I recently got married, and by recently I mean almost a year and a half ago. After some discussion with my husband and some personal contemplation, I decided to change my last name to be the same as my husband's.
Now, over a year later, I am still finding my maiden name in places it simply shouldn't be.
And this experience is often very similar to dealing with your business's local SEO presence. You submit your data to the top directories, and you still continue to find mistakes or areas that need improvement weeks, months, and possibly even years later.
This lead me to consider all the ways that changing your legal name and implementing local SEO are similar. And here's what I've come up with:
You Have to Make a Plan First
When you're changing your name, you have a lot of decisions regarding what that change will look like. Do you want to simply drop your current last name? Do you want to replace your middle name with your current last name? Do you want to hyphenate names? The options can be a little daunting, especially if you wait until your faced by the paperwork to make a final decision.
The same goes for local SEO. You have to have a written plan before you start submitting data across the web. Otherwise, the likelihood that you will make a mistake, or not like the results is increased.
You Have to Start in the Right Place
When it comes to changing your name, this seems like a no brainer. But you have to show up at the social security office first before you can change your name legally anywhere else. (Of course, you can update your social media profiles at any time!)
Starting with the right directories is also important when it comes to local SEO. If you want to maximize your effort and minimize your time spent, it is important to start in the right place and work your way down.
You Have to Show Up With the Right Verification
Changing your name? You need proof, typically your marriage license, that you are eligible for a name change. If you're creating listings, sometimes you are going to need proof that you are where you say you are. This may mean simply checking your email and approving the listing, or it may be a more extended process that requires old school mail verification or phone verification.
It Seems Like It's a Never Ending Process
With both your name change and your local SEO, you keep thinking of places you need to either update or list your business with. And the list never seems to grow shorter despite all the work you put into it.
And Just When You Think Your Done...You Find Another Mistake
I still keep finding my old name on back accounts I rarely use, online shopping accounts that I thought I updated, and even documents like passports that I don't use with too much frequency. And the same goes for local SEO. Right when you think the data is 100% accurate, one of the listings just won't accept the correct information and keeps changing it back.
Changing your legal name and implementing local SEO can both be frustrating, but although my name may not be accurate everywhere, it is correct in most of the places that matter. And while fighting with local listings is never much fun, having business listings can make a huge impact on your overall business. In the end, both these tasks are well worth the trouble.