Getting found in Local Searches

Local searches are key to growing businesses in a specific area. Many businesses and marketers focus on getting a website online,  but they don’t think about ways to rank offline,  at least in Google’s mind. 

Do You Still Use The Telephone Directory?

Why is this question get a heading category? Because, you may not use a phone book, but Google does. That’s right, Google killed the phone book but is still the main user of phone books. Now, they don’t actually have phone books gracing the halls of their San Francisco campus (I think, never been there personally). But, Google does use local listings and directories to determine your viability as a local, physical location business. So, what is the mistake that costs you local search ranking?

Inconsistent NAP Costs Local Search Rank

NAP,  (Name, Address, Phone #) are essential items for ranking your business listings on map searches and local service or product keywords. If your name is different across local directories, it sends a confusing message to search engines. So, they do not understand how to rank your business. I found this out when a client who has been in business for 24 years wondered why she was listed in the 40s to 60s on search results for her business in a town of 70,000 people. To her knowledge, she doesn’t even have that many competitors in the city, let alone competitors who have more presence than she does locally. This was a problem, and I didn’t know why she was ranked so low. So, I did my own Google search and discovered NAP. When I looked up her business name, I discovered that there was plenty of confusing issues that were probably hurting our local SEO.

Correcting INconsistencies

Before I tried fixing NAP, I identified where there were confusing issues that might hurt our business listing SEO and our website SEO. I identified a name that reflected services we were no longer offering, multiple businesses attached to the same phone number, and links to a different website URL than the one she currently has. One of the businesses listed on the phone number was her tax preparation service, one was her holding company for some convenience stores. Doesn’t it make sense that a listing for a convenience store at the same phone number I am trying to rank a tax preparation company for would confuse search engines? Once I identified these, it was simply a matter of correcting them. There are many solutions that will automate the spread of information to databases, but I chose to do this manually. After 2.5 hours of work, I had corrected 30% of the listing inconsistencies I found.

Results of Corrections

Although I have not finished correcting all the inconsistencies, we saw immediate results. The 20 or so directories I was able to correct helped our website go from pages 5-7 for our keywords to page 2 in search. We went from page 3 in Maps to page 1. This change happened in 1 day. If your businesse is not listed in directories at all, it may be hurting you. If your business has conflicting information in multiple directories, it is definitely hurting you. Check your name, address, phone number to make certain your business is listed on maps. And, while you are at it, add your website URL and make certain that your industry category matches your main service.