Google places a lot of emphasis on having correct name, address and phone number citations on the web. A consistent Name, Address, Phone Number (otherwise known as NAP) confirms to Google that your contact info is consistent and legitimate.
There would be no worse user experience than someone typing an address into Google Maps and them sending you to a location that has moved or doesn’t exist. Google takes users’ search experience very seriously (it’s what keeps them in business) and they will not take risks in sending you to a non-existent location. In fact, Google has cracked down on virtual offices for this reason.
Knowing this, directory sites have become an essential part of a business’s local search ranking. It’s advisable to have your correct NAP listed in directories.
There’s More to This Story
Directory sites reference each other and it’s easy for them to become corrupted. Let’s say site A wants to crawl site B to get a bunch of NAPs to build its own directory. Let’s say that site A was able to scrape everything except the phone number. Well now, site B has an incomplete NAP of your address. Then site C comes along and tries to crawl site B and the cycle repeats itself. The result? Incorrect NAPs and Google trusts you less.
There are companies out there who claim to have special deals with X number of directory sites and claim they will be able hard-code your correct NAP via API. They’re not too quick to tell you if those listings will remain the same after you stop paying them and I can name at least one company, a business called Yext, that will 100% revert your NAPs once you stop paying them.
The Big Three NAP Providers
Infogroup, Factual and Axiom. These companies have built up enough trust and authority with Google that they are often looked to as a source of trusted information. Companies like Apple and Facebook have inked deals with Factual to use their data for their map and places services. And guess what, Google also looks at the info Facebook and Apple have to make sure their own data is up to date.
How Else Does Google Verify Your Location?
There’s PIN verification of course, people who actually drive to your location and stay there. They’re using your location as evidenced by their popular times feature:
How do you Rank on Google Local?
Good question. Hopefully this article has led you a bit closer to the answer, but allow me to lay it out for you.
- Verify your Google My Business Page and fill it out entirely.
- Build citations on the web. Use a tool like White Spark to build opportunities.
- Find broken and incomplete citations. Google your postal code and name, or just your phone number or various combinations. Note your findings in a spreadsheet and highlight all the inconsistencies. Even things like saying Unit instead of Suite can present problems for Google.
- Make sure your site is optimized around the cities and locales you want to target.
- Include a page on your site that talks about the cities you service.
- Include a map and direction from NESW.
- Keep monitoring your NAPs. Remember when I told you about how sites reference each other’s data? They keep doing it and that means your data can become corrupted.
The task of cleaning up citations is a chore. There’s no two ways about it. You’ve got to sign up for each site and manually change the data. Most companies will have an agency to do this task, which is money well spent. If you’re not prepared to do this, you’ll need to conduct monthly searches for your NAP and also monitor any listings you’re already aware of.
So that’s local SEO in a nutshell. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.
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