You’ve been a computer geek all your life, or all that matters anyway. You started by helping friends and family, sometimes even got a bit testy about everyone wanting you to fix their messes, but you did it anyhow, because that is the one thing you are really good at. You know how to fix things, and other people don’t.
And suddenly you find yourself in business. Great. It’s slow at first, but that’s okay. It may be just a side gig at first growing into a regular part time venture and then amazingly, you are in position to do it full time. To be your own boss.
You start getting some good word of mouth advertising, and maybe run a few ads locally, put out an occasional flyer and what ever you think will work to attract new customers. Sooner or later you take Google up on their offer of Free Adwords credits and surprisingly find that they work. You actually start getting more customers and start making some real money. No, not millions, but still a fairly steady income that allows you to quit whatever job you had, and devote yourself to your new business as a computer repair specialist.
You decide that to appear more professional, you need to have a storefront or office away from home. Somewhere potential clients can drop off their hardware and you can keep your gear safe and away from the incidental duties of family life you used to have to deal with when working at home. (Emergency baby sitter, need a ride to the airport, etc)
So while you started your business at home, and used the home phone number to save on the expense of a business line, you now have a new address and new business phone number.
And while you were feeling your oats, and jumped into the new location with gusto, you were also a bit cautious — no sense in paying top dollar for the ideal location. Instead you found the best bargain you could. And that worked — for a while. But sooner or later you decided you wanted to make a statement with your business and moved to a much better retail location on a busier street with good visibility. Still not the high rent district perhaps, but one with even more status than the first digs.
Each step along the way you were making progress, and up-ing your game. You are now a bona-fide first rate computer repair firm and offer better service and prices than the big box boys at the mall. A true professional with somewhat higher income and expenses than the days in the basement or spare bedroom.
And the internet followed you each step of the way. And that was good and unfortunately for many businesses also a negative when it comes to the big G — Google.
But for now, things are good, until Google decides to kill Adwords for your industry and you start noticing a drop in phone calls from new customers.
Now that Google has stopped accepting ads from the computer repair and virus repair businesses, the Google 3 Pack and Google Maps listing have become all the more important. But getting Google to show your listing for all your desired keywords in your entire market area has gotten a bit more iffy.
(In other articles I spell out how to crack that Google 3 pack nut.)
While there are some critical steps to getting ranked well on Google Maps, there is a special problem for businesses which have moved, changed their business name and/or their phone numbers over time. The odds are that the old names, addresses and phone numbers still exist somewhere on the internet.
And if they are out there, the data miners and more importantly the firms that supply data miners with data, such as business lists will find your old data and assume it is still viable and they will sell it and perpetuate the bad data.
(Have you ever received a junk letter with a misspelled name — over and over again, months apart, Just one example of bad data continuing to recycle)
And this causes the Google bots heartburn. They may well believe your business, World’s Best Computer Repair Shop, is a valid business, but it starts to wonder what is your actual address,and phone number. And instead of taking a bromo, they devalue your listing as being less certain. And the result is that Google is less likely to post your business as a choice on the Google 3 Pack or Maps as a result.
Yeah, they should know better, but as smart as Google may be, its bots are relatively dumb. The same business with multiple addresses and or phone numbers confuses them.
My name is Earl Netwal, a Minneapolis based internet marketing consultant who has been working with small businesses for almost two decades. Getting folks to rank on the old Google 10 pack was my specialty, as was the Google 7 packs in subsequent years. In the old days, to get ranked on the “pack” required little more that to fill in all the information Google wanted on what is now called the Google My Business Page. And then if that was not enough, get some citations.
Citations were other directory listings that included your business name address and phone number. These could be directory listings such as the Yellow pages with actual links back to your website or even non linked listings in the local Chamber of Commerce directory, etc.
The more often Google saw the same information, business name, business address and business phone number the greater Google’s confidence your were a real business and worthy of offering as a possible resource to Google primary client — the people who search Google for information and resources.
Within the internet marketing community, we soon learned that it mattered so much that it was important to be sure clients were listed exactly the same way on all such directories down to whether or not they spelled out Avenue or used the abbreviation AVE. (Even with or without a period at the end of AVE)
Today, competition to get in the 3 Pack and to claim as large a territory as possible has amp-ed up significantly. Nonetheless, the basics from yesteryear still apply and for business that have moved a glut of old addresses, business names and old phone numbers can be unnecessarily handicapping their ability to rank as well as they may otherwise.
Perhaps the easiest way to tell if this affects your business is to do a search for your business name and then look at the results that appear on the first 3 or 4 pages. How many have old addresses or other dated info?
The do it yourself approach involves calling or logging in to each of these different listings and trying to get them to make the required changes. Some will readily, others will make you jump through hoops and others will just never respond. Not much you can do about that.
The bad news is that the old bad information keeps getting regurgitated, via the data farms.
For my clients who have had a move in their past, I recommend getting a complete Citation audit done. There are a number of firms that do so. The goal of the audit is to identify as many citations as possible that contain bad information. These can then be systematically contacted and an effort made to correct the no longer correct information.
Most of these services also offer as an add on service their handling of the correction process. This can take 12–26 weeks in some cases, depending on how frequently the service goes back to nag those who haven’t updated your information. I have used several different, including WhiteSpark and Loganix, but have found some cheaper resources that do almost as well. (Loganix has a cheap front end audit, but a much higher priced albeit perhaps the most effective cleanup service)
None of the services I have used have ever been able to get all the data corrected, but they do tend to get the major citations that seem to matter the most.
One other benefit of the audit is just identifying how many citations you have. The more the merrier. For local businesses like computer repair shops, the name of the game is to have as many as your competitors and then to have what are referred to as hyper local citations as well.
These hyper local citations are typically listings on directories that have city pages for your city, but also include local Chambers, or neighborhood directories.
While getting into the top positions on Google Maps and the 3 Pack are more difficult in many markets these days, requiring some more advanced tactics like regular Google My Business Posts and Press Releases to create news related citations, the old fashioned basic citation remains deeply embedded in Google’s algorithm and can either help or hinder your businesses ranking today.
Now with Google Adwords no longer available, as it once was, the 3 Pack is the holy grail for small locally based businesses such as the PC Computer Repair business. Make sure your citations are correct and ample.