Before Your Great Reviews Show – You First Need to Be On the 3 Pack – And Why NAP Matters
RepPilot is all about getting people to use your business over your competitors. To call you first when they have a choice of vendors.
This most frequently occurs when they do a search on Google for a local business and see Google’s famous 3 pack.
If you are listed there, you have a great chance at getting a new customer. If you have the best review stats, you are significantly more likely to get first crack at this new customer. And that is worth gold!
As a Minneapolis Internet Marketing Consultant, I work with clients to get them on the 3 pack. And yes, one of the most important ways to get there is to have good reviews. But even before that in the list of things that matter, that I use with client is what we call in the business, Citations.
A citation is any listing anywhere on the web that includes your business name, address and phone number. These do not need to be backlinks at all, just mere mentions. But there is a rub…
Meaning that where ever these listings of your business name address and phone number (NAP) occur, they need to be the same.
This can be a challenge, especially for firms that may have grown and or relocated in the past. Or in situations when the owner may have used their personal cell phone in some cases as well as a business number.
Shaw explains the approach Whitespark uses to help deal with this issue. In the example he discusses helping an attorney find variations to his citations.
How to find NAP variations
Step one, we ask the business: Tell us about any previous business names that you’ve had, if you’ve changed your name in the past or if you have a corporate account. How about any addresses? Have you moved locations? Do you have any secondary locations? Do you have your business registered at a corporate address? Phone numbers? Any call tracking numbers, toll-free numbers, cell numbers, any past numbers that you’ve used for the business? This is a great way to start. We get a list of all that stuff.
Next, we’ll go to Moz Local and we run a search for the business name and ZIP. This, because Moz Local queries all the primary data aggregators and a number of other important sites in the local search ecosystem, it tends to surface a lot of NAP variations. So we use this to add to our list.
Third, we’ll go to YellowBot and MerchantCircle. These two sites are interesting because they collect data from a number of different sources, but they don’t do a very good job of merging listings as the data comes in. So we end up with a lot of duplicates on the site. It’s a lot of work to clean up that site, but it’s very helpful for this process.
So for this one, you just put in a portion of the business name. Bob’s business is Bob Loblaw’s Law Firm. Instead of just putting the whole thing in, we’ll just put in Loblaw to help surface variations. Here are some variations that might come up. We’ve got Loblaw and Sons LLC, Loblaw’s Law, and Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog.
After we get that, we’re going to go to Google. We’re going to search Google. Now what we’re doing here is we’re trying to find any variations that we didn’t already discover. We already have a number of different names. We have a number of different phone numbers. What we’ll do is we’re going to find more names. If you put in a phone number for the business and you exclude all the names, Google’s going to surface any sites or any pages that mention that phone number without any of these names. That helps you to surface any variations that you weren’t aware of. You do that for each phone number.
Then on the phone number side, if we’re trying to find more phone numbers, we’ll search for the business name and exclude the phone numbers we already know of. By excluding phone numbers we already know of, we might find new names.
The one trouble with this one is it tends to surface a lot of pages where you just mention the business without the phone number, and that’s a common thing. So what I do in this case is I scan the results looking for obvious business directories, if it’s like a Yelp or a Foursquare or anything like that. I’m looking for business directories in these results.
Then we want to see if there are any other addresses we missed. Put in the phone number and exclude the addresses that you’re already aware of. Do that for each phone number.
An important tip here with the addresses is that you don’t want to use the full address. Let’s say for example your address is 5329 Saddleback Road South, Suite 705. Don’t put in the whole thing. You put that in quotes, it’s only going to match pages that are an exact match with that. Just put in that portion that’s going to be common to all the sites, like 5329 Saddleback.
At the end of this process, you should have a very nice, clean list of all of your various names, addresses, and phone numbers for the business.
Now all of the above is a great start. Now all you have to do is fix those with errors, and create new citations where there are not any.
This can be a tedious job.
It get’s worse.
There are several data aggregators that scour the internet and every other source they can to find businesses to add to the directories that they in turn sell as lists to the general public.
This process tends to capture old outdated information along with fresh new information and regurgitate it.
This has the net effect of redistributing old data that you thought you had cleaned up all over again.
That is why, I tend to use a service called YEXT with my clients and include it in most of my RepPilot installations.
This service has developed a relationship with over 50 of the most prominent citation resources who trust the service. In turn, they allow Yext to “Lock” in your accurate NAP in their data bases, so that old or erroneous data does not reappear in your listings.
And to repeat and remind you why this is important. Citations are clearly one of the most important keys to making your way onto the Google 3 pack. More are better, especially if they are all in agreement on the simple but basic elements of having your business name, address and phone number the same.
It seems simple, but its not. And mismatches do hurt.
Now there is more to the story, especially in competitive niches and geographies, but at least now you know the essential prerequisite to getting more new customers.
Call me at 612-408-9924 to get the rest of the story.