By Mac Frederick
Founder & CEO of Momentum Digital
Changing addresses and moving a location is a pain in the ass. There’s no doubting the fact of how annoying and expensive it can be to focus on all the logistics, setup, buildout, and various chaos that becomes your life for the next few weeks. Having a local retail or service business in a physical brick and mortar location can have it’s advantages: foot traffic, visibility, branding, and allows for a better chance to rank locally on search engines.
… but what about the headache that pursues, and how will people even find you?
As business owners so much of your life will be focused on the day-to-day operations of this move, but what about your online presence? What about your address? Did these even cross your mind?
Many of you will start with your bank, or post office, or even your state/federal documents. That’s cool and all, but does it help you get more business? Does that help you rank higher on Google?
The majority of readers will experience a serious drop-off in digital traffic when changing your listings on your website, and the rest of the digital citations with your old address. I don’t mean from Google Analytics or your website traffic, I mean your local search rankings in the map pack. Here is an article by our friends at Digital Coast Marketing that further explains the Google Map Pack search results.
To avoid the major disaster of local digital traffic reduction when moving your location next, please follow this guide to the Top 10 Steps to Updating Your Local Business Address Online.
Don’t believe me? Well, I’m going through this now with my current business relocation. So watch along or follow the steps to see how my Google Maps Views increased 18% and Search Views only decreased 13% in the last 30 days during my recent local business move.
Okay, let’s get down to business!
- Confirm your new address?
Where are you moving to and how is it currently represented online? Do you need to emphasize a floor, unit number, or suite? How are other units represented? Do you share a location with someone? What zip code will you be using?
Here is an article written by our friend Miriam Ellis with Moz a few years ago talking about some of the benefits and difficulties using a co-working or shared office address as your online listing. This is actually something near and dear to my heart, as I was able to build most of my location-based businesses by starting with an office and then moving to a brick and mortar location (DM me for the strategic details 😉
All things being equal, just be smart and strategic when picking your new location, as this must be strategically used and represented online with the utmost similarity.
- Create a Google Sheet of all Local Listings & Directory Sites
Not sure where you’re currently listed? Well, do a Google search of your exact address. You’ll quickly see links to all location, sites, directories, and citations online.
Granted this list is old, but here is an article written by Omnicore in 2013 mentioning 200 of the top local listing sites and directories. You can simply download this or copy it into your own Google Sheet.
Looking for a cheat sheet? Comment below and I’ll personally share my Google Sheet that has my top guidelines and listings.
- Change the location starting with Google My Business?
What search engine do you use? Google? Yea, me too, along with 80% of the country. Sorry Bing, Yahoo, and countless search engines that will never get my search data.
Google is the holy grail for search (although Amazon, Facebook, and voice search are all making some growth). Considering this, start your local business address change with Google — using Google My Business. Make sure to properly login, go to your account information tab, and make the proper address changes here. This is home base and the first starting point for changing the rest of your online listings, as they must properly reflect how you represented the new address on Google.
Once you add this new location on Google, be sure to optimize the listing as well. Here is a video on YouTube where I explain how to optimize your Google My Business listing for the new features. Make sure to add/optimize the follow:
- Name, Address, Phone Number
- Add pictures, images, and video
- Add in your services and a business description
- Turn on instant messaging (with a cell phone number to text)
- Update your business category options
- Start using Google Posts (just like you would to social media)
- Change the location everywhere on your website
This on is pretty self explanatory. Find all the areas on your website that you mention your old address, and change it to the new address. You can do this by using Google or using Command+F (search feature) on your website. Once in the backend of your website you can just change out the HTML to reflect your new address. I would also suggest using a hypertext link a few times with the address linking out to the proper Google Maps URL address like this.
Once you changed the addresses, I would recommend adding a local schema markup to the website. This article by The HOTH talks about adding local schema markup and using structured data to have better SEO and website performance.
Now that you have changed all the addresses, added schema to the website, and finalized those changes, it’s time to re submit to Google. Login to your google webmaster tools search console and submit your sitemap which is pointed to your website’s “sitemap.xml”. Using this sitemap, Google will scan, crawl and index your pages. Here is a blog by Hubspot showing you how to submit your site to Google.
- Use syndication sources to change the rest of the locations
You’re probably thinking, “what the hell is syndication?” Typically this term is referred to with Broadcast Syndication for Television. It refers to ‘the transfer of something for control or management by a group of individuals or organizations’. Now when referring to content or SEO syndication it means instead of you manually uploading and optimizing your local business information to each source or directory, you can use one source to do it for you. For example, you can use Yext or Moz to submit your information and they we can do the rest for you.
Moz has been around for over a decade and is well-known and trusted as an industry and thought leader in the SEO space. You can use their software for various things, but I would suggest paying $100-$250 per year to have them optimize and syndicate your listings to their partner directory. This platform also lets you scan and audit your local listing SEO, then manage and optimize it using the paid version. I would recommend using their Free Scan tool to review your current SEO score, and then pay for the optimization with their software package.
Yext is another major player in the Local SEO & Content syndication world. They have been around almost as long, and serve an even larger directory and citation database. Yext Pro serves more than 100 listings and directories, and with the click of a button you can publish and optimize most of your local listing SEO presence. Yext also allows for you to publish content like photos, videos and social media posts, while also incorporating reporting and analytics. One of their other cool features is their reputation management software that alerts you of reviews that you can respond to which helps for customer relationship management. Users can sign up and even pay as you go with weekly pricing pricing starting at $4.
Using one of these content SEO syndications will make your life a lot easier, as you only need to remember 1-2 logins that take care of the heavy lifting for you.
- Review and Update your Social Media pages
If you’re not already using social media then we have bigger issues to address. I think by now most businesses are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Instagram has quickly become the most widely used and accepted platform from an engagement basis, but keep in mind some other platforms that aren’t as much about engaging with your social community, but instead are focused on having a local presence. Some commonly overlooked social listing sites include Yelp, Foursquare, and Linkedin. Each of these platforms allow you to not only create a business account, but they allow you to add your location information (Name, Address, Phone Number) and website URL. [a][b]
These social website do serve up social signals that factor into your SEO rankings, both nationally and locally. This article written by our friends at MentionLytics goes over the Top 10 Social Sites to use to enhance your SEO. So, for each of these pages, make sure to not only create an account, but to optimize your profile and add in your accurate information, while also remember to actively post and engage with your community as you grow!
- Review & Update Your Online Directories
Remember the days of the phone book? Well those days are over. Why do you think companies rebranded and moved their print business online, like Hibu? They realized the industry shift with the emergence of the internet and gradually moved their assets online, and offered digital advertising options. Similar to having a print listing in the Yellowbooks, you want to make sure you have a digital business listing on various directories online. These directories, such as Hibu, Yellowpages, SuperPages and more, allow business owners to have a digital directory and citation that is scanned, crawled and indexed by Google. By optimizing these directories with your relevant business information upon an address change, you’ll be doing Google and other search engines a favor so they can understand where your business has moved.
Here are some of Top U.S. Local Directory Citation Sources
- Google Search Your Name and Previous Address
If you’re like most people, you won’t really know or remember all the places you originally listed your business online, and that’s okay. What you can do is a simple Google Search. Just search your old business name and address and see what comes up. Then go to those links and try to find or reset a login so you can update the listing. Many of these take time, and some cost money, but just make sure to update them. Updating these listings will keep search engines like Google from being confused. Accuracy and consistency is key.
- Search and Update Your Listing Weekly
Do this time and again to see how your changes are being reflected. Make sure to check on this weekly to see if your SEO rankings are improving and you’re getting better search results in Google. Moz and Yext should be giving updates on your business listing accuracy, and you can also pull insights from Google My Business and Google Analytics.
- Audit your SEO Score with Yext & Moz
Updating all your listings and directories online takes some time. I would allocate a week just to make all the changes, and then another two months to review those changes. It takes search engines like Google a few months simple to update and accurately scan, crawl and index these links and citations. Within 3 months you should have this process completed and a very solid grasp as to how well you have increased your overall local search presence.
As you begin the process, start with a Moz and Yext scan and local audit. Then, after 3 months, complete these scans again. You should see a drastic improvement, which will then be reflected in your search results and overall local traffic.
So that was easy right? You got it? Well, if not, give me a call or shoot me a message. I’m here to help.
Having worked at Google, I know a thing or two about this tricky search engine. The past 3 years I built both my businesses off the back of Google, especially using Local SEO to drive the growth and revenue of Phone Repair Philly.