NAP Consistency: What is it and why is it good for SEO?

NAP stands for Name, Address, & Phone. You will want to keep all 3 consistent across all of your assets online for an SEO boost.

Introduction

NAP Consistency

NAP Consistency mainly refers to how accurate the location-based data like address, name, and phone number is across all the business’s listings. We are referring to the listings on social media profiles, local directories, and websites. 

It is a factor that many search engines will consider and, according to experts, is a ranking factor for anyone who wants to do local SEO. Furthermore, the homepage URL is one of the most essential elements which should be kept consistent across all listings.

Many experts advise that businesses should see NAP consistency as the foundation of their local search optimization strategy. If anything, it is marketing at the most basic level for any serious business. 

It’s the minimum requirement to ensure that your business gets found online. If your business does not have any citations or they aren’t consistent across all the listed places, then this is the first place to start.

Understanding Local Business Citations

One of the first things you need to understand is that any mention of a business’s contact information and name on the internet is considered a local citation. According to many experts, Citation Signals are a major ranking factor, as mentioned above. 

The sites will normally include chamber of commerce mentions, directories, business association pages, and social media, all of which list information regarding local businesses. 

Citations don’t have to link back to the official website or send a positive signal to search engines about your business. However, what is important is consistent data across the business listing, which tells Bing and Google that your business is real.

It would help if you start by listing your business with major players like Bing Places, Google My Business (GMB), and Apple Maps Connect. Once there is consistency across these listings, you can start building citations on your local directories and social media pages which will also help with your digital marketing efforts.

Why Is NAP Consistency Important for Local SEO?

Google’s main focus is on the user, and pleasing the user is one of their primary missions. In other words, Google is trying to provide the most useful and relevant information to people searching. 

The algorithm sorts through all the information online but finds the most relevant types based on several dozen ranking signals. However, some ranking signals are more important than others.

It goes without saying that many factors contribute to ranking a website on the top of search engine results. In fact, in some industries, there is very little difference in ranking factors that rank pages on page one compared to page two and onwards. 

A single factor depending on the industry can make a drastic difference to local search rankings. However, it has been established that citations are a very important factor for local business results since it establishes that a business is legitimate.

Local business citations with inconsistencies can be more of a liability than an asset, especially when it comes to ranking a business or even running a social media campaign for like a Facebook business page. 

Businesses with consistent phone numbers, addresses, and name data are shown to rank higher in search engine results. By consistent, we mean having the same and right information across all websites.

The same concept can be used for businesses that may be looking for business information. For instance, if you are trying to contact a business and have run into online listings that are inconsistent with an old phone number or have multiple old addresses listed, that is going to be a bad experience for you. 

You may assume that the company does not care about their image enough to update their contact information, which means they can’t be trusted. 73% of users end up losing trust in a business if the data in their listing is incorrect.

Businesses that care about their image and are legit tend to ensure that their online presence is consistent and accurate right down to their email address.

How Consistent Does NAP Need To Be For Local Businesses?

From what we said above, you might assume that your NAP citation should be a mirror image across every listing, with the same character, space, and dash choice. However, according to a Google representative, your phone number formatting, for instance, does not have to be exact across all citations. 

Google is smart enough to normalize local citation data with slight variations in common formats and abbreviations, including suite numbers. Many experts also say that Suite numbers aren’t as important for consistency, but you should add them to help potential customers find you. Also, other search engines may probably not be as intelligent as the major ones so its good practice to be consistent here too.

Over the past few years, many studies regarding NAP consistency have shown that maintaining a consistent business name, telephone number, URL, and address in an online listing can do a great deal of good for your rankings. 

However, you shouldn’t have to stress too much over it. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and work accordingly; if anything it’s not hard to see that consistency is important.

It is important to stress that your search rankings aren’t going to be impacted if one of your citations says “avenue” while the others say “Ave” instead, or maybe the suite number is missing on some or formatted differently.

 If you are still having issues with search ranking after your search listings across social media and other core listing agencies are updated or consistent. You need to consider other factors like your site’s accessibility, the content you publish, and the website’s backlink profile also playing a part in local search results.

As a business owner (presumably), you want to watch out for “snake oil” salesmen trying to sell you SEO, promising to fix all your problems, with thousands of low-quality links and scare tactics. In addition, you need to make sure that all your citations are correct; if you do change something like maybe your address because you moved, make sure to update all your citations so that potential customers can find you.

Common Local Citation Issues Affecting Search Engines’ Ranking Algorithms

We’ve already stressed the importance of consistency across all local citations, which is all well and good, but there are a few common issues you may encounter. 

While it seems that managing your citations should be easy, there are a couple of ways that local business listings can end up becoming inconsistent, impacting your search visibility.

Incorrect Citation Information

Generally, this happens when a business may change their phone number or their address but fail to update it across the entirety of their listings. The same goes for inheriting another business’s phone number or sending the wrong information via data aggregators. If your local citations have wrong information or information that’s incomplete like a missing digit in your phone number, you’re sending search engines mixed signals leading to digital confusion and thus ranking lower in SERPs.

Multiple Listings For The Same Business In The Same Directory

Now, this is a lot more common than many business owners may realize. Generally, what happens is the business may hire a Search Engine Optimization specialist who starts adding listings for the business without first checking if those listings exist already. The duplicate listings mean that search engines are not sure which to rank. Also, these listings may confuse customers, who may not be sure which listing to review. When scaled across multiple platforms and factoring in incorrect information, this can lead to major issues.

Unfinished or Unclaimed Citations

Both of these can be detrimental to your local SEO rankings. To ensure that Bing and Google have the most accurate and updated data to work with, you need to claim your business citations and then complete every field.

We strongly advise that you check and double-check everything to ensure that it is correct before submitting.

Make Sure To use Local Schema Markup

The biggest advantage of using local schema markup to your page is that it gives Google an opportunity to evaluate your NAP listing for search engine ranking. It also then appears as a rich snippet which may not be the case with directory listings. It does not have to be highly technical, use Google Structured Data Markup Helper to ensure that you follow the right coding structure for your business’s data.

Once the structured data code is generated, ensure it is checked for validity by using the Structured Data Testing Tool. If there are errors, those will surface, and you will need to fill in those missing properties. Sometimes it may ask for more information.

The Effect of Call Tracking On NAP Consistency

Broadly speaking, call tracking does not and will not affect your NAP consistency. However, you need to use the right software and set up tracking correctly.

A popular method used is Dynamic Number Insertion, which is embedded into the website. That way, each visitor to your website sees a unique phone number that is directly tied to their respective session data, including which websites referred them to your page.

Using DNI with website pools on a website that you own isn’t going to affect NAP because the search engine’s bot can and will always be able to see the mainline number on the website. However, you would want to avoid using multiple unique call tracking numbers for every listing and directory apart from Google My Business.

Can Call Tracking Corrupt A GMB Listing?

It is a prevalent misconception, which may come across as being correct because it sounds logical. Using a call tracking number on a GMB listing isn’t going to corrupt your NAP consistency. 

What you will want to do is to go into your Google My Business profile listing, update your contact information with your call tracking number as the primary number, and then add the business’s mainline as an additional number.

Adding your main business number, i.e., the ones to which all your calls are forward, ensure that it stays connected with your GMB and other listings.

Bonus Tip and Final Word

Even if you go ahead and verify the GMB page, then check for NAP consistency on all your business’s listings, update social media profile and update your website, it is important to track the success of your marketing activities. 

By taking this approach, you get a much broader and more detailed look at how well your website is performing and identify issues that can be addressed to further optimize your local business’s online presence.

We talked about this earlier, but it is worth mentioning that Google wants to show those searching for the most relevant results for every query. 

NAP consistency helps you rank better and higher in Google Maps, which then lets people find your business and convert.

The more consistently accurate your NAP listing is, the higher the odds that search engines will see your business as a legitimate operation and rank your listing higher. That’s why for a local business website, NAP consistency is one of the most important fundamental steps worth taking before doing anything else. What’s more, is that it does not cost any money to do it if you decide to do it yourself.

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