At Akira, we’re acutely aware of the need for local businesses to be found in local searches.
We also know from personal experience how hard it can be to move your business from one location to another.
Our recent office move from Ingersoll to our new web design studio in London ON highlighted one very important process; consistent NAPs.
What are NAPs?
As you might have gathered, we’re not talking midday siestas or power-napping at your desk. You NAP is the most important part of your online business information - your Name, your Address and your Phone number. And the most crucial part is that each element must be consistent across every listing you have on the internet.
For those of us who started out in business way back when you could get listed on all kinds of business directories for just a matter of dollars, this poses a problem. As our business grows and changes names or locations, these out of date listings get left behind like discarded moving crates. On their own, they are not too much of an issue, unless they happen to be at one of the major directories for local search. Then the problems start.
Google doesn't always know best
You may know that Akira Studio Director Tony Scott emigrated from the UK to Canada some years back. Not so Google Business, who still had Akira Studio listed at our old UK business address AND at our new London ON offices until we asked for the UK listing to be deleted. (Yes, we couldn’t do it ourselves online.)
What’s in a Name?
The issue isn’t just restricted to physical addresses either. One of our clients changed their company status from LLP to Ltd. In the process of making this simple change at one of the main online directories, we discovered another issue. The company name is officially registered as a set of initials (e.g. ABC Ltd), and known by another (e.g. Aardvark Bluestone Clairvoyants). On just one single directory, we found five variations along the lines of:
A B C Ltd
Aardvark Bluestone Clairvoyants
The same, only different
The reason this had happened is because directories feed off one another. Information is passed from one database to another, and a bit like a game of Chinese Whispers, the data can get distorted in the process. To human eyes, A B C and A.B.C. mean the same. To the directory search algorithms, however, these are two separate names, and it lists them accordingly. Never mind that the Address and the Phone number are the same - the Name is different, so it’s a different company.
What’s more, directories keep shifting owners and data sources, and the job of tracking down which is THE key source of information becomes very tricky. Add in the complication that every country has a totally different directory ecosystem, and correcting all the errors one by one becomes nigh-on impossible.
Mind your P’s
Given that few of us have time, let along the inclination to change each and every listing, we suggest what you really need to mind are your P’s - your Phone number. After all, even if the name is not 100%, and the address isn’t quite right either, if the phone number is correct, customers can always call you. So if you see an incorrect phone number listed anywhere, make it your priority to get that listing changed.
And your D’s
We’d also recommend you pay attention to your D’s, your website Domain name. Invest in the proper domain name for your business from the outset, (for example, www.AardvarkBluestoneClairvoyants.com) and even if you then change the business name to something completely different, you can forward from the old domain to the new.
And then - relax!
Looking ahead, we are in the process of working out exactly which directories are the most important, and which are simply copycats. It’s making some time, but we are making progress, and we’ll wake you when we’ve got more info.
image: ZZZzzz is for aardvark by Ewen Roberts at flickr.com