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The Mattoon Chamber encourages the community to use all the tools and resources available for their businesses to succeed. Updated and dynamic websites, Facebook pages, and search engine listings are all keys to business success. Internet usage has exploded over the past 10 years. According to Statista.com in 2007 there was an average of 1.3 billion internet users worldwide. In 2017 there were over 3.5 billion users worldwide. In the United States alone over 75 percent of the population now has access to and uses the internet. Statista reports that easier access to computers, modernization of countries and increased utilization of smartphones has lead to this surge in use.

Internet Live Stats.com tracks search engine statistics and lists Google as the number one search engine with over 78 percent of all searches worldwide completed on their site. When Google was founded in September of 1998 it was serving 10,000 searches per day. Today, Google processes over 40,000 searches per second and over 3.5 billion per day.

Clearly it is important that the information on Google's search engine is up to date and accurate for area businesses to succeed. In most cases the internet is a great tool and resource for businesses and consumers. Unfortunately some individuals take advantage of the popularity of Google and other sites for unethical activity. Lake Land Florals, Mattoon Flower Shop, Matanky Realty Group along with our community were being taken advantage of by one of these individuals.

A while back, Mattoon Flower Shop and Lake Land Florals brought to the Chambers attention that "Added Touch Flowers & Gifts" represented itself as an actual business in Mattoon located at 1504 Lake Land Boulevard. The company never existed in Mattoon and the address they listed is an available storefront owned by Matanky Realty Group. They were taking business away from legitimate services already located in Mattoon. We did not realize how difficult it is to remove a false listing until we spent a great deal of time and effort contacting the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Attorney General's office and Google to try to remove this "Company" from the internet. It wasn't until last week that Google removed the improper listing for this non existent business.

We encourage all local businesses to regularly review their information and their competitor's information on Google and other search engines for accuracy and protection of their services. The internet is a great resource and its use is expanding every day. When used correctly the internet is one of the key components for business success.

Ed Dowd is the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce.

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