How to handle business data changes
Businesses change every day. They experience mergers/acquisitions, rebrand, move to new locations, and change phone numbers. These are common occurrences of the commercial landscape, but they present a unique challenge: how does a local business get their new data reflected on the Internet? Because old information can result in lost revenue from misdirected consumers and lost rankings from failure to follow best practices, these data change events must be managed properly.
Two options for managing data changes
When your name, address, or phone number (NAP) changes, you’ll typically have two options for managing this event on the web:
- Find all existing references to your old data on the Internet manually. This is includes all mentions on your website, all of your local business listings/citations, and all unstructured references on blogs, news sites, etc. Edit each of these references manually. Update the pages and elements (like headers, footers, and links) on your website. Edit all of your existing listings/citations (be sure you’re editing existing listings instead of creating new ones), whether via a form, phone call, or email. Contact all possible publications referencing your old data to ask them to please update these mentions to reflect your new NAP.
- You can lighten some of the above workload via an automated location data management service like Moz Local which will distribute your new data to your existing listings on some of the most important platforms. These types of services are valued for the significant amount of time they save you. You’ll still need to manually edit your website and any platforms/blogs/news sites, etc. not managed by the paid service you choose.
Special considerations involving NAP change events
When a business changes its name or phone number, it’s typically a simple matter of updating old references to feature the new data. Actually moving your business is often more complex. Unless a business is occupying a brand-new building, the physical address will have had a previous occupant, complete with old local listings referencing the former business at that address. Here are the steps we recommend for business moves:
- Update all references to the old address on your website. This includes page content, footers, and headers. Announce the move on your homepage and other appropriate pages. Provide new driving directions and a map.
- Find the listings (especially the Google My Business listing) for the former occupant and mark the listing as closed in Google or report it as closed to the support teams of other major platforms.
- Update your own existing local business listings (rather than creating new ones) to reflect your new address.
- Update other web references (blogs, news sites, government indexes, professional association sites) by contacting them to inform them of your new data.
- Announce your move on all of your social media accounts.
- Monitor your local business listings in the following months to be sure no duplicate listings have cropped up as a result of the move.
This methodology should steer you through the moving process with as few problems as possible.
Additionally, while changing phone numbers typically involves a simple edit of all existing references, there is one proviso: when choosing a new number, search for it first on the Internet. If you find it associated with previous businesses that are being cited by Internet users for cold calling, spam, or scams, don’t select that as your new number.
Finally, don’t accidentally violate Google’s guidelines during a NAP change event. It’s not uncommon to see businesses doing this when they rebrand or move.
For example, you’ll see a business that was formerly named Jim’s Cafe and is now named Jim’s Diner editing their Google My Business name to read Jim’s Diner (Formerly Jim’s Cafe). Or you’ll see a business that has moved from uptown to downtown edit the Google My Business name field to Jim’s Diner – Now Downtown. As these modified business names don’t reflect the real-world name of the business, they are violations of Google’s guidelines and should be avoided.
Instead, you must rely on Google and other search engines understanding the change in data from the fields that have been legitimately edited to reflect your new real-world data.