There is now a tremendous emphasis on the part of local business owners to optimize their Google Place Pages. And for good reason: A business’s ranking in Google local search has a bearing on the number of prospective customers who pick up the phone or walk through the door.
But, your Google Place Page is only part of the equation. As it turns out, local business listings on Google are actually a “cluster of information” drawn partly from your own website and third-party sites that reference your business. Tying these web properties together are 3 important pieces of data: Company name, address, and phone number (NAP).
If you want your business to rank higher in Google local search results, it is widely understood that a key factor is ensuring consistency of NAP data between your Google Place Page, your business website, and third-party websites, such as directories and trusted data providers, that reference your business.
Google wants to get a sense for how relevant your business is as a local search result and they are scouring the web for clues. Make it easy for Google by ensuring the consistency of your company name, address, and phone number across these channels:
On Your Website:
It may seem obvious, but it is absolutely essential that your NAP is listed on your website. More specifically, local businesses should post NAP info prominently on their homepage. And this information needs to be in HTML text format so Google can read it. It is not good enough to have your NAP in a graphic on your webpage.
Use a local phone number, not an 800 number. Likewise, avoid using vanity phone numbers that replace numbers with letters. On David Mihm’s famous Local Search Ranking survey, 800 numbers and the absence of a local area code were voted as two of the top negative ranking factors.
If you are the type that likes to take things a step further, have your web developer annotate your NAP data in your HTML code with rich snippet markup. They can find more information on how to annotate local address data on Google’s own Rich Snippets for Local FAQ Page.
On Third-party websites:
As part of Google’s effort to determine the relevance of your business listing as a local search result, they are going to crawl the web matching your NAP data with other third-party websites. These websites include data providers and directories such as City Search, Infogroup, and Yahoo Local. Third-party sites with customer reviews are especially important because the reviews themselves can confer a ranking benefit.
In 2011, Google local optimization guru Linda Banquet cited NAP integrity as the most important factor in optimizing third-party websites for local ranking. And the good news is, editing your company name, address and phone number, on a website is a fairly simple, actionable step. The return on your time investment could be enormous if your listing increases in ranking for local search queries.
Make sure third-party websites have your address listed exactly the same way it is listed on your Google Place Page and your website. To help in this endeavor, the good people at Hubspot have compiled a list of 50 Local Business Directories that you can claim or edit to ensure NAP consistency.
On Your Place Page:
Your Google Place Page is home base of your NAP data. When Google creates a Place Page for a local business, it gets the NAP data from third-party providers. It is up to the business owner to verify and correct their NAP information, but note: Company name and address changes have been known to take several weeks to appear live online. If you have more than one Google Place listing your NAP data, that can be a big problem.
For more information on all things related to Google Place Pages, Mike Blumenthal’s blog is the definitive resource.