Think about your business’s timeline for a moment… From your startup days in your home, to the office space you have now.
As economies change and businesses scale it’s common for businesses to change locations. And when you move to a new office or location there’s a lot to keep in mind. This includes updating your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on things like utilities, bank accounts, mail, service providers, and other bills.
But… let’s not forget about your online presence.
Going into Google, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare and any other business listings to update your information isn’t the easiest of tasks despite how simple it may seem.
Depending on how long your business has been in operation, you may be listed in dozens of directories and channels on the web. They all likely have different passwords, which makes the process even more demanding. And once you login, depending on how many you have, it could take hours updating each one to ensure consistency.
Your Name Address, Phone Number & Other Citation References
Before we share 7 helpful tips for ensuring online consistency, let’s review the importance of your online citations.
A citation is any reference made to your business information throughout the internet with regards to your name, address, phone number and any other defining feature (like an exterior photo of your business). This identifying information for a business plays a significant factor in optimizing your online presence.
When a search engine or map tool is ranking sites locally for an end-users query it will consider all relevant business citations and their geographical proximity to the user when generating search results. If your information is inconsistent, it can cause your site to rank lower than competitors because of a lack of trustworthiness by the search engine.
Because of this, it’s imperative that you maintain a strong and uniform web presence.
What Other Components of a Local Listing are Important?
As we stated, local listing consists of vital information, abbreviated as NAP(W), which includes the business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL.
However, it doesn’t end there. To truly stand out, take advantage of the opportunity to include additional information, such as:
- Business description
- Business category
- Company photos
- Hours of operation
- Payment forms accepted
- Holiday hours
- Customer reviews
- Links to social platforms
- Email address
Customers appreciate when businesses go the extra mile in providing information. So, supplement relevant information to provide a more holistic view of your brand. This not only impresses potential customers but helps search engines like Google gain a better understanding of your business — this comes in handy when improving your online ranking.
So, invest some time and effort to diligently flesh out your local listing. Fill out as many components as possible with accurate and updated information — this helps establish your brand’s identity and builds trust with potential customers. Be thorough, informative and let your local listing do the heavy lifting to attract a loyal customer base.
Consistency – The Critical Element to Your Local Search Rankings
Inaccurate business information will not only hinder your ability to rank highly on search engines, but also leads to a number of problems for your customers, colleagues, and potential business partners.
Client, Customer & Partner Confidence
If a customer or potential business partner searches for your business and finds different addresses, phone numbers, and different variations of your name they may become skeptical and lose confidence in dealing with your company. This may raise concerns that you may not be a reliable or trustworthy business.
Eliminate Missed Opportunities
When your business has citation inconsistencies you run the risk of missing out on potential customers and sales opportunities. If a user runs a search in their current geographical location for relevant business keywords to your company and your site does not come up due to mistakes in your business information then you will miss out on this possible sale. Missed opportunities like this can be costly if they are occurring frequently.
7 Ways to Ensure Listing Accuracy & Power Your Local SEO
The reality is if your business is beyond the startup stages and has been in existence for some time it can be near impossible to track down and rectify every variation and possible citation referencing your business on the web without a proper tool.
Before we get started on ways to optimize your business listings, use our free online presence checker to see how accurately you’re referenced on the web:
1. Double-check your business name
You may think it’s straightforward to provide your business name on local listings. There are a few considerations to be aware of, though. First, make sure your business name matches what appears on your website, logo, physical sign, and Google My Business. Otherwise, your audience may get confused about your actual name.
This may sound like a no-brainer, however, it’s actually fairly common. The most obvious inconsistency is if your business name is spelled as one word but listed as two. For instance: “RentSafe” vs. “Rent Safe.”
Even if your business has multiple locations, Google prefers you only include the business name and not the location as part of the title. Avoid including any keywords in your business name as well. There are fields on Google My Business and most online directories where you can input this type of information so search engines read your business details properly.
2. Listing addresses and phone numbers
Always double- and triple-check that your address and phone number are accurate. Don’t include P.O. boxes, just real physical location addresses. If your business doesn’t have a physical address – for example, if you provide a service to your general local area without a storefront – you can let Google know that when you create your listing. They will hide your street address, whether it’s your home address or some other location that you don’t want to appear with your business name. Note that you have to list an address when creating a Google My Business profile, even if you hide it from the listing.
As far as your phone number, you can use either a local, vanity, or toll-free number for your online listing. Just make sure you use the same phone number on all your outlets, including your website and other local citations and profiles.
3. Include your direct business website
Your local listing should include your direct website only, not your social media profile or another website that may be related to your business (there are other information fields for this). However, you can decide whether you want to link to your homepage or an internal page within your site, like your most-visited service page for a specific area. Whatever the case, determine the best page that will give users clear information about your business and motivate them to convert.
4. Have a consistent business description and tagline
Your description and tagline present your business in an easily digestible way to online audiences. You should answer who you are, what you do, and what problems you solve for customers in just a few sentences. It’s a good idea to use the same description or tagline in all your online outlets and marketing materials so you create a cohesive and consistent brand message.
Note that Google doesn’t display your summary on its listing page and provides its own set of descriptors.
5. Rank under the right categories
It’s essential that you select the right service/industry category when setting up your business listing. These tags help users find you based on the type of business you run and the products or services you provide. This is extremely important if you want to rank correctly in Google and get in front of the right audiences.
If you don’t see your most accurate category in Google’s list, select the descriptor closest to what you do. Then your other profile elements will help you show visitors the specifics of what you provide.
6. Include business images
When users search for services online and start looking at SERPs, they’ll often look at images that you and other people have posted. It’s crucial that you monitor the photos others are posting. You never want your business to be represented inaccurately, whether they’re images of your space or your products. It’s not uncommon for a user to accidentally post the wrong information on your business profile in a review, so it’s important to address these misrepresentations and flag them as quickly as possible.
Also, make sure you follow Google’s guidelines when uploading images of your business. They include specific details about which areas to photograph, how many pics, and much more. Also, don’t forget to include your logo.
7. Use the right platforms
Of course, Google My Business should be a top priority when you’re creating a local business listing. The search engine has nearly 90% of the global search market, after all. But where else should you be listing?
A platform like Yelp can take your online profile a step further by integrating more information that’s relevant to your audience and highlighting customer reviews. Also, be sure that you complete business profiles on the major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
There may be other platforms to check out that are relevant to your industry or your region. Pay attention to where your customers are hanging out and finding services, and adapt your approach accordingly.
Just make sure that your information aligns across all your channels, wherever you decide to list your business. You never want to confuse your audience – or Google – with conflicting information.
If you’re determined to expand your online presence to reach more customers in your area, Direction Local can quickly earn you more coverage on relevant directories and sync your information across every listing in real-time.
Direction Local: A Tool That Ensures Online Listing Consistency
Consider using a local SEO tool that can help you sync your business information across the web all from one dashboard. These SEO tools can automatically correct inaccurate information. A local SEO tool will save you time, money, and frustration by quickly identifying problem areas and giving you the ability to address these concerns quickly and efficiently.
Other Important Identifiers to Track
It’s not only about your NAP.
There’s other identifying business information that you’ll want to track for accuracy. The better you’re on-top of your digital presence, the more you ensure you aren’t missing out on potential opportunities.
Your email address, website domain or URL structure may have changed over the years. This can often lead to people receiving bounce-back emails when trying to contact you. From both an SEO and branding standpoint, the last thing you want is people clicking broken links – leading them to think you may no longer be in business and going to a competitor.
That’s why it’s so important to sync your company information through a single listing and reputation management tool.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check your own website to make sure your name, address, and phone number appear accurately throughout. Sometimes a buried blog post or old event listing within your own site may link to or show contradicting information that may no longer be relevant to your business.
Empower your company and contact one of our local SEO experts here at Direction Inc to discuss how you can grow a stronger and more effective web presence, starting today.