due to incorrect listings. 

What issues with listings most affect patient trust? 

When diving into the reasons people lost trust in these potential businesses, questions asked which types of incorrect information was the most damaging to their trust. 

  •     66% Incorrect phone number
  •     60% Incorrect address
  •     49% Incorrect business name
  •     48% Incorrect opening hours
  •     46% Incorrect email address
  •     45% Incorrect photos

While phone numbers and addresses are the most damaging, who wants to throw away half your potential patients with something like an incorrect email link? 

Bottom line 

Trust is one of the most important factors potential patients need to patronize your practice. Different potential patients can build that trust through different means. Some will search through medical directories where practices are reviewed and rated. Others looking for a dentist to replace a tooth, for instance, may simply hit Google and type in “Dental implants near me” and see what pops up. 

Regardless of how potential patients and clients are looking for your practice, if they find inconsistent, incorrect, or conflicting information there is one near certainty — they’re going to abandon your practice as a potential provider of the procedure, service, or treatment they’re seeking and look elsewhere. 

We knew inconsistent/incorrect practice information harmed your practice in search engine optimization and rankings. Now we also know, thanks to this data, that it directly impacts behavior, namely closing the door on your practice as a potential provider. 

If you want to improve your consistency across the web, our Local Power tool at MyAdvice does just that. It gives you one convenient portal to manage your listings and information across the web. If you’re interested in Local Power (and this study says you should be) fill out the contact form on this page and let’s talk.

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