control your brand Archives - MiShop.local

Old brands have bigger problems in local search than new ones

We’ve been performing local listing optimisation and local citation building for more than 5 years. In doing so, we’ve noticed that businesses that have been at the same address for years don’t tend to perform as well in local search as a newly opened businesses.

Why is this?

Why should a business that has been at the same address for years perform less well in local search compared to one that has just opened?

The answer is simple; A legacy of uncontrolled NAP data!

When we do a listing audit for clients, we look for consistency in Name, Address, Phone Number and Categories in multiple local listing sites. Ideally the NAP should be the same on all listings. A newly opened business won’t have any listings, and therefore a new NAP can be added afresh to local listing sites creating a consistent NAP anchor onto which the search engines can ‘hook’.

Old established business however tend to have hundreds of listings on multiple listing sites for the same address, but not in a controlled way. These listing sites will have NAP data that goes back for years. Many of them will have variations in brand name, different phone numbers and sometimes wrong addresses. They may also have accumulated content which is out of date and incorrect. We regularly find listings with really old brand names, dead phone numbers and dead weblinks.

The outcome; Newly opened business start with fresh clean listings which are consistent and correct and give a strong search signal, whereas old businesses have a legacy of conflicting NAP data which confuse the search engines and customers, and ultimately affects their local search performance.

What can be done about it?

Old business that have been at the same premises for years need to clean their NAP listings!

If you’re business has changed its’ name or telephone number over the past 20 years, there is every chance that you will find the old names and numbers still listed. Hunt them down and remove them.

If you think we are exaggerating about looking for changes that may have happened 20 years ago, then consider this: KFC re-branded from “Kentucky Fried Chicken” in 1991, yet you will still find old branch listings for Kentucky Fried Chicken in multiple listings sites. We’ve found listings where the telephone number was 15 years out of date and had been re-assigned to a retired lady in Dundee who was getting calls for the business that it used to belong to!

Remember, search engines try to make sense of information not clean it… it is your job to ensure your NAP data is correct.

Once branch NAP listings are clean and consistent, even old established businesses can expect to see their local presence improve.

MiShop.local specialises in identifying and cleaning NAP data for multi-location companies and helping them to control their brand in local search.

Please call us if you would like a sample audit of your branch network listings.

Why big brands have problems in local search

Big brands that have had the same high street address for years are at a disadvantage in local search compared to new businesses that are opening around them. How can this be?

Local Citation building is integral to an effective local search strategy; and core to that is consistent Name, Address and Phone numbers listed in local listing sites.

Established brands already have multiple local citations by virtue of the fact that they are probably listed in every directory and local listing site, so why should they not perform well?

The simple answer is – lack of NAP control!

Inconsistent NAP confuses search engines and customers, having a negative effect on your local search presence and even worse, giving customers the wrong information.

Here are the main reasons why high street brands have inconsistent NAP:

No Local Listing Policy – Because we’ve not needed one till now!

Most high street companies do not control their local listings and as such, they have slowly become corrupted with inconsistent naming, telephone numbers, branding and weblinks.

The difference may be subtle, for example “Marks & Spencer” may also be listed as “Marks and Spencer” or “M&S” or different telephone numbers listed in different sites, but slowly over time, these differences percolate throughout the listing ecosystem resulting in name variations, category inconsistencies and outdated telephone numbers.

Change of Name through re-brand or acquisition

Re-branding can have a major impact to your local citations.

Where a company changes its name, but keeps the same address and phone number, we often see conflicting listings appearing with the old and new brand names appearing alongside each other in the same listing.

Look at KFC – it officially re-branded from “Kentucky Fried Chicken” in 1991 – yet you can still find local listings for “Kentucky Fried Chicken” throughout the UK. Or Lloyds TSB – they split into Lloyds and TSB in 2013, yet there are still multiple listings for Lloyds TSB.

Change of Address

Brands that move premises a few doors up or down the high street can find themselves with duplicate listings. Moving premises on the same street only changes the shop number; the Name, Telephone Number and Post Code stay the same. This can get very confusing.

Change of Phone Number

Brands change their telephone numbers for different reasons, for example to centralise customer services or to introduce a different number plan. Whatever the reason, these numbers need to be changed in the listings.

Gone are the days when BT would supply your phone number and update your listing at the same time. Today we have multiple telephone service providers and number plans offering different services including, Local, Mobile, VOIP, Cable, 01, 02, 03, 08 etc. etc. No single company is responsible for ensuring that numbers are listed correctly. If you have a new number, it is your responsibility to ensure it is listed correctly.

All in all, brands through no fault of their own are victims of a legacy of old information that has accumulated over time in multiple local listing sites and citations.

An address is a strategic asset in search, but only if local citations have consistent NAP.

Cleaning old listing to achieve correct and consistent local citations takes time and energy and systematic approach.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article,
please use the contact form below or call MiShop.local in confidence on 01273 987498.

    Franchises – How to improve your local search performance

    Franchises – Tips on how to improve your local search presence.

    More than 50% (and growing) of all web queries are now performed on a mobile device.

    Why is this significant for franchises?

    Well if someone uses a mobile device to search for services, the results are tailored to their immediate location. This is called Local Search. Most franchise businesses are “local”.

    Local search is different to conventional web search as it is influenced by your address and phone number more than your website. In fact, a business without a website but is listed on local business listing sites can appear higher in local search than a business with just a website.

    The implications are huge, a business with a local physical presence has a strategic advantage over web only business.

    Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) Consistency is king.

    For local search, Google, Bing and other search engines look for NAP data (Name, Address and Phone Number) on local listing sites to verify that a business exists in a given location. The more consistent your NAP details on local listing sites, the greater your chance of appearing higher in local search. Inconsistent NAP data, for example same name but different telephone numbers listed at the same address, or different names but same telephone number listed at the same address will confuse search engines. As important as NAP consistency, is Category consistency. A miss categorised business will not appear in local search for its category.

    You should also add rich brand content to the listing sites including photos, logo, opening hours, business descriptions, weblinks, etc. which further enhances your search performance and raises your brand profile.

    The process of cleaning and adding content to local listing sites is known as “Local Listing Optimisation” LLO and is an essential part of Local SEO.

    Finally, customer reviews written in Google + Local and other local listing sites (associated with your NAP) can further enhance your search performance.

    Most franchises operate as a local businesses, and as such, need to have a local search strategy.

    Every franchise is different, with different local search challenges, for example, some have multiple branches, others operate out of a van, or have a call centre with one number, etc. There is no one solution fits all, however it is true to say that every local search strategy must have a NAP policy and ideally local listing optimisation. Without this, franchisee listings will be inconsistent resulting in sub-optimal search performance and the brand compromised. Local Listing Optimisation is a highly effective way of raising your brand profile across hundreds of free local listing sites, but if it is done incorrectly, it can look amateurish and even damage the brand. You must control your brand in local search.

    An effective local search strategy needs to include the franchisee.

    Franchises that leverage their local network can significantly improve their overall search performance. This means that the franchisees play an important part in the franchise search strategy and need to be included in every aspect of the local search optimisation process.

    Here are a few tips on how to improve your franchisees local search performance:

    The 5 Cs of Local Listing Optimisation

    1. Consistent NAP

    NAP is King! Ensure your branch Name Address and Phone number are consistently listed across all local listing sites. The more consistent the NAP the better.

    2. Categories

    Ensure you are categorised correctly on the listing sites. If you are a plumber you need to be categorised as a plumber. Use listing sites that specialises in your sector.

    3. Content

    Enhance the listings with content including:

    • A logo
    • Photos
    • Business descriptions
    • Opening Hours
    • Weblinks – this should link to the branch specific landing page on the website
    • Social media links (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
    • Products and services
    • Email

    4. Customer Reviews

    Customer reviews written on local listing sites are permanent and also have a big influence on your local search performance. Encourage customers to write reviews in Google + Local and the listing sites.
    Monitor the reviews and respond to them; it shows that you care.

    5. Continue

    Occasionally refresh the content with new images and wording. If you must change your NAP, make sure this is done across all the listings. (However, avoid changing your NAP unless it is absolutely necessary)… remember consistency is king!

    These simple tips can go a very long way to improving your local search performance.

    Are You in Control Of Your Local Brand Presence?

    • Do you know how your brand is portrayed on local listing sites?
    • Are you comfortable that information about your brand is compiled and displayed on 3rd party listing sites that do not know you?
    • Are you comfortable that anyone can change information about your business without your knowledge?
    • Only by claiming your listings can you control how your brand appears in local search.

    Most local listing sites rely on 3rd party directories, business owners and even the public to keep the business listings up-to-date. However, there are no ‘rules’ as to who, what, when and how information should be updated. Consequently, many sites list information which is out-of-date and incorrect.

    Your business could be listed on these sites with the wrong phone number, wrong address, wrong web link, wrong business name, wrong category, wrong logo, uninspiring or uninformative business descriptions.

    Every interaction with your brand should be positive. If your customers find information that is incorrect, regardless of what it is or where they found it, it could inconvenience, frustrate or even confuse them.

    These may seem trivial, but put yourself in the shoes of a customer that has followed directions to an incorrectly placed map pin, or turns up when the shop’s closed, or calls a dead or the wrong phone number, or click on a dead link, etc. Best case, they look again, or, maybe they give up and go somewhere else! Don’t assume that they will always go to your store finder, they won’t!

    As well as NAP details and opening times, these sites can also display information about your brand. Is the description inspiring and contain key words that work for you in search? Is it on brand?

    Is the logo correct? Does it stand out?

    Click-through rate increases when your brand stands out.

    Your brand image on these sites is just as important as having the correct name and address. A branded listing stands out from the competition and is more engaging.

    How you are categorised is important too… Are you a restaurant, or an Italian Restaurant? Are you a Fashion Retailer or Supplier? Are you a Plumber or a Plumbing Supplier? Miss-categorisation means that you will not appear in the right local search results.

    Only you know what information is correct and how you want your brand to be portrayed on 3rd party listing sites. So why leave it to someone who does not know you?

    To control your local brand presence you need to claim and manage your local listings. 

    If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article,
    please use the contact form below or call MiShop.local in confidence on 01273 987498.