Over the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the way consumers seek out information about a business: from desktop, to mobile, to voice search (now 20% of searches according to Google).  The information provided in response to queries is also changing, with more precise answers tailored to the individual asking the questions.  

Most worryingly, when a person performs a voice search, they often only receive one answer in response, which means it’s no longer good enough to rank second. If you’re not number one, you won’t be discovered.  This will make the search landscape more competitive than ever.

To accommodate this shift, search engines have moved towards mobile-friendly results across the board, favouring locally-optimised information determined by relevance, proximity and prominence.  According to Google, nearly one-third of all mobile searches are performed by people looking for businesses nearby.  Of these local searches, 76% convert to a business visit within one day and 28% of those visits result in a purchase.

Why should a business care about digital knowledge management?

Digital knowledge is at the centre of this search ecosystem, powering results that provide searchers with useful information about people, products and places of interest: What time does a restaurant open and close?  What are today’s specials?  Are there any promotions running?   Ensuring the search ecosystem presents the searcher with all the correct information they require will result in increased traffic and revenue, more inbound phone calls, e-commerce transactions and you getting the business over your competitors.

But what if the facts presented about the business are wrong?  What’s the impact on a business and the customer experience, especially in a world where people want accurate and complete information in the moment?

In a survey we conducted among 2,000 UK consumers, 80% said they had encountered incorrect online information about a business, and over half of them said it is not a rare occurrence.  This information included data about opening hours, products and services, phone numbers, addresses and promotions.  The most worrying statistic is that nearly half of all consumers blame the business itself for data issues encountered in its online presence, affecting their reputation.

Here are five key things a business can do to ensure it is prominent and relevant at every consumer interaction:

1) Think about the whole digital ecosystem

You need a vibrant and active presence. This isn’t just Google and Facebook, you need to include Snapchat, Instagram, Uber, Bing, car GPS systems, maps, apps, Apple, Yelp etc.

2) Maintain and manage accurate business data

A business must be able to manage and maintain accurate facts and attributes including locations, opening hours, menu options, reservations, products and ensure this data is accurate and represented on web pages per individual locations. It’s imperative to have a robust internal system to centralise this data or find partners to automate this. Managing this data manually is extremely labour and time intensive especially if you have hundreds of locations.

3) Deploy rich localised content

The richer the information about your business, the better. Include photos and videos, business descriptions, products, service offerings, local promotions and events, Snapchat Geofilters etc.

4) Create relevant, real-time content

Create an agile strategy that enables the business to continuously deliver fresh content, as fresh content drives prominence.

5) Implement a consumer review strategy

Consumer reviews, not just opinion, now impact and affect organic search results.  Make sure your business has a robust consumer reviews strategy in place which includes brand, product and location reviews right down to an individual location level.

Businesses can increase their share of intelligent search, the new way that people are searching, by establishing a digital knowledge management strategy about their people, places and products. This will help them to take control of the public facts about their business across the whole ecosystem. These facts will be increasingly influential in signalling to search engines and voice search AI, for example, that you fulfil the needs of the searcher.

 

By Jon Buss, managing director at Yext UK & Northern Europe


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