Google needs your help. You see, they have been preoccupied with building robot cars and fixing the typography in their logo. So, you’ll have to excuse them for not keeping up with your business’s data cluster.
Oh, you didn’t know you had a data cluster? Well, you do, and Google uses this data to determine how prominently your business listing ranks online. Without getting too granular, here’s what you need to know: Your company name, address, and phone number need to be listed accurately and consistently everywhere online.
If you have moved locations recently or changed your company name, that could be a problem. Your NAP data doesn’t magically change by itself so your data cluster, that thing Google uses to rank you ahead of your competitors, could be compromised.
The solution is simple: Change your NAP data on directories, data providers, and any other websites that cite your business online. Okay, so simple, but also really, really challenging.
When it comes to changing NAP data, there’s no silver-bullet. Not yet, anyway. Much of the work has to be done manually, because you’re not just creating listings, you’re claiming and editing them.
Here are some pointers for the do-it-yourselfers out there:
1. The Locus
Your Google Local listing is the locus of your data cluster, so make sure your address information is exactly the way you want it because you’ll be matching every other listing to the NAP on your Google Local listing. Warning: Do not opt to keyword-stuff your company name.
Upon editing the company name on your Google Local listing, Google will ask you to verify the changes by phone or postcard. Note: Your changes will not go live until you have verified them. For the best information on how to edit and optimize your Google Local listing, see Mike Blumenthal’s excellent blog.
2. Data Providers
The NAP data on your Google Local listing has to match citations across the web, and there are loads of them, so it may seem hard to know where to start.
But, the thing is, many of the directories that list your business information get that NAP data from large data providers. The biggest of which are Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and FACTUAL.
So, it is important to go directly to the data providers, before you start editing any of the dozens of directories.
The daunting task at this point is figuring out which websites to edit. Well, one way to do this is to simply Google your old address information. Pretty much all of the search results that appear will need to be edited.
Aside from Google research, you may want to rely on a third-party service or tool. Moz Local, for example, touts an NAP audit tool which will help you find variations on your business name.
When it comes to editing citations across the web, sites that host your customer reviews are of special importance. That is because your reviews data confer trust signals to Google. In fact, reviews could be seen as their own ranking category.
To this end, you may want to edit the NAP data on your CityGrid listing. CityGrid is the largest content network on the web, and reviews on the CityGrid network can appear in dozens of participating directories online.
The good news is that CityGrid pulls NAP data from InfoGroup, which you took care of in step 2. However, the Data providers can take some time before the feed into your other listings.
You’ve edited your Google Local listing, the big data providers, directories you’ve audited, and reviews sites, so what’s next? In my opinion Facebook should be high on the priority list.
Aside from the potential ranking benefit of social signals, Facebook is an incredibly valuable branded web destination, and with a little optimization, your business’s Facebook page will likely outrank most of the small directories anyway.
Once you have taken these steps, it may still take Google a while to complete the whole picture of your data cluster, so get started as quickly as possible.