The single most important factor in online search success is simple and cheap to fix – and your competitors couldn’t be bothered!
Most small and medium enterprises know that SEO is important to get their businesses found online. What many of them don’t realize is that a lot of customers aren’t even going to go as far as the website. Instead they’ll look at your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) data as it appears in the search engine or online directory they prefer to use. If it’s wrong, they’ll try again, but it may not be your business that they contact.
In addition, wrong or inconsistent NAP data could get your carefully crafted website downgraded in search results. Like consumers, search engines don’t like confusing, wrong or missing data. How serious is this problem?
Consumers give us the low down on how they find you
Consumer behavior surveys give us a pretty clear indication of how people find businesses. Bear in mind that 80 – 85% search online rather than using an old-fashioned phone-book.
- 59% of consumers search for local businesses online every month. A further 17% do a few times every year.
- 71% of consumers said they like the convenience of local search results and will likely choose the businesses they find in search.
- 60% said a listing with a photograph was more appealing than a regular listing.
- Local modifiers (such as a town or suburb) are used by 54% of search engine users. Young users are less likely to use them than older ones. 38% said that search engines would find businesses near them reliably.
This data tells us that consumers see local search as being very important. This can work to your advantage, but does it?
Is local search working for you, and if not, why not?
First, let’s look at how your NAP data affects your search engine rankings. Marketing analytics firm Moz has already determined just how much NAP data affects your rankings.
- Consistent NAP data on your own website: 18.8%
- Consistent NAP data on external sites such as Yelp: 16%
- Correct Google Places data: 19.6%
That gives us 54.4% effect on your search engine rankings overall. That’s huge! If there’s one single thing that can improve your search engine rankings in local search, that’s your NAP data.
Just how consistent and complete is your NAP data likely to be?
That depends. If you haven’t checked all the places where your NAP data appears, chances are good there are inconsistencies. Here’s what the status quo looks like for small and medium enterprises:
- 85% of business owners believe that local searches and directories are important.
- 50% say they are aware that their listings aren’t all correct.
- 70% said they don’t have the time to check and update all listings.
So here we have a tool that 85% think is important, but only 30% will ever act on. Are you looking for a competitive edge? This could just be the ideal vehicle.
Wrong NAP info gives search engines the heebie jeebies.
- False business location: Your number one killer with search engines according to Moz.
- Inconsistent NAP info: Third biggest killer.
So 70% of businesses aren’t acting to address two of the biggest search engine ranking killers out there. They spend plenty on getting their websites set up, but this small, but absolutely vital detail is overlooked.
How many business listings are actually wrong or inconsistent? Get this: 87% of listings have issues!
What do consumers want to know?
Consumers ranked info on businesses in order of subjective importance as follows. Look out. There are some surprises here!
- 67% Address
- 67% Phone number
- 58% Proximity
- 58% Business hours
- 57% Company name
- 55% Website address
- 53% Pricing
- 52% General info about products and services offered.
- 38% Reviews
Branding experts may gnash their teeth. What consumers want to know even more than they want to know your business’ name is where they can find you, how they can contact you, and whether you’ll be open for business.
You don’t have time and you don’t know where to look. What can you do?
Now that we know the importance of correct NAP data, we can only begin to imagine how getting it right will improve your sales and sales leads. Obviously, the right thing to do is to fix NAP data, but where does this data actually come from, and how does it get all over the worldwide web?
“Web” is the right way to term the data ecosystem that gets correct and incorrect data published just about everywhere without your intervention. It’s an incredibly complex flow, and if you want to play detective, finding out just where incorrect data originally came from can turn into a job for a master-sleuth. Here’s a simplified version.
It all starts with big data
I’m betting you’ve never even heard about these guys, but they’re the source of information files that all the major data disseminators use.
Step one is clearly to get your listings right with these big players.
Step two will be speeding the process by tackling your data on the big directory sites:
- And others
But now you still have the problem of goodness knows what NAP data that is out of date or incorrect floating around in smaller directory sites. There could be tens or even hundreds of places with your NAP data, and if it’s wrong, we’ve seen what the effects can be. Apart from making you difficult to reach, incorrect NAP info is going to hurt search engine rankings. Obvious ones to check will include:
- Industry-based directories such as Healthgrades.com
- And so on, and so on.
No wonder so many business owners say they simply don’t have the time to update NAP info. Supposing they know about this data trail, they’ll also know just how hard it is to track down all the errors that have permeated the internet and get them fixed.
Do it the easy way
If you can’t do it the hard way, do it the easy way. FixMyInfo will give you a free report indicating what the extent of your problem is. Then you can decide if you want it fixed.
If you do, you’ll get monthly reports showing how expert online sleuths are fixing all that wrong info for you, and you should start seeing results in search engine rankings, feet through the door, and calls from interested consumers. Why wait for your competitors to catch on? Be the first!