We all know that moving can be a big pain in the backside. Boxes, sticky tape, labels… And then you just have to unpack everything the other end. But we live in a world where Royal Mail redirects, We Have Moved postcards and answer phone messages are just the tip of the iceberg. And that is only magnified if you’re a business.
When you consider how people may use the internet to locate your business, it’s important that you do everything you can to ensure that search engines log your new details correctly. BOTTLE is in the middle of an exciting move, with the office relocating… Relocating means changing address, which means I’m doing this right now.
Getting your business address consistent
One of the central tenets of local search engine optimization is to ensure that your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number, NAP for short, is consistent everywhere it’s mentioned around the web (and offline, too – there’s no point getting everything online correct if your business cards have the wrong details). Your NAP is basically your digital thumbprint – Google’s unique identifier for an individual business.
So when you move locations, you create an inconsistency in your NAP. Your address is change, and if you change your telephone number then that too clashes with what Google already knows. Sadly, you can’t just send search engines a “We Have Moved” postcard. In worst case you end up with visitors turning up at the wrong address, but even if your communication to visitors is top-notch inconsistencies in your NAP can lead to lower search engine rankings for keyword searches. Google hates duplicate content. And the same goes for duplicate listings.
The first thing I did was to run an Accuracy Report on GetListed for old and new NAP information. I wanted to see which search engines had indexed which location(s), and in what manner. That way you know if you need to alter anything. GetListed is primarily a US tool, however there is a UK function in Beta that can provide some insights…
Once you know how your business address is being logged by search engines (if you are able to pull results from GetListed) the next thing is to make sure they are all being fed the same information. Where your business address is listed online, and you have the option to change it, do so. So on your website and on social networks. Pay particular attention to Google+, and local business pages on Google. Whilst the information does have a tendency to switch back (because Google is trying to associate it with your old NAP), it’s important to know where you need to make changes.
To a lesser extent don’t forget to check out Facebook and Foursquare (as well as other location services) – every little helps…
Do a Google search for your old NAP and on Google maps click the down arrow to “Report a problem” – and on the following screen note the correct information and tell Google why you are requesting the change.
Also pay particular attention to any external sites that return your old business address – some listings sites will allow you to edit the details manually, others you will have to contact the site owner to request the change.
One last step is to visit Google MapMaker. Think of MapMaker as a Wikipedia for locations. Google users from all of the world can add, edit, delete, and consolidate business information using this tool. For the most part, each edit is reviewed by other Google users before it goes live to the public. And most people don’t know about MapMaker. But as it’s a Google property, Google loves it. And MapMaker seems to process changes sometimes quicker than edits to Google Maps – so edit away!
Now all you can do is kick back and wait. It can take a good while for these changes to filter through to all search engines. So keep a note of all the changes you make, and the results that you get and note when there are changes. There will be… it might just take a few months to get there!
I’ll admit, this isn’t something I’ve done before, so I’m basing this on logic… What other things should be considered to help solidify your business address move in Google’s eyes?