When you send a letter to someone, what’s the first thing you write? The person or business it’s going to, yes? It’s clear then, that the name is a critical part of the address. And yet, this can be a tricky thing for startups and small businesses.
When you first set up your business, let’s say you called it Fred Nerk Pty Ltd. Since that sounds a bit forma, sometimes you refer to it as Fred’s Flowers or sometimes as Fred Nerk Florist. While your business is still the same “thing”, it seems to be going by three different names.
Yet for the programs that scan the Internet (also called bots), they typically not as confident as humans might be that these three names are indeed indeed one business. To some, that’s three different businesses. Yes, even if they have the same address & phone number.
In Local Search, we refer to the full businesses identity as the NAP (Name, Address, Phone). So if you want to make it absolutely clear to the programs running the Internet that there is just one business they need to know about at this address, you need to make sure references to your business online all use the same NAP.
Google and other search engines use the information they find to help fill out details of your business that may be displayed publicly. The information also may influence how visible your business is to people searching for your products or services.
- Make sure the address is “readable” – be sure the bots can read through the information. Images, for example, aren’t yet being understood by the bots to harvest text on the images. So if you can “copy and paste” the address on your website and paste that text into notepad, you’re probably ok.
Don’t worry about tiny differences like “Street” vs “St” or “Avenue” vs “Ave” or “Ave.”, but do take action if it’s “Rd” and supposed to be “Street”, or “Ste” (suite) instead of “Street”.
- If you can, put it in Schema format. Plain HTML works, but schema is the preferred format for structured information by the major search engines. You can use this schema creator tool to create the coding which you can then copy and paste into your website.
- The NAP can be put anywhere on your site. The footer is ideal (for single location businesses) and/or the contact page. If you have multiple locations, just add the code to the contact page for each location.
Don’t worry about putting it in the header or title tag. That’s precious screen real-estate – use it for helping with converting prospects.
UPDATE: The programs running Google’s understanding of your business information have become a whole lot better at understanding multiple names for the same entity. Facebook, Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp, and many other key services, however, still have a long way to go. In this situation it’s safer to make the NAP crystal clear and consistent.