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You work hard; we work hard.  Who doesn’t love a well-timed power nap?  However, today we’re not talking about sleep; we’re talking about a really, really important NAP.

NAP is online speak for Name-Address-Phone.  Well, every practice has those three things, so what’s the big deal?  Let me explain.  Most practices have either moved, added or lost a new doctor, added or subtracted a location, changed their practice name, or added a phone number in the last five years.  Because of this natural practice evolution, online listings of your practice and/or doctors can sometimes become confused.

Internet search engines (like Google, Yahoo, and even Facebook) love consistency.  When they see a business whose NAP info is ALWAYS exactly the same all over the internet, they are happy.  These business listings are all over the place; whitepages.com, Healthgrades, Yelp, Angie’s List, your website(s), your social media pages, chamber of commerce, hospital directories, etc.  Most practices have at least 25 online listings, and some have hundreds.

As mentioned earlier, most practices have minor changes to their NAP info over time, so it’s remarkably common that old addresses and phone numbers linger on some of these online listing sites.  When that is the case, your likeability score for online searches suffers.  If you are a practice where being easily found via online searches is important, evaluating your NAP consistency is pretty important.  Here are some pointers:

  • decide what your NAP should be.  Write down your EXACT practice name, main office address, and main phone number.  And by exact, I mean down to the period, comma and address abbreviations.
  • search the following, and make a note of the top 10 results for;
    • your practice name
    • each of your doctor’s names (i.e. Dr Mike Smith, or Dr Smith dermatologist)
    • specialty search (i.e. good dentist in Dover, best cardiologist)
  • then, look at the listings you find for your practice and docs, and note which ones have Name, Address or Phone which isn’t an exact match to your “standard”.
  • Don’t worry about fixing every listing, especially if there are dozens or hundreds.  Fix the ones that come up the highest in online search.  In the northeast, that tends to be Healthgrades, Vitals, YP.com (yellow pages) and Zocdoc.
  • The single most important site to be listed correctly is your Google Business listing (typically shown under or next to a map image when doing a Google search).  Even if you did not create a Google Business page, it exists (Google auto-creates them).  And don’t forget to check the NAP info on your practice website and social media pages.
  • Now get to work getting the wrong ones corrected.  For the online listing sites (like Healthgrades and yp.com) you’ll need to request a correction from the online listing page.  They will typically ask a question or 2 to make you prove you are authorized to request the change.  For instance, they may ask for a doctor’s state license number, or a scan of a driver’s license.  In some case, corrections are nearly immediate.  In others, it may take several weeks.  Some listings (including Google) will actually snail-mail an authorization code to your business address, assuming that if you get it in the mail, then you must work there. 

The entire process can take a bit of time, but it is usually the best return on time investment in terms of improving your online search friendliness.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this yourselves, there are numerous consultants and companies that can assist you.  If you don’t know of one, we suggest finding someone with healthcare SEO experience, since healthcare search is a bit different than search for other business types.  Your local medical/dental society, and your national specialty society, are usually good resources for referrals.

Good luck, and we hope you enjoy your NAP!

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