The natural evolution of a private practice usually involves, at one point or another, moving offices, getting a new phone number, or changing your practice name. Most of us have experienced these changes and everything that goes along with them — informing our clients, updating our website to match the new information, and if you thought about it, updating your Psychology Today profile and Google+ Local listing.
Updating your new information in a few places after a move is great, but what happens to the rest of the places your business is mentioned online?
The Importance of Your Online Business Information
Your business name, address and phone number (usually referred to as your NAP — name, address, phone) are used by Google (and other search engines) as unique identifiers for your business. Any mention of your NAP online is considered a ‘citation’ and is used by Google when evaluating the online authority of your business. There are hundreds of citation websites, many of which you have most likely heard of. Examples of websites where citations reside (also called ‘directory sites’) include: Psychology Today listings, Google+ Local listings, Business Facebook pages, YellowPages listings, and Yelp listings.
If you’re interested in learning more about the top citation sites in the US (according to WhiteSpark), you can download it here (or by clicking the image below).
Most of the time, these websites get business data directly from you when you create a listing. Other times, websites will add your business by pulling data from data aggregators around the web. This means that your practice is most likely listed in several places that you don’t even know about.
The Importance of Updating Your Online Business Information
Unless you manually update each and every mention of your business online when you move offices, or update your phone number, inconsistent data will naturally begin to float around the internet. While we all wish it was as easy as updating your information on your Google+ Local Listing or on your Psychology Today profile, updating only a few listings does not fix the problem around the web.
Google pulls information from various places (including large data aggregators like Localeze, Axciom and more), so updating your business data in one spot will continuously feed Google’s index with old data. This leaves us with one very confused Google.
To get a better visual of the infinite sources Google pulls data from, see the graphic below created by Moz Local.
Now that you know how Google pulls information, it’s very important to understand why it’s critical for you to stay consistent with your business information online.
3 Reasons Why Online Consistency is Key
1. Google Likes Consistency
As the ‘Local Search Ecosystem’ graphic above illustrates, Google pulls its information from a large number of sources. Because Google’s index is built on data from all over the web, your business information must be consistent everywhere.
Otherwise, when Google sees your practice is located at 123 Baker Street on Google+ Local, and 321 Butcher Street on YellowPages, Yelp, Psychology Today and various other online directories, the lack of consistent data will lead to Google discrediting your business and not showing you in the search results.
2. Inconsistencies Lead to Lower Rankings
Unfortunately, inconsistencies in your NAP (remember, this is our shortened version of ‘Name Address and Phone’), can lead to ranking lower in the search engines for the keywords you want to rank for. Think about it — why would Google serve up your practice when it can’t figure out where you are actually located?
In an ideal world, you will have a strong website (with all the essentials of a therapy site) paired with consistent information around the web (including an optimized Google+ Local Listing). This will give the search engines accurate data to help rank you for your keywords AND more importantly, allow your potential clients to find you. If you do not have a website that is getting you clients, learn about how we can help here.
NOTE: If you have a group practice, ensure that all your citations online are for your group practice — not your individual practitioners.
3. Potential Clients Can Find You
As I mentioned before, when consistent data about your private practice exists online, potential clients are more likely to find you. This is reason enough to clean up your act online ASAP.You can see just how important consistent business information is in this graphic by Moz Local:
Incorrect or inconsistent data online can lead to a number of issues. When you have multiple business names, addresses and phone numbers floating around online, it prevents your business listings (and your website) from showing up in search results and makes it much harder for potential clients to find you online.
Next week, we will look at how to find your business citations and how to clean them up.