Doing a NAPW Cleanup

napw

What is NAPW Data?

NAPW stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website. The ultimate goal of local SEO is to ensure that every online directory listing (or citation), such as Google+, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc., contains the same NAPW data.

An example of 3PRIME's NAPW data on Yelp

An example of 3PRIME’s NAPW data on Yelp. Click for a larger image.

What is a NAPW Cleanup?

A NAPW cleanup (also called a citation cleanup) involves fixing or deleting 3 types of listings:

  • Duplicate citations in the same directory
  • Citations with incorrect NAPW information
  • Incomplete listings, especially those missing your number or website

NAPW cleanups are wise choice for companies that have changed their name, address, phone number, or website in the past. NAPW cleanups are especially recommended for companies that have moved recently.

The Purpose of a NAPW Cleanup

For People:

Let’s say I’m searching for a pizza delivery restaurant in my town (Hamden, CT). I find a Yelp listing for a restaurant called XYZ Pizza in Hamden. Unbeknownst to me, XYZ Pizza recently moved to another town and changed their name, address, number, and website. However, they’ve made none of these changes to their Yelp listing. I call the restaurant and no one answers. I assume that they are closed and go call another restaurant. This confusion (and subsequent loss of business) could have easily been avoided with a NAPW cleanup.

For Search Engines:

When you create citations for your business, you are repeatedly assuring search engines that your business is indeed called by its name and is located at the correct address with the right contact information. The more correct citations you have, the more a search engine trusts your website and rewards you with higher rankings.

Having too many inconsistent citations lowers a search engine’s trust in your website and lowers your rankings. This is especially disastrous if it causes you to end up anywhere besides the first page of Google because 90% of people never advance past itAccording to Moz, “citations and external location signals are the 3rd most important ranking factor according to the Moz local search ranking factors survey. This is why it’s essential that you have your correct NAP listed across the major citation sources”. Thus, a NAPW cleanup is an integral part of any local SEO strategy. 

How to Do a NAPW Cleanup?

Data Aggregators First

Before you actually start a NAPW cleanup, you need to fix your company’s information in the data aggregators. A lot of directories get their listing information from these aggregators and incorrect information there results in incorrect listings. To learn how to claim and correct your company information in data aggregators, read my post.

Compile a List of Citations

If you are working for a client, be sure to ask them for all previous addresses and phone numbers, along with different variations of their company’s name. Let’s say I’m doing a NAPW cleanup for this company called Al’s Store. This is their correct NAPW data:

  • NAME: Al’s Store LLC
  • ADDRESS: 123 Fake Street, New Haven, CT 06511
  • PHONE: 203.555.1234
  • WEBSITE: AlsStore.com

My goal is to make sure that all the company’s listings should have this information. From the owner, I’ve gotten the following information:

  • PREVIOUS PHONE NUMBER: 203.555.4321
  • PREVIOUS ADDRESS: 123 Main Street, Hamden, CT 06518

Basically, I need to find any listings for Al’s Store that’s associated with the old phone number and address. I first start out by Googling the following queries:

  1. “Al’s Store” “203.555.4321”
  2. “Al’s Store” “123 Main”
  3. “Al’s Store” “Hamden”
  4. “Al’s Store” “06518”

I try to keep my queries as basic as possible. For #2, I left out “Street” so I don’t miss any citations that use abbreviations like “St” or “Str”. I also avoid “LLC” in all my queries because many directories consider legal entities in a business’s names to be negligible. In addition, I also left out the website. This is because directories often write the link different (for example, www versus no www) or have the company’s name (or something else like “Visit our website”) as anchor text.

I gather all the URLs from my search results and put them in a spreadsheet. This will help organize outreach efforts to webmasters. To stay organized, I alphabetize the links and delete the duplicates.

Gathering Contact Information

For each URL , you want to find the right contact information for the webmaster. The first things to look for are an email address on the website or a contact form. If you cannot find either of these, you should do a Whois lookup for the domain to see if you can find an email address. I use Register.com’s Whois lookup service. If you don’t find an email address from a Whois lookup (or from the website), you will need to do further research to find alternate ways to contact the webmaster.

Doing a Whois lookup for Moz.com

Doing a Whois lookup for Moz.com

 

Contacting Webmasters

I recommend first contacting webmasters through the contact form or email addresses that you found on the website. If these two things don’t work or go unanswered, try the email found in the Whois lookup.

When sending out emails, be sure to be as straight forward and simple as possible. Many webmasters are from other countries so English might not be their first language. If you are doing a NAPW cleanup for a client, having an email address from the client’s domain gives you more credibility. If this isn’t possible, be sure to provide your client’s contact information (see sample emails below).

I recommend doing 3-4 rounds of contacting webmasters. After each round, be sure to note which listings have been changed or deleted so you don’t waste time unnecessarily contacting them again.

Sample Emails

These are emails that I would send out on behalf of a client:

Single Listing:

Dear Sir/Ma’am:

[INSERT LISTING URL HERE]

I represent Al’s Store LLC. The above listing contains outdated information about the business.

The following is the current and correct information for the business:

  • Name: Al’s Store LLC
  • Address: 123 Fake Street, New Haven, CT 06511
  • Phone Number: 203.555.1234
  • Website: http://www.alsstore.com

Can you please make these changes? If not, can you please delete the listing? Please contact me if you have any questions.  

If you need any further verification that I am working on behalf of Al’s Store, please contact Al Smith (203.555.1234 or al@alsstore.com) and he will verify that I (Zubin Doshi from 3PRIME LLC) am indeed working for them.

Two or More Listings:

Dear Sir/Ma’am:

  • [INSERT LISTING URL HERE]
  • [INSERT LISTING URL HERE]

I represent Al’s Store LLC. On the above pages, I found listings for this business with incorrect names, address, and phone numbers. The following is the correct information for the business:

  • Name: Al’s Store LLC
  • Address: 123 Fake Street, New Haven, CT 06511
  • Phone Number: 203.555.1234
  • Website: http://www.alsstore.com

Can you please merge these listings into one with the correct information? If not, can you please delete them entirely? Please contact me if you have any questions.

If you need any further verification that I am working on behalf of Al’s Store, please contact Al Smith (203.555.1234 or al@alsstore.com) and he will verify that I (Zubin Doshi from 3PRIME LLC) am indeed working for them.

Evaluating Results

Whenever I’ve done NAPW cleanups, I notice that I get the majority of listings changed or deleted after the first round of contacting webmasters. Each subsequent round results in diminishing returns but is worth it, especially if a listing is on a highly trafficked website.

For listings that I have no success with, it usually comes down to one of the following factors:

  • Scraper websites that won’t change their data, no matter how many times you ask.
  • Websites based in other countries with webmasters unable to understand English.
  • Websites that have pretty much been abandoned with no one to maintain them.
  • Websites with no available contact information (even with a Whois lookup) or incorrect contact information that results in a response from  Mailer-Daemon.

Additional Information

Moz Local: This tool helps you find your listings on major directories and data aggregators. It also helps you pinpoint variations in your NAPW data that could be useful when compiling a list of citations.