What to keep in mind when changing your business’s address, name, and/or phone number.
The motto “If you build it, they will come” is catchy, but it’s not enough. They can’t come if they can’t find you. Only 10 percent of Americans don’t use the internet, according to data from the Pew Research Center. This means 90 percent are online. And 77 percent of those people own and use a smartphone. So what happens if you need to change your business address? Or change your phone number? Will your loyal customers be able to find you? What about new customers?
Your business’s digital home is just as important as its physical location. Specifically, your business’s digital home is its domain (where your website and email live – that’s a topic for another day) and, more importantly, it’s where your NAP is found.
What is NAP?
The NAP or Name + Address + Phone Number is a crucial component for any business, even without a website or social media presence.
Without an up-to-date NAP, consumers can’t access your business and that means lost revenue. No bueno.
Common Local Business Search Scenario
Let’s take a look at Jane and her most recent internet search.
- Jane needs to replace the air conditioning unit for her home. She hits the internet for local HVAC services and on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) she finds several.
- She wants to make an informed decision, so she starts reading a bit more closely. Uh oh. The business listed first doesn’t have a phone number. She moves on. The one listed second looks promising but when she clicks through, she is sent to a broken link.
- Jane doesn’t have time or patience for that. She bounces back to the SERP and begins investigating the third listing. She clicks through to the homepage, reads a bit, and then fills out the contact form on that site.
What happened here? The two businesses with outdated NAP info lost Jane as a potential customer not because of pricing or reviews, but because they couldn’t be found. That’s inexcusable in today’s digital world.
By changing the name, address, or phone number of your business online, you run the risk of creating an inconsistent NAP. Sure, you can change our NAP in the important places (your contact page, your website footer, your Google My Business account, your Facebook page) but the internet is infinite. If your business is listed in directories you don’t even know about, your new NAP is not going to match your old NAP. And that’s going to upset Google and hurt your SEO.
Where to Start
The time has come to change your business address, name or phone number. But before we dive too far into the details about how to do that, let’s discuss what you’re looking for.
The most common NAP issues consumers run into when searching a business are:
- Missing phone number or address
- Incorrect phone number or address
- Disconnected phone number
Do You Have a List?
In a perfect world, you already have a .doc that itemizes every website that you’ve inserted your NAP into. If you don’t have a document like this, we bet you are wishing you did. Check the sticky notes in your drawer, flip through old notebooks, search your email inbox. If you’re changing your business address, it might be helpful to search for your old address in Google and see what comes up. Once you start making changes, create a new list as you go. But make sure to keep the list in a secure location. What you don’t want to do is make a Google Doc and set your permissions to “anyone with the link can view.”
Search Databases Individually
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Like we said earlier, the Internet is infinite. But here are some databases that usually house/index business information:
- Yellow Pages and White Pages
- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (if using these social media)
You should also check the local Chamber of Commerce, city-data listings, organizations that provide active links, and any government agencies. Carve out some time for this step. If you have misplaced any of your login info, it may take a while.
Check Multiple Devices and Platforms
We are guessing that you have been using either a laptop or desktop computer so far during this process. If so, your next step will need to be checking for NAP consistency across mobile devices and other platforms.
It may seem redundant to check all of these websites again, but it’s important. According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, only 18 percent of consumers in the United States use a single screen for their internet access. Most consumers use multiple devices with the average number of connected devices per person at more than four. Those numbers tell us that businesses must maintain visibility across multiple devices and platforms, or they risk losing customers.
Also, the way a website is viewed on a smartphone versus a laptop can vary greatly. In addition, as consumers move between devices, local algorithms and the Local 3-Pack (the Google map and three-point business list that appears on the SERP) impact the individual experience differently, in particular, the proximity of the user’s current location and that of the business’s actual location. If this information is not correct, a potential customer may decide they’re just too far from your business, and you lose a conversion.
Data from one study states that half of all local searches lead to a purchase. It also concludes that searches on smartphones have the highest conversion rates, with three of four ending in a purchase from within a physical store. This idea can also apply to a business that offers a service instead of a business, especially if visiting a physical location is necessary for the completion of that service. For example, if a customer can’t find an accurate phone number for your dental office, they are going to be less likely to follow through with booking an appointment for a cleaning.
That was a lot of information. Here’s a quick recap:
Benefits of Consistent NAP
It is crucial to keep NAP in mind when changing your business’s address, phone number, or name. Consistent NAP means consumers can find your digital home data whenever and wherever they search. It’s important because it’s an integral part of the consumer journey to conversion. Up-to-date and consistent NAP can help grow your business, while inaccuracies create a roadblock that frustrates and ultimately turns away potential customers.
While it may seem like a daunting task to update your business’s digital home, the good news is there’s help available. Save yourself time and headaches by leaving this part to the experts.
We also can take your business’s digital home to the next level with enhanced content. This goes beyond basic NAP for location data, adding information like business hours, available products/menus, photos, and more. Not only does this improve the customer experience, but it can help boost your local SEO. Still have questions? Or need help setting this up for your business? We can help! Reach out to us today!