"Considering this is how I make a living," Richardson said to association members Tuesday morning.
Richardson made the unfortunate discovery while attending the Google-sponsored Local U: Baltimore conference at the Hilton Garden Inn in White Marsh.
"What happens to us small businesses is ... how your business is listed affects how it turns up online," Richardson said. "Your information might not be listed like you think."
She explained how over the course of many years business owners may create websites or digital footprints using different identifiers, such as shortening "Service" to "Svc."
Her first tip to the group: "Keep it consistent."
She pointed to the website GetListed.org, which provides business owners a snapshot of how easily search-able their business is across commonly used search engines. Richardson's score was below 50 percent.
She said she discovered her 30-year-old business had been listed six different ways across Google, Bing, Yelp and Foursquare among other search engines.
Following the seminar, Richardson said she spent about an hour and a half tracking down all of her online listings, syncing and sprucing content along the way. Her score as of Tuesday rose to over 60 percent.
"You can impact how people see you other there," Richardson said.
Former Perry Hall Patch editor Emily Kimball also attended the Local U conference for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. In her new position, Kimball compiled a succinct:
Among her tips, Kimball encouraged readers to blog, use social media, be proactive about online reviews and, like Richardson, make your business information consistent across all platforms—all of which you can get started on Patch.
- Start a blog, answering questions in your field of expertise.
- Push for positive reviews, and answer negative ones.
- Add events to our calendar.
- Update your information.
- Post new photographs or videos.
>>> All businesses large and small, should also be proactive on social media sites. Not up on the latest social media trends? Follow Perry Hall Patch on Facebook and Twitter, and we'll show you how it's done.