Neil Patel is an acknowledged guru in online marketing. Simply put, the guy knows what he is talking about, and he presents things in a very easy-to-understand format. No time wasting here – just facts, support for the facts and direct actions to take.
Read this article taken from Entrepreneur.com – it really shows just how important your “NAP” (Name Address Phone #) data is, and this, well beyond just listings.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) can be tricky. Not only do you have to do all the customary SEO stuff, but then you have to do a new layer of complex SEO activities. Most tech-savvy local-business owners have a decent idea of how to do local SEO, but diving to a deeper level can get confusing.
For example, most people think that in order to have successful local SEO, you must have directory listings. This is true — to a point. First, though, you have to make sure that several other things are in order. (Directory listings don’t come first in local SEO.)
Then you have to make sure that you’re getting listed with the rightlocal directories. Also, you have to know how and where to find the local directories that are unique to your geographical area. Plus, you have to ensure that you are optimizing for your geospecific hyperlocal neighborhood, not just the general location of your business.
Like I said, things can get confusing.
In order to address some of these major issues, I’ve explained the top five things that most people forget about local SEO. If you want local search traffic, you need to make sure that you go through each of the five issues in this article. What you’re about to read could be a huge boon for your local SEO.
1. Accuracy and consistency in online listings.
The most important component of local SEO is a trinity of information known as the NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. Some people call it the NAP+W, adding in the Website for good measure. Any local optimizer knows this much. So far, so good.
What can get confusing, though, is the accuracy and consistency of this information.
A ConstantContact survey revealed some discouraging trends among SMBs. While 85 percent of small businesses say that it’s important for them to be found on local search apps and directories, only half of these businesses have ever updated their online listings! Fifty percent of these businesses know they have inaccurate listings, but 70 percent say that they just don’t have the time to update them at all!
This is bad news. The No. 1 negative local ranking factor, according to Moz, is a “listing detected at false business location.” The third biggest negative ranking factor is a mismatched NAP. Ouch. Inaccuracies like these will kill your local SEO.
Clearly, small and local businesses are facing a severe challenge when it comes to getting local listings. Let me break this down into two specific areas — accuracy and consistency, and why they matter so much.
Accuracy of NAP
Local search engines use the NAP as a measuring stick of accuracy for a business’s existence. In order for the local search engine or directory to validate the presence of your local business, it must make sure that every point of data aligns perfectly.
So, for example, if your business name is Charlie’s Killer Crepes, and you accidentally type Charlies’ Killer Crepes (a misplaced apostrophe) in your citation, then the directory might register your business inaccurately.
Think about it. If it’s just a matter of creating listings, then there could be a lot of confusion between businesses. How many “cupcake” boutiques are in New York City? Or how many “Financial Services” institutions are in Manhattan? In order for a business to be legitimate, it has to have all three of these pieces of information — name, address, and phone — and they all have to correspond in every citation across the local landscape.
Consistency of NAP
The other issue to keep in mind is consistency.The NAP must be consistent across all the local directories, mentions, citations, and listings.
Moz puts it this way:
Consistent NAP information is essential to getting more citations and improving search engine rankings.
Have you checked how your business is listed throughout engines,
directories and review sites?
The information on Yelp must be consistent with the information on Google+, which must be consistent with the information on Foursquare, which must be consistent with the Local Small Business Association, and on and on.
This is probably the most challenging feature for a company wanting local rank. Why? Because business information changes. One day, your business might decide to change its name a little bit, or to switch to an 800 number. Or you might move to a different location.
How do you prevent your local SEO from tanking due to lack of consistency?
It’s not easy. In order to make sure that every local citation is consistent, you can either hire someone to track down every citation and change it, or you can do it yourself.
All of local SEO begins here — with the obvious NAP. But it goes further, with the not-so-obvious issues of accuracy and consistency. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Has my business ever changed names? (Name)
Has my business ever changed locations? (Address)
Has my business ever changed phone numbers? (Phone)
If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may want to embark on some local SEO citation remediation. Track down every one of your local citations, and make sure they are accurate and consistent.
2. All the other valuable information in directory listings.
It’s easy to get listed in local directories. It’s not easy to fill out these local directories to their maximum potential.
Creating a local listing is time-consuming and tedious. But that’s exactly what a local business must do if it wants to rank. This is where we get into one of the oft-overlooked features of local SEO. These directories should be filled out with as much information as possible.
A study from the Local Search Association/Burke Inc. revealed that when consumers search for a local listing, they want to see the following information:
This is why it’s important to fill out those directories as completely as possible. Every added citation gives you a little local SEO uptick. The more complete you make that online listing, the better you’ll do for customers who actually look at your entry. They want information — lots of it.