What is a NAP?
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Your NAP profile gives the basic information regarding your business to search engines like Google. The information helps search engines to distinguish your business from others. Hence it is essential for organic ranking.
Companies mark up their NAP details with Local Business Schema Markup for a clear understanding among all search engines. When people search for businesses online, search engines will show the NAP information on the Search Engine Result Pages. It is a simple way of making search engines validate your brick-and-mortar business.
NAP data is one of the main ranking factors for local SEO. NAP information greatly improves customer experience as customers will find it easy to reach you. Correctly indexing your business’s NAP will help your customers find you easily through direction apps such as Google Maps.
Importance of NAP
When your potential customers look for local businesses online, Google shows them geo-specific results. It will also cross-reference your NAP details across various directories such as Yelp to check whether yours is a legit business.
Having consistent NAP info across all your listings and social media profiles will determine your ranking. Most importantly, NAP is one of the main ranking factors for search engines. Because Google thrives on recommending trustworthy and geo-specific businesses to its users, NAP and its consistency are vital for your local SEO success.
More than anyone, local businesses need NAP as around 78% of searches made online with local intent achieve a direct visit to a store in the next 24 hours.
The Role of NAP in Local SEO
Think of how a user usually searches for a local business. They are most likely to use terms like “movers and packers near me,” “best salons in Tacoma,” and “affordable apartments in Yonkers.”
Before recommending local businesses and services to users, search engines look for citations across various websites. These websites are usually directories. Having your NAP set up correctly and consistently across various sites influences Google’s recommendations.
As a local business, when you set up your Google My Business Listing correctly and list your business across various sites with the same NAP, Google will presume your business as a credible one.
Another phenomenon that one must consider is the shift from desktop searches to mobile searches. According to Think with Google, 30% of searches made on Google are related to location. When users are particular about their queries, search engines ought to recommend them the ideal local businesses. Otherwise, the users will get frustrated and may move on to another search engine for relevant results. This is where NAP gains significance in local SEO.
How to fix NAP Inconsistency?
Give No Room For Variations
Search engines are not that smart when it comes to reading your NAP. You have to be VERY, VERY, VERY specific when it comes to listing your business.
As English Comedian Michael McIntyre once put it, “…so they (Americans) can’t work with pavement, so they’ve changed it into the sidewalk. They needed to know where they were going to be walking. I think there must have been a period of time where they ran with the word pavement, but they kept hitting by cars (sic),” Google needs to be told very clearly about your business details.
Let’s say you run an auto repair shop in Tennessee, and the address looks like this:
Garage77 Auto Works,
1503, Glory Road,
Assuming that you have the same address in your Google Places but replaced the word ‘Road’ in your address with ‘Rd’ on your Yelp listing, Google may think both are two different businesses.
For Google, even the use of ‘.’ in place of ‘-‘ in your phone number is entirely different information. Hence, maintaining consistency in all your listings is crucial.
For E.g., Take a look at this NAP details a Video production company – Indigo productions.
They maintain consistent NAP details across all platforms like GMB and ZoomInfo.
Businesses are prone to changes. You may need to shift to a new office or expand your business to new areas. When such things happen, make sure the changes reflect on your listings across all sites.
Having a spreadsheet with all your listings mentioned is an easy way to make changes. At times, websites tend to have a duplicate listing of your business. If you find any duplicate listing, avoid reporting it. Instead, contact the website owner and get the mistake fixed.
Consider using a tool like Moz Local Listing Score to check how accurate your listing appears across multiple sites.
Another mistake local businesses often make is having multiple phone numbers for a particular business location. This will confuse users and negatively affect the click-through rate (CTR).
3) Use Schema Markup
Local Schema Markups are codes meant for search engines to understand your business better. The use of Schema Markups will display results in the format of Snippets. Snippets contain rich data, including your opening hours, website, review, direction, phone number, etc.
For E.g., This schema markup tells the rating, number of votes and the time taken to make lasagna.
Use Google Structured Data Markup Helper for this task. Marking up the elements is easy. Start with entering your URL and click ‘Start Tagging.’
The helper will take you to your site, where you need to highlight the parts where your NAP is located. Once done, you need to generate the structured data code in JSON-D format since it is Google’s recommended format.
Once the code is generated, you can download it and test it using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Claim Your Listings
Verifying you as the owner of a business is a must when it comes to online business listings.
Let’s say that yours is a local business and you have been in the industry for a few years now. Your company might have been indexed in quite many directories even if you have not shared your NAP with directories.
Yes. That’s how it works.
When it comes to local businesses, your NAP data flows from one directory to another naturally. Start reaching out to the famous directories first and begin the claiming process.
Directories usually give you an option to review the existing NAP and make relevant changes. So make sure your NAP is correct and fill out all relevant details such as which category your business falls in, opening hours, etc.
Then Google your phone number and cross verify the results.
For E.g., When I Google +44 2072212217 it only shows “Hilton London Hyde Park” in all results.
Once everything is done and dusted, directories may contact you over the phone or email or send you a postcard with a PIN for verification.
Optimize Google My Business Page
You might have claimed your Google My Business (GMB) Listing. But have you optimized it yet? If not, you are missing out on a fortune.
To begin with, always fill out all details. Though Google says some fields are optional, it is advisable to fill out everything.
Tell Google if you have a parking space available. Tell it if a reservation is necessary to visit your business. Mention which category your business falls in. Use attributes. Tell Google about the amenities (free WiFi, pet-friendly, sea-facing room, etc.) you have. To put it in a nutshell, tell Google everything about your business except trade secrets.
Don’t even miss a thing, and be SPECIFIC. If yours is a restaurant that specializes in serving Central American Cuisine, tell the same to Google.
Not just ‘Restaurant.’ Not even ‘American Restaurant.’ Tell you run a Central American Restaurant. If you aren’t aware, Google has 2,395 local business types.
The more you optimize your GMB listing, the higher the traffic will be. Try to acquire user-generated content and reviews by interacting with your existing customers.
Keep NAP Details on Your Website up to date
For tasks such as Schema Markup, you need to keep the NAP info of your business up to date on your website.
Say that there is a discrepancy between your actual address and the NAP data on your website. Since directories tend to grab business data from sites for republishing on theirs, the chances of your wrong NAP getting republished are inevitable.
Imagine a situation wherein small-time directories start republishing your wrong NAP on their websites. In such a situation, you will be in a position to contact all those directories to get your NAP corrected.
Also, make sure that the NAP on your website is checked for grammar, format, clarity, etc. Do not shorten words such as Street and Road into St and Rd, respectively.
Always display NAP on your website’s footer or header. If yours is a local business, try to keep the NAP pop out.
Say that you are a roofing contractor offering emergency services. Display your contact number prominently on your site’s header, footer, near contact form, and wherever necessary.
Pay Attention to Citations
Mistakes in citations happen for a variety of reasons. You might have inherited the phone number of someone whose business is now defunct or inactive. Maybe you have changed your business phone number but failed to update the same on directory listings.
If those directories are leading players, the emerging ones may quickly pick up the wrong information and list them on their sites.
For E.g., Take a look at this citation from ebusinesspage.
Whatever the reason may be, if different citations have different versions of your NAP, search engines will get confused and end up recommending other similar businesses over you.
Unfinished citations also hurt your SERP performance. Always fill out all pieces of information in listings. This will give a complete picture of your picture to search engines.