In order for Google to know who you are and where your business is located there must for consistent and uniform information across all local and niche directories, including any mention of either your business name, address or company phone number on the Internet, including local directories, blogs and other websites etc. Something as simple as your business name not being registered the same on every site can have a dramatic impact on where you appear, how you appear or if you appear in the top 3 locations on Google’s local pack otherwise known as Google map results for your service and town. This can be as simple as Vic’s Home Renovations, Inc., on one site and Vic’s Home Renovations & Kitchen Remodeling on a different directory. This also becomes a problem if your business has ever moved and an old address or phone number is out there, or worse yet, if you ever used your home or cell phone as a business phone when you got started.
For this reason, you need to know how your name, address and phone number, also known as “NAP”, for your home renovation business is listed throughout the Internet. It’s one of the most important local search ranking factors used by Google and Bing. In fact, in 2019, it was ranked by MOZ as the #2 most important ranking factor behind only just having a business in the city you are trying to rank. The first step in this process is to use of the many citation reports you can get online. One such place you can go is yext.com. They own a great many of the directories and will provide a free search. However, they will charge a large fee to fix these and once you sign up with Yext, you must continue to pay them each and every year, or any changes you make will revert back to your pre-updated state. Other places you can use to search multiple directories is Merchant Circle or Yellowbot.com. One last place that I always look is to go to Google and simply search for each phone number. This will typically turn up many citations from non-directory sites, such as blogs and social media profiles. The key is to understand that one source is generally not good enough to search all possible citations.
There are several common problems that a business owner will run into that creates duplication and citation inconsistencies as it relates to a business’ NAP. When you search for your business, you also want to think about whether you ever used a different name in the past. In our example, Vic’s Home Renovation, which is run by Victor Johnson, used to be know only as Victor Johnson Home Repairs. This is exceedingly common for contractors who started off as a one-man shop and used only their name as their business but got listed online. If this is the case with your business, make sure to run a search not only for your current business name, but also any old names. Many businesses have either multiple phone numbers or an old phone numbers you have used, such as tracking numbers for a PPC campaign, or a cell phone from when you first got started. Make sure to search for all your possible phone numbers your business has ever used. Addresses are usually the thing that is easiest to search for, but in some cases, you may service a large local area and have a secondary location where you keep supplies or have a showroom. Another common address inconsistency is if your business has a suite number. You will find many places where your business is only listed at the main building, such as 700 Main Street, while others may have your suite, such as 700 Main St. #702, or 700 Main Street, Suite #701. Even more common, most contractor businesses were at one point in time run out of the founder’s home. For example, Victor use to run his business out of his home. His home has a different address then his current office location.
You should now have a complete list of all your business citations. You are ready to update and or build new citations for accuracy. Presuming you don’t want to hire an agency to fix all issues and are going to do it yourself, you can then contact each individual site that has any inconsistency through their forms, and create an account to claim and update your listings. In some situations, you may be redirected to Yext, as the owner of the site. You DO NOT need to pay them to update the listing. If that is the case, just go back to the site and find their contact us or email link and send an email to them with the specific URL of your listing, and what information is incorrect. Once you have fixed all your citation inconsistencies you can start to build new citations on local directories and niche sites. You can find these by using the reports which may say no results found, or by going to Google and searching for list of top contractor directories or the like. You just need to find your local town page to submit there.