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Telephone Numbers, NAP and Local SEO

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by Nigel Farage, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    DAMMIT ! When I Tell You Something, PAY ATTENTION!

    So a few months back this other Local SEO consults with me on why his client is only Letter "D" in the Local SERPs. He says he's done "everything" and still his client's listing doesn't budge. He's got the local competition beat by every metric he can think of, and is considering the possibility that the Local Search Results are (his word) "random".

    So, after a brief look-see, I learn that he is for the most part correct. There is parity in all the metrics I can think of too, which made me start to think about the possibility that instead of failing to "move upward", perhaps his client is being "held back". It's not the absence of a positive, it's the presence of a negative.

    Maybe his NAP is inconsistent.

    1st thing: Do a Google Search of the address, to see if there are multiple businesses trying to rank locally using the same address. Nope.

    2nd thing: Do a Google Search of the phone number. Use the (xxx) yyy-zzzz format.

    SURPRISE. More than half of the 1st two pages of results of a search of my friend's client's phone number has Ms. Phallacia Rottentwat's business associated with it in the local citations.

    After doing some research into Ms. Rottentwat's business, it appears that she had the number 1st, then changed to a different number years ago, and never changed all those citations to the new number. So they've been clouding the current business's NAP for years, effectively keeping them out of the top 3 positions in the Local Search results.

    Time to Learn How to Think Like Google

    If you were Google, and it was your job to decide which business gets placed above which business, and you had to do it for hundreds and thousands of businesses for hundreds of thousands of keywords, what standards would you use, if all you had available was the data that Google has on all of those businesses.

    This (above) is the critical perspective one must have in order to figure out how Google does what it does, and why. And you are not going to gain it any other way. Algorithmic factors will come & go, and the various methods to game the algorithm will also come & go, but the one constant you can always rely on is that Google is a dumb computer using an algorithm (set of rules) and a big-ass database to make all of it's decisions. HOW it uses that data is the key to all other understanding. If you fail to learn to think like this, you will forever fail to understand Local SEO, as either a professional or as a local business owner trying to do-it-yourself.

    In this case, Google has and uses phone numbers. Consider:

    Case A: Phone number (123) 456-7890 has exactly one business name associated with it, and that business name has only one address associated with it.

    Case B: Phone number (098) 765-4321 has 2 different businesses associated with it, and two different addresses.

    All other factors being equal, which telephone number ranks higher than the other?

    (Note: I said "telephone number" that ranks, and NOT the business. What I'm describing here is the "weight" or "juice" that the telephone number gives to whatever business that claims to be using it. We could call this "Telephone Number Juice".)

    People that think they understand NAP consistency assume that they 1st start with the business name, and then look for multiple phone numbers and addresses, and if they do not find any, they assume their NAP is consistent. And they are wrong.

    You must also start with the business phone number (and the address) and look to see if anything other than your (or your client's) business is assocated with that data. If yes, then the NAP is clouded, polluted and in general inconsistent.

    What does an Inconsistent NAP Mean to Google?

    It ain't random, and it ain't some arbitrary rule that comes from out of nowhere. An inconsistent NAP could mean any of the following:

    1) One or both businesses are out of business
    2) One or both businesses have moved
    3) The business owner hasn't updated their business's information (neglectful)
    4) One or both of the business's phone numbers have changed.

    Google isn't going to send agents out in the field to find out which business is where, and which phone number they are currently using. Instead, Google is going to give that business a "minus <something>" on some factor in the algorithm, and that minus is going to negatively affect both businesses' placement in the Local Search Results. It simply cannot be any other way. Does Google ignore inconsistent NAP, and send it's Users calling and driving to non-existent business that moved, went out of business or changed their phone numbers years ago? Hell no. People would be flocking to Bing. It would be "Strike One, and Google is OUT".

    So, never underestimate how critically important a consistent NAP is. It says a LOT about that business. It says

    1) The business exists, and it has <this> name.
    2) The business exists, and it is <here>.
    3) The business exists, and it has <this> phone number.
    4) The owner of the business cared enough to make his NAP consistent.

    You couldn't ask for a more-fair standard for a business to be measured, nor could you ask for an easier way to be evaluated highly.

    Okay, so back to my rant.

    The guy calls me (on Skype) yesterday with the same question. "OH!" he wails. "My client has more reviews, more citations, more everything than all the other competitors, and yet there they are STILL on position "D". Oh PLEASE Nigel, you swami-fucking Guru you, PLEASE tell me oh great wizard WHY my client is still letter "D"! "

    So, being an accommodating and obedient guru, I do the same thing I did the 1st time. Check all the general parameters, and they all look good. Run a Google Search of the phone number and....

    AND....

    ...and Ms. Phallacia Rottentwat's business is STILL taking up half of the 1st two pages of the local search results of that phone number! 3 months later, and the guy STILL hasn't fixed that shit.

    Don't make the same mistake. When I tell you this shit, pay attention. Then DO something, if something needs to be done. Don't just sit there in the puddle of your warm pee-pee, and wait for someone to come change your diaper, because that ain't going to happen.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  2. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    Doing a Google Search of a Phone Number: How, and Why

    If you read the above post, you should already have the idea that Telephone Numbers have juice. This post is about learning where that juice comes from, and how much the telephone number is getting, and from where. And you've read it here first. I've created the Term "Telephone Number Juice".

    https://www.google.com/#q=telephone+number+juice

    Today, there's nothing but trash results about fruit juice and other irrelevancies, and nothing at all about SEO and local search results.

    Do a Google search of any local business's phone number using this format: (xxx) yyy-zzzz

    While looking at the results, ask yourself "Why did Google pick this order to rank these pages?"

    In some cases, it will be obvious. Maybe "A" is the businesses Google Places/Google+ Local page. Maybe "B" is the business's Yelp page. "C" could be Facebook. "D" could be yp.com. "E" could be Merchant Circle, etc....

    What does this all mean?

    (And here's the thing that will skull-fuck your brain.)

    The answer to that question is right there in front of you. Google is telling you DIRECTLY what it thinks of each and every single one of those pages. It's telling you this:

    "I, Google, by virtue of the standards and programming that I have been given, do hereby inform the <User> that the following pages are listed, in order of importance to me, in the following order:

    A - Google Places/Google+ Local (this specific page only)
    B - Yelp (this specific page only)
    C - Facebook (this specific page only)
    D - yp.com (this specific page only)
    E - Merchant Circle (this specific page only)
    etc...."

    Google is talking RIGHT AT YOU. All you have to do is PAY ATTENTION.

    So, if the above results are for the Letter "A" competitor for the local results for that particular phone number, what does that say? It says that, for whatever reason, in this particular circumstance, Google thinks those pages are the most important 5 pages for that particular phone number. Is it the phone number that makes those 5 pages important? Answer: NO.

    Then what is it? It is, of course, the pages themselves. Maybe the page is important because it's domain is important (yp.com). Maybe the page is important because it has 187 reviews on it (Merchant Circle). Maybe the page is important because it has 34,397 spammy backlinks aimed at it (heh). These pages are giving juice TO the telephone number, and that juice is going to whatever business claims to be using that phone number. Telephone numbers have juice, and local citations give telephone numbers that juice.

    The point here is that Google is telling you WHAT is important; it's your job to then go out and figure out WHY. Then, of course, you use that knowledge to duplicate what works. Monkey-see, monkey-do. It ain't rocket science; it's just common sense.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  3. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    Advanced Lesson

    If an "accidental" clouded/polluted NAP will hold you back in the Local Search results, then a deliberate duplicate address/phone number will hold back a competitor. Some of these citations do not require any kind of verification (besides email). One might not have much effect, but if you were Google, and you saw 30 citations saying Business "A" had phone number "A", and 30 citations that said Business "B" had phone number "A", which would you do?

    A: Rank Business "A" high, and disregard Business "B"
    B: Rank Business "B" high, but rank Business "A" higher
    C: Rank both "A" and "B" low, because who the fuck really knows what's going on here?
     
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  4. elschlongo

    elschlongo Junior Member

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    How would you go about correcting the listings that have the incorrect information on them if they aren't your listings? How do we change miss rottentwats info?
     
  5. Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage BANNED BANNED

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    Good question. It varies from citation to citation. Some are low-level, and they can be deleted right there & right then. Like if, you were a business owner, and did not want your business listed by that site, they let you just delete it. Sometimes you can claim Ms. Rottentwat's business as your own, and once (e-mail) verified, you can delete or modify it any way you like. (for example, you could change the phone number to one of your competitors).

    ;)

    Sometimes you have to dig, and find a "flag" feature that requires follow-up. Sometimes you have to send an email to some stooge in a cubicle. The hardest ones are those that scrape their data from "somewhere else". You can fix "somewhere else", but if the satellite data scraper doesn't scrape for 3 months, and they have no administrative mechanism to change the data, you might be SOL.

    In my friend's case, he is going to call Ms. Rottentwat and explain how it is in both of their business interests to have both of their NAPs consistent.

    The short answer is that it's a case-by-case basis. In this particular case, given that there are about 30 incorrect citations, I would work the list in order in which they are presented in the Google search results for the (xxx) yyy-zzzz phone number, as that is the order in which Google thinks they are important.
     
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  6. elschlongo

    elschlongo Junior Member

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    Thanks Nigel, I've always had that question when thinking about helping local businesses.

    I also want want to thank you for the advice you share when working with local businesses. I always get a laugh with your colorful commentary, but more importantly, I learn something. So, thanks for your contributions