Why consistent NAP citations are the key to mastering Local SEO
What is NAP?
NAP is an acronym that is commonly used in SEO, referring to the Name, Address and Phone number of your business. More specifically, the NAP acronym is used in reference to the listing of these details across the internet. This includes your own website, as well as any other online listings of your business, such as local directories or social platforms.
Why is NAP so Important for Local SEO?
The importance of your NAP citations lies in the consistency (and accuracy) of which they are listed. By listing your company’s name, address and phone number consistently across various different online sources, you are sending a number of positive signals to Google and other search engines.
Firstly, this will provide evidence that you are a legitimate, real business and allow the search engines to trust your website. It is believed that search engines cross reference your NAP details across the web in order to assess the trustworthiness of your company. The more NAP citations you have (particularly on high authority websites), the more confidence search engines will have in your website.
Another positive signal of NAP citations is in relation to geo-specific searches. If someone searches for a locksmith in Sunderland, search engines will be more likely to rank a website that has an Edinburgh address consistently listed across the web. Phone number is important here too – you may have an Edinburgh address listed, but if your phone number is an 0141, this may send mixed signals to the search engines and potentially harm your ranking. By having a correct 0131 phone number you are providing the correct information that search engines are looking for in relation to Edinburgh related searches.
The accuracy and consistency of your NAP citations is also vitally important. You’ll want to make sure your details are listed exactly the same across all online citations. If you have even the slightest of variations in your NAP citations this will send mixed signals to the search engines and they will doubt the trustworthiness of your website. A common problem that many businesses encounter is when they change address or phone number. If you only change the information on your own website, this will then be inconsistent with all the other citations you have created. Instead, you would need to make sure to update ALL listings of your NAP in order to avoid any potential negative effects to your rankings.
A final factor to consider that flows through all of the above is User Experience. If the content of your website is not user-friendly or your page speed is too slow, this will lead to a poor user experience and likely lead to a loss of potential customers. The same can be said for NAP citations – if users can’t find the information about your business they need, it won’t take them long to start looking at a competitor that provides the correct information. If you do have your information well documented but the address or phone number isn’t in the location that the user is searching for, again this can cause the user to have doubts and look elsewhere.
On top of this, we know that user experience plays an increasingly significant role in the algorithms of Google and other search engines, which therefore results in a double blow for those without accurate, consistent NAP citations. Not only are users turning away from your website in favour of competitors, the poor user experience will send negative signals to the search engines, resulting in worse rankings for your website.
How to Get Your NAP Citations Right?
Now that we have established the importance of NAP citations for Local SEO, we now need to understand the best way of implementing them, and how to ensure all your citations are accurate.
The first place to start is your own website. The name of your company should be found in many places across your website, and meta data should be utilised to re-emphasise the significance of this. You should have a contact page which clearly and accurately lists your company name, address and phone number. These details should then be found again in the footer and/or header of each page on your website.
Next step is to look at all the online listings of your company details outside of your website. It’s important for your SEO to build up a number of listings and profiles for your company on local directories and social platforms, in order to gain links back to your website. If you’re looking for a place to start with this, check out our guide to the top 5 local directories for SEO.
Once you have created these company listings, you need to ensure that you are providing the correct name, address and phone number on each one. This means that any abbreviations must be avoided, and the address must be presented in the same format each time – for example, ‘George St.’ and ‘George Street’ could be interpreted differently by search engines.
A common mistake to look out for is when a company changes their name, address or phone number, but does not bother to update all the citations they have created. To avoid this, it is best to keep a spreadsheet with the login details for all the accounts you create, which will make it easier for you to work through and make the required adjustments. You can also use a Google search to find any other source of incorrect information – for example if you’ve changed address, you can search: company name “old address”. This will then show you all the websites that have incorrect information that needs to be changed.
Google My Business
A key area that can’t be overlooked when trying to master your Local SEO is Google My Business. Along with your own website, your Google My Business page is the most important place to have your NAP listed accurately. Anyone who is searching for your company will come across your Google My Business, which provides a great opportunity for you to present your correct information to them. Additionally, Google will value this page extremely highly, so it is critical to have your NAP listed there accurately.
So now that you know how to use your NAP citations to boost your Local SEO, it’s time to get started. Start with your own website and follow this guide to make sure you cover every step along the way towards boosting your Local SEO performance!