In April Implied Intelligence, a data service provider, conducted a study that measured for accuracy the listings 1,000 independent local businesses across 19 local search providers and directories. The 19 providers included the usual suspects such as Yelp, Bing, Google Maps, and Foursquare. There were also some less well known ones like Superpages, DexKnows and YellowPages. The results were quite surprising.
The same study was conducted in early June and the results were then compared. The most improved service was Bing. Bing ranked fourth in April and now stands at third. YellowPages and Superpages remain the most accurate sites—YellowPages ranked second in April but is now the most accurate site—and Google Maps is the loser of the top four, falling to fourth in the current rankings.
The lesson for the social media agency is not necessarily clear. Foursquare had the most incomplete data set, but that is also because Foursquare depends upon user input, which limits it to certain business types. Foursquare also provides a different sort of interaction with the business than Superpages does. What is important for the social media agency, however, is to continually check up on the listings for accuracy. There are rumors, as yet unsubstantiated so it may just be urban myth, that some businesses will altar the data of a competitor to be false thus driving traffic to its business.
Even if the source of error is not conspiracy, vigilance remains important for when confirming data. This study shows that even though progress is being made by most of the services, there is still error that will remain undiscovered without outside prompting.