According to the Moz 2018 local search ranking factors study, NAP consistency is really important for local SEO. Building local citations with consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data on your Google My Business (GMB) profile and listed online addresses can affect your search rankings.
First, Google decides where to rank your business by dragging out NAP data from your GMB profile. Thereafter, it compares your NAP data from your GMB account with the NAP listed on different online directories, your social media, and website.
Having a consistent NAP also makes it easier for potential customers to find accurate information about your business. Inconsistent NAP data can make users frustrated and lose potential leads. So, optimizing for NAP presence can help you validate your business across a wide range of sources and rank well in local search results.
The basics of NAP consistency
NAP consistency relates to how accurate and up-to-date your business information is on different listings, your website, social media, and other resources.
Consider that search engines take into account small things. It’s not enough to show the basic information about your business, but also focus on spelling and formatting of your NAP data. Even though NAP doesn’t include your website’s URL, ensure that it’s also listed accurately across multiple sources. Try to focus not only on the NAP consistency but all the information listed about your business.
Once you have consistent NAP information, you’re more likely to appear in the Local Pack at the top of a search. Getting featured in the Local Pack can result in more clicks on the results pages to satisfy a user’s search intent.
If search engines find inaccurate information about your business, they won’t be able to tell users who you are and where you’re located. According to this report by Bright Local, 80% of customers don’t trust local businesses if they find inconsistent business names or contact details online. Consequently, it will hurt your local rankings, and people will stop trusting your business.
1. Map out the details of your business
If you manage one or multiple business locations, it’s time to set up your fixed business name, address and phone number details. Before you start optimization, you can take into consideration the following things:
- As you know Google loves keyword-rich business names, and it’s one of the most significant ranking factors. You can add any location or service keywords to your Google My Business name that will help your local rankings. For multiple business locations, you can include locations within the name to prove more relevance for search engines for each target location.
- Decide for yourself whether you’re going to write the full word or the abbreviation of your address. Your officially registered address should be consistent and add value anywhere on the web.
- Search engines understand phone number area codes when serving local results. Choose the way you want to write your phone number and stick to it every time you mention your number across the web.
To manage your NAP consistency, you need to track your local rankings regularly as it can affect your local rankings. Regular monitoring will help you reveal any issues that can hurt your rankings. For example, you can try the Google Rank Checker by SE Ranking to monitor local rankings in real-time.
2. Proofread your NAP data
Once you decide your business’s official name, address, and phone number, you need to fill out some paperwork before submitting them to the right institutions. Double-check how your NAP information is initially recorded.
When you change or move your business to a new office, update your business information. You can create the spreadsheet and control where else you should update the information.
Avoid reporting duplicate locations for your business. Different NAP variations make people and search engines frustrated and confused as they have no idea which listing to rely on. To check out duplicate listings, you can use Moz Check Listing.
Once you find any duplicates, you need to delete them by contacting website owners and claiming your business listing. Try to avoid different alternatives in your NAP profile. Don’t use multiple phone numbers for a specific business location. For example, Rosen Injury Lawyers uses the same business name on Google and a new phone number for a particular business location.
3. Update your NAP info on your website
Your website is the main face of your business to both people and search engines that helps them get all the details right. Once you’ve made some changes to your NAP information or you’ve found some inconsistencies, your website is the first place to update it.
Your listing data should be the same as your website to make sure that everything is up-to-date and compliant with correct spelling, grammar, and formatting. You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!
It would be better if you display your business name, address, and phone numbers in specific areas, such as your site’s header and footer so that everyone can see them on all the pages of your website. As you know that search engines index web pages, not websites, so ensure that your NAP data is correct on all web pages to show up. Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C provides a great example by displaying the NAP information in its header and footer.
Your text needs to be human-readable and indexable by search engine crawlers. Don’t add your information to images or photos as search engines can’t index the NAP.
4. Optimize your Google My Business page
A lot of potential customers will search for your business using Google. So, if you want Google to trust your NAP information, it’s time to update your Google My Business page. Make sure that the company name, address, and phone number match the information on your website, and in your paperwork.
Once you notice some inconsistencies, just update it. After Google verifies your company, your accurate NAP data will appear in Google’s Local Pack when customers search for your business.
You can track your optimization progress on the Google My Business dashboard. To reach 100% optimization, you should add many other things to your GMB page. You can also monitor your profile with a unique UTM URL and analyze the impact of your optimization steps in Google Analytics.
5. Use local Schema Markup for your business
Adding local schema markup to your page allows Google to evaluate your NAP information and appear in rich snippets. You don’t need to be too technical, use Google Structured Data Markup Helper to add your structured data for your company.
Once you’re done generating your structured data code, you can check it for validity by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. It will show all errors for missing required properties and give some recommendations to add more information to your structured data.
6. Audit and update your business directories and listings
One of the most significant steps to increase your local SEO is to build up local citations across trustworthy online directories. If your company is listed in some business directories, you should check out how consistent your NAP is with the information on your website. Pay attention to your full company’s name, address, phone number, and URL.
Ensure that your NAP information matches your website, your Google My Business page, and your social profiles.
7. Keep track of social media
Social media can have a significant impact on your search results. If you have profiles across different social media platforms, check out all of those profiles you have to make sure that your NAP matches the information on your website. For those who are just starting out, it’s never too late to create social media profiles and provide consistent NAP information.
8. Manage NAP for multi-location businesses
For businesses who manage multiple locations, having a clear and consistent NAP can be tricky. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t pay a lot of attention to NAP consistency for a multi-location business that can result in missing out on new clients.
To increase your NAP details for multiple locations, don’t do things like:
- Numerous phone numbers for one business location. Make sure to include a consistent and local phone number for each specific location through your GMB listing, landing page, social profiles, and online directories.
- Name and address variations and changes. Once you change your business name, address or have name or address variations, you should immediately update your NAP info. Otherwise, it can cause inaccuracy and duplication.
- Less is better. Don’t build a lot of citations for your business. It is really hard to manage too many citations in the context of multiple inconsistency issues. You are better off managing the most popular online directories with real traffic and consistent NAP than having a lot of low-quality citations that are hard to update.
- Closed and moved locations. If you have moved to a new location or closed your store, just leave it and don’t update your NAP information.
- Different URL variations. Having duplicate web addresses can adversely impact your business. Just choose one URL and stick to it everywhere.
Once you identify NAP inconsistencies, manually analyze by using Google-Fu to find out citations that Google considers authoritative. For a business with multiple locations, I recommend tools like Moz Local or BrightLocal to manage NAP consistency problems.
Bonus tip: Track local SEO success
Even if you verify your GMB page, update your website, check out the NAP consistency on all of your business listings and social media profiles, tracking the success of marketing activities is vital for any local business.
For this purpose, check out Finteza to get advanced analytics. You will be able to get the truest picture of your local search performance, reveal a transparent breakdown of your traffic and set conversion goals based on visited local pages or events.
Google intends to show search results that are perfect solutions for your search query. NAP consistency will help you rank better in Google Maps, let people find your business, and finally choose your business to meet their needs.
The more accurate and consistent the NAP Google finds, the more chances it will consider your business as legitimate and rank high for local searches. So, take full advantage of the opportunities staring you in the face and get your NAP profile right.
Guest author: Irina Weber is a blogger and marketing manager of SE Ranking. She creates and develops new marketing campaigns, writes articles about online marketing, social media, conversion optimization on popular websites like Jeff Bullas, WordTracker, Onblastblog and other authoritative websites. If you have any questions, you can reach her on Twitter.