Why NAP consistency is important for SEO

Why Your Local Listings Should be Accurate

When it comes to attracting online customers you want to start with an attractive website that is fast, secure, and optimized for search engines. However, that is only the foundation for a successful internet presence. Outside of your website, there is a whole network of third-party local listing sites and directories which provide information about your business.

These third-party directory sites are beneficial because they display your business information at no cost to you. However, this information may be incorrect or misleading, and some websites may not realize your business exists at all. In fact, the information on these sites can directly influence your business’ exposure in the search results! Do you know how your business is listed on the internet? To ensure that you are making the most out of these business listings, it is important that you practice NAP consistency and take control of your information.

The Importance of NAP Consistency

The acronym “NAP” stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number, which are the three most basic things about your business that should be correct. You can achieve “NAP consistency” by making sure that all references to your business across the internet are both accurate and consistent across all platforms. Additional business information - such as hours or a link to your website - are also important.

There are two main reasons why you should ensure that your business listings achieve NAP consistency - improving your customer experience, and improving your business’ presence in local searches.

Improve your customer experience

The information about your business should always be accurate so customers can contact you or find you. If you own a store that closes at 5 p.m. but your Yelp listing says that you close at 7 p.m., then you may have to defend yourself from unhappy customers who drove across town to find your doors locked.

Improve your performance in local search

Search engines like Google are constantly crawling the internet to obtain more information about your business and website. When your business listings are the same across the internet, it sends a relevancy signal to search engines. Google and other search engines use this data to place your business listing in “near me” searches and location-based queries.

How does NAP consistency affect local search?

Imagine this: you own an organic honey farm called “Bee Farms”, meanwhile, a competing business, “Honey Farms”, is located across town. You both have 20 local listings on various third-party publishers, such as Yelp, Yahoo!, MerchantCircle, and DexKnows. However, despite having the same number of local profiles, both businesses have a different level of NAP consistency:

  1. Bee Farms - 17 of your listings display your business name as “Bee Farms”, but your Yahoo! and MerchantCircle pages list you as “Bee’s Farm” and your DexKnows page calls you “Bee-Farms-LLC”.

  2. Honey Farms - All of their business’ local listings are correctly listed as “Honey Farms”.

A local honey connoisseur lives halfway between both businesses. They use the virtual assistant on their phone to ask “Where can I buy fresh honey?” Their phone responds to them: “Honey Farms sells fresh honey and is located 3 miles away.”

Why did this honey aficionado’s phone suggest Honey Farms? Because all 20 of Honey Farms’ profiles had the same information, Google’s found 20 relevant sources to grab information from. Meanwhile, there were three variations of “Bee Farms” throughout the internet; in Google’s eyes, they believe that “Bee Farms”, “Bee’s Farm”, and “Bee-Farms-LLC” are three different businesses.

As Google’s search algorithms continue to evolve, NAP consistency becomes more important than ever. The growing popularity of virtual assistants, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, have a big influence on shaping search engine behavior. Because many potential customers increasingly rely on voice search, you need to make sure that your internet visibility is as large - and accurate - as possible.

How to build a successful local profile

Now that you know why NAP consistency is so important, you can begin to take the necessary steps to take control of your business’ internet presence.

Name

Find one business name to use and stick with it.

Address

If your business has a brick-and-mortar store or a physical location where customers can find you, then you should make sure that your address is accurate on every platform and does not contain any “variations”. Some common variations can include:

  • Abbreviations (e.g. one listing of your address saying “123 Main Street” and another saying “123 Main St.”).

  • Unit numbers (e.g. “123 Main Street, Unit 20C” vs. “123 Main Street #20C”).

  • Directional variations and abbreviations. For example, “123 West Main Street” may be on the opposite side of town from “123 East Main Street”. Also, make sure the abbreviation (or lack thereof) is consistent (e.g. “W. Main Street” vs. “West Main Street”).

  • Different road names. For example, some major roadways have a name as well as a number designation. Your address may be known to locals as “Main Street” but might also be labeled “Route 9”.

Additionally, if you are a brick-and-mortar business with multiple locations, you should create a local profile for each location.

If you are a business that does not have a physical address for customers to visit, you can still maintain local listings without displaying your address. This is referred to as a “service area business”. When setting up your local profiles as a service area business, there are two important things to keep in mind:

  1. Do not list a PO Box or UPS store as your address. Google will not let you verify your Google My Business profile with either of these address types. You should use your home address and hide your address.

  2. Make sure to specify your service area. This helps you appear in listings for those areas, although Google does prioritize listings with a physical address that customers can access.

Phone Number

Make sure that you are using one phone number for every platform. Sometimes, businesses may utilize multiple phone numbers to track the success of their various marketing campaigns. While this is an easy way to find out how many customers converted from a paid search campaign or from an ad in the local newspaper, this confuses search engine crawlers and can negatively affect your business’ search presence. If you want to use a tracking number, choose a service that uses a code that dynamically swaps out your phone number for targeted users.

How to ensure you have NAP consistency

You now know the importance of NAP consistency as well as the building blocks for building a successful local profile. What comes next? There are additional steps that you can take to make the most out of your business’ online presence.

Make sure you have business listings on all sites.

By now, you probably know about a handful of third-party local listing publishers - Google, Yelp, Yahoo!, TripAdvisor, maybe even YellowPages and Manta. However, there are many other sites that you probably had no idea even existed (Opendi? Tupalo?) Even though you may never have visited some of these directory sites, Google knows that they exist - and they trust the information on those sites.

It is important that your business is listed, accurately, on as many directory sites as possible. While most of your customer base is likely not finding you through lesser-known directory sites, it is a good way to build up your business’ authority in the eyes of search engines.

Lock down your local listings

Just like the Bee Farms example from earlier, you may notice that some (or many!) directory sites have incorrect information. Directory sites scrape the internet for business information and gather business details from sources like real estate transactions, tax records, or information that they scrub from other websites. With a solid local listing management plan, you can become the gatekeeper of your information, ensuring that your directory data is always up to date.

Include Enhanced Content to your listings

Many third-party directories give business owners the option to add enhanced content and attributes to your listings. These attributes may sometimes include built-in structured schema that search engines use to build their local search results. Often referred to as “rich listings”, enhanced content gives consumers more information about a business.

Some examples of enhanced content lists include listing your hours, a description of your business, staff member bios, events, specials, product lists, and a description of your services. While each publisher has different limitations on what types of enhanced content they include, it is a good idea to fill out all of your local profiles with as much information as possible.

Use a local listing solution

Once you figure out the importance of NAP consistency and how to ensure that your local listings are accurate, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. It can take some time to reach out to each individual publisher to correct any misleading information or create a new profile. You may not even be aware of the many online directories from which you can list your business.

Luckily, there are solutions that can do the dirty work for you. You can see how your business appears online and find out what’s missing from your listings on important directory sites. SpaceCraft’s local listing tool harnesses the content on over 70 local listing partners such as Google My Business Yelp, Bing, YellowPages and more. This solution ensures that all of your information - from your address, phone number, or business hours - are up-to-date and consistent across every local directory. In addition, if you need to make a change, such as updating your phone number or operating hours, you can do so right from your SpaceCraft website dashboard, click “Publish Profile” to update your information across the internet.

Want to learn more? Learn more about our local business solutions today!