Almost two weeks after our SEO webinar with Volume Nine we’re still talking about best practices in the wild world of search engine optimization (SEO) and online business listings.

One topic that was raised in the webinar was the tactic of adding geo modifiers to your business name when claiming your business profiles online. It’s not a great idea (in fact, Google no longer accepts geo modifiers); we’ll tell you why below. But first, a quick primer on geo modifiers.

Adding geo modifiers to your online business listings on sites such as Yahoo, Google My Business, Angie’s List and Yelp looks like this:

Taco Hut Burbank

Taco Hut Pasadena

Taco Hut Los Angeles

As we learned from SEO expert Allison Nuanes from Volume Nine, adding geo modifiers should be avoided when creating listings for your business locations for the following reasons:

1. NAP Consistency
It’s important that your NAP data (name, address, phone number) is consistent across all locations on the web. Google will reward your business with better search results if your business is listed simply as “Taco Hut.”

 When you randomly assign geo modifiers to your business name across multiple sites, you are actually changing your business name and Google doesn’t like that.

 2. Google’s Algorithm Is Dialed into Your Location
Google knows where you are located whether you are on a desktop, tablet or phone, so their algorithm is going to return results that are relevant to your location. If you live in Pasadena, your search results will feature the Pasadena location of Taco Hut first.

 3. Geo Modifiers Can Appear Tricky
Search engines suspect that geo modifiers (such as “Dental Doctors – Oakland”) may be trying to trick searchers. For example, a plumber in Orange County may call themselves “Bill’s Plumbing – Los Angeles” on Yelp or Google My Business in order to land L.A. business, but search engines already know it’s an O.C. business.

 4. Geo Modifiers Can Hurt Businesses with Multiple Locations
For some searches, Google may look at the number of locations it can find for a business in order to determine ranking. If Google wants to return search results by number of locations in a certain region, it will look to see how many locations it can find in that region. For example, let’s say that the searcher is looking for “pediatric dentists” near Nashville, Tennessee.

If the locations for a certain Nashville-area pediatric dentistry clinic have different names for their five locations using geo modifiers (such as “Rose Pediatric Dentistry – Nashville” and “Rose Pediatric Dentistry – Franklin”) search engines may look at those as separate businesses. But if every location is simply called  “Rose Pediatric Dentistry,” search engines will know how many locations there are in that region. There is a higher likelihood of greater authority for this clinic in local search.

So remember, consistency is the key with NAP data. Don’t take geo-shortcuts that will hurt your SEO in the end.

Alex is Connectivity’s VP of Marketing.