Has your business been in the exact same location—with the same email address, phone number and other key contact information—since inception? If you are like many businesses, you have moved at least once and may have changed your phone number and email address multiple times. Why does this matter? Well, consistency in your online listing information is more critical than you realize to assuring that customers find you at the top of their search results.

Growth of Local Search

Local search is the latest buzzword for search engine strategies as businesses seek to engage people at the point that they are making their buying decisions—generally in the car, on the go, on the way to appointments—essentially at the very last moment. While you may have heard a lot in the past five to ten years about eCommerce, you will soon start hearing more about mobile commerce—which is set to boom even larger and faster than eCommerce a few years ago. Mobile commerce and online marketing tools are integrating to a high degree, meaning that prospects have greater opportunities to pinpoint exact locations to search for specific businesses. If you have not spent a lot of time lately searching Google for your business and doing some routine maintenance you might get a surprise when you check out your local listings.

What Does Consistency Look Like Online? 

The holy trinity of local SEO is your NAP: name, address and phone number. This can alternately be written as NAP+W: name, address, phone number and website. It seems relatively straightforward that you would want this critical business information to be consistent across all possible search engine tools. However, assuring that someone (maybe a competitor?) has gone online, claimed your business falsely and moved your address across town—that can get dicey. Not only are there hundreds of potential hyper-local search locations, but each site must be accessed separately and your information must be verified; often via a physically mailed postcard with a pin that you must enter as verification. 

A lack of consistency in your NAP+W information can kill your local SEO, the No. 1 negative local ranking factor is “listing detected at false business location” according to Moz, with another key factor being a mismatched NAP. It can be incredibly challenging for SMBs to validate their listings in totality, which is where a professional San Antonio SEO marketing firm can really be an asset.

What Does a Penalty Really Do? 

When your information is not consistent across platforms such as Yelp, Google Places, Foursquare or the local Small Business Association, your local ranking can suffer. Local SEO citation remediation can be an intense process, but an incredibly important one. The key penalty your business suffers from consistency failures with your NAP+W are a drop in your local search rankings—meaning if someone is searching for a San Antonio small business of your type, if you have not utilized SEO marketing tools to gain consistency across your listings your competitor may show up higher in the returned list of businesses; even if your business is closer or a more relevant match. 

No matter how you structure your search engine marketing plan, brick and mortar business can benefit from creating a consistent and error-free online presence.

Sources:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238775
http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/03/26/how-to-optimize-your-business-for-local-search-and-social-marketing/
http://localvox.com/blog/top-local-business-directories/
http://www.copyblogger.com/local-seo/
https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors