A record amount of brick and mortar stores are predicted to close in 2017. Retailers across the United States have announced plans to shutter more than 6,700 stores this year. That would top the previous all-time high of 6,163 store closings that occurred in 2008.
There are a lot of I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed in the event of a store closure and sometimes things can get overlooked. But while you move on to more profitable endeavours, there is one item that needs to be crossed off your to-do list. You must address the store closing on your local listings; should you forget, what was once a store closure will now continue to loom over your brand like a black cloud.
What happens to local listings after stores close?
You’ve heard it before… “Nothing ever really gets ‘deleted’ from the Internet”. The same holds true for your business listings. While your physical store may have shut down, your online listings will remain as they are. Unfortunately, many companies seem to overlook this aspect of local listings managment and thus, it continues to negatively affect customers’ perceptions of their brand long after the store has closed.
52% of customers have ended up at a closed business and 73% say they lose trust in the brand due to inaccurate local business listings. When a potential customer comes across your listing on sites like Google, Facebook Places or Yelp, they are trusting that this data is accurate and up-to-date. It becomes extremely frustrating for the customer when they drive out to your store location only to find that it has been closed. These types of negative experiences have a lasting impact on the way customers perceive your brand and can hinder future sales.
Financial impact of inaccurate local listings
In total,about $10.3 billion worth of potential annual sales are lost because of wrong, missing, or incomplete local business listing information. While forgetting to remove or address a store closure is the most extreme of scenarios, Inaccurate and outdated listing information is a persistent issue.
According to a report by the Local Search Association, 43% of retail stores and 41% of restaurants in the U.S. have at least one incorrect or missing address listed online. However, this is not a problem tied to one or two specific industries. Banking and financial (40%), real estate (57%) and insurance (55%) industries were all documented to have comparable levels of inaccurate listing data.
How to address your local business listings after a store closure
It is not possible to completely delete a listing from Google, or many other search directories. Business owners must set the location as "Permanently Closed" so that any future customers will actually see the shop is closed - rather than the listing completely vanishing.
Over time, as the listing drops in search rankings, it will fall off search results and eventually be deleted by the directory. That process can take months, or even years depending on the search traffic your listing has garnered over time.
Additionally, it is also a good idea to notify customers about the store closures via social media. Brands tend to take advantage of communicating store closures using Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. When doing this, you will want to inform the customer of the next closest location as well.
Google: Removing a single location from your account
- Sign in to Google My Business
- Be sure to use list view. If you are not in list view, click the list icon
- Select the boxes next to the locations you would like to remove.
- Click the three dot menu in the upper right corner of the page (You will not see this menu until you have selected one or more locations)
- Click Remove on the right side of the location list
- Review the information on the page that appears.
- Click Delete account to remove the location and all of its data from your accout
Facebook: Removing a single location
- Login to the profile that manages the page the app is on
- Click the “Settings” icon in the top right of the page and select “Account Settings”
- Click “Apps” on the left sidebar
- Click the “x” next to the app
- Click “Remove” when the confirmation window pops up
Yahoo: Removing a location
- Navigate to the “My Business's Page” on Yahoo. All of your businesses are listed on this page.
- Click the “Cancel” link next to the business that you want deleted.
- Click “Yes” to confirm the action and remove the listing. If you need, you can click “Reactivate” to reactivate the listing.
Shutting Down Multiple Locations For Your Business:
- Make sure that store hours are cleared from any listing, then be sure to mark the location as “Permanently Closed”. Different sites have different areas to select this. Google, Facebook, and Yelp all have different ways of publishing this status.
- Remove your listing from any paid services (ad campaigns, boosting posts, listing management etc.) that may be used to increase your rankings online.
- Remove any links to your listings that may exist on your main webpage.
- Leave your location alone and let it fall from search results.
- You can unpublish your Facebook page and delete it after a 14 day waiting period, by visiting “Settings on the page and deleting it from there.
Keeping track of hundreds (or thousands) of online listings is impossible for one person to do manually. It is crucial for businesses to have a listing management solution where they can manage and make corrections all from one complete dashboard. If you’d like to check for any listing inaccuracies, Chatmeter offers a FREE audit of your local business listings which you can find right HERE!