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these differences percolate throughout the listing ecosystem resulting in name variations, category inconsistencies and outdated telephone numbers.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.