We’ve all been working hard. Running our businesses can be exhausting, can’t it? Through it all, we could probably use a NAP right about now, but not the kind of NAP you might be thinking of. No…by NAP, I mean your online business Name, Address and Phone number. Your NAP, through hundreds of online business directory listings, is probably a jumbled mixture of inconsistencies and inaccuracies that confuse search engines and hurt your search ranking and online visibility potential. It’s critical to get this right.
Online Business Directories
What are business directories? They’re consumer information sites like Yahoo Local, Google+, Yelp!, Angie’s List, YellowBook, Citysearch, Superpages, Local.com and hundreds more. Some of these are also where people can leave reviews of your business. And each one has dredged up information about your business in one way or another, and it’s not always correct. In fact, 41 percent of business addresses are incorrect online, andso are 59 percent of business names and 10 percent of phone numbers. That’s a problem for your business online thumbprint. Want to see how your business listings show up on more than 50 of these top directories? Use this free tool.
How did your business show up after using this tool? Does your business NAP show up 100 percent accurate and consistent on all of these directories? The average number of errors we see with this tool is around 100 per shop…just in 50-plus directories! That confuses search engines and makes it harder to reach your overall visibility potential online.
How It Works
Search engines do what is called “indexing” websites, reading text to determine what the site is all about. In the case of an auto repair facility, search engines should be able to determine exactly who you are, what you do and where you do it based on the text on the top half of your homepage. Search engines also look at links coming into your site from other websites, including these business directories. These links coming to your site are called “backlinks.” Every time your business NAP shows up on another site, it’s called a “citation.” The more correct citations your business gets, the better your website and directory listings will do with search engine visibility.
Consider rays of light – they’re mostly harmless, and they illuminate. But focus a ray of light into a laser beam and it can cut through metal. Much the same can be said about directory listings. They illuminate information about your business, though this information may not be 100 percent consistent and accurate. Search engines get a filtered mixture of information, and therefore the credibility of this information suffers, holding you back from reaching your full online visibility potential. But get all these top directories correct and have them link correctly to your website and you focus all of these directories right to your website like a laser beam, unleashing the ability to stand out online and increasing your ranking potential. And then you get more cars to fix! And that’s what it’s all about, right?
The goal is to get everything exactly the same on your website, social media sites and top directories. Let’s say your business is on 1st Street, which can also be listed as 1st St., First St., etc. Each of these is different. Pick one and make all the directories and social media sites the same.
Using this same street address example, let’s take it a step further. Let’s say your actual business NAP is ABC Auto Body, 517 1st Street, Anytown, IL 60510. Your phone number is (630) 555-1212. This is how it shows up on your website and social media. But, back in 2010, a Yellow Pages-type company rep sold you a directory listing that included a special phone number that would tell you exactly when someone called you from that page. But this sales rep put your business information in as ABC Autobody, 517 First St., Anytown, IL 60510, (630) 555-5555.
See the differences? Search engines sure will. These listings may well be viewed as two separate businesses by Google, Yahoo and Bing, and you therefore lose out on reaching your overall ranking potential and visibility in online searches. Website traffic = cars to fix…if your site is well-designed to convert visitors into customers. And these directory listings need to work in concert to help make that possible.
Getting your directory listings 100 percent consistent can be a royal pain. You have a couple choices. You can create an account, individually, with each of these directories and fill in the correct information, but that’s time consuming and not very practical. Or, you can hire a third party to do it for you. My company has the technology to do it through its PowerListings service, and there are others. In 24 to 48 hours, your NAP on more than 50 top directories is updated, plus your hours of operation, business description, tagline and photos are added. For more information, click here.
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships and Web presence management. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, development, SEO services and social media management services. Claypool’s work history includes stints at Metro Paint Supplies, VeriFacts Automotive, the National Auto Body Council (NABC), the I-CAR Education Foundation and SkillsUSA. He is the founder of Mentors At Work and co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation. He served, on a volunteer basis, as the SkillsUSA World Team Leader for the WorldSkills Championships from 2003 to 2011.