UNAP Consistency, It’s About Trust
Back in September, I traveled up to NYC to attend Local U. Local U is an intimate one day conference run by some of the most trusted Local SEO professionals. Representatives from Google were also in attendance and presented on how Google views Local.
You may be wondering, what is Local SEO? When a user goes to Google and searches for “hotel in DC,” “restaurant in Boston,” “dentist office in Olney, MD” or “South Beach nail salon,” these are all searches with local intent. The user wants to see results for the actual physical type of business or service he/she is looking for in the specified area. Search engines set aside a separate part of their search engine result pages just for local results.
For hotel related searches in Google, this now is seen as a 3-pack (RIP Carousel):
Google has a separate algorithm to determine what businesses show up in local results. This algorithm is as complex and evolving as the algorithm that determines the classic organic results.
At Local U, the presenters went into detail about many of the factors that can help your business rank in local results. One factor that was discussed in multiple presentations was UNAP consistency. UNAP sounds a little technical, but it’s actually a pretty basic concept!
- What is UNAP? UNAP stands for URL, Name, Address and Phone Number. In one presentation at Local U, UNAP was shown with an image of a finger print. You should think of UNAP as your online identity. It is unique to your hotel and only changes if you are changing your identity.
- What about UNAP is important? Consistency. Everywhere a search engine or a user looks for information about your hotel, you want to ensure your UNAP is accurate.
- Why does consistency matter? It’s about TRUST! The representatives from Google at Local U made it very clear; Google wants to provide the best results possible. Google does not want to put businesses in local results that have closed down or show incorrect information from a business. This provides a poor user experience. For search engines to feel confident in showing your hotel in local results, they need to trust that your hotel is an open and operating business, is located at an exact address that a customer could easily find and has a working phone number where a customer can reach you. If search engines start finding different variations of your name, address, phone number or URL, they have less trust in putting your hotel in local results.
- Why can’t search engines get my UNAP directly from my website? There are millions of local businesses all over the world. David Mihm, one of the founders of Local U, pointed out that many local businesses still don’t have websites. And many local businesses that do have websites still have not implemented technical best practices that would allow the search engines to easily read their name, address and phone number. Also, some businesses are not good at updating their website with correct information when they close down, change names or move locations. Even as more local business start websites and get better at updating information and implementing technical best practices, it is assumed that UNAP consistency is still important. Search engines need validation from multiple sources to TRUST your hotel’s information.
- If my business is already ranking in local search, do I still need to worry about UNAP consistency? Yes! Search engines are constantly scanning the web for information, and you want to always ensure they find the correct information about your hotel. If not, funny stuff can start to happen! Search engines might start showing that your hotel is closed, display an old phone number for the hotel or show your hotel with the hotel down the street’s address.
- What can I do to help my hotel’s UNAP? In the MDS program we take care of a lot of this for you, but we can always use help! Ensure that everyone at your hotel is aware that your hotel’s UNAP is exactly how it is listed on your hotel website. And never use other variations of your hotel’s UNAP on or offline. Keep it consistent and keep building the trust with search engines!