If you have a business that is heavily reliant on local SEO, you need to create NAP. It’s a relevant Google factor that will help you get discovered by the search engine. In other words, updating your NAP is one of the best ways to get more traffic from local results.
In this article, we’ll explain the term and how it affects local SEO efforts. After that, we’ll share some of the best practices.
What is NAP in SEO?
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, and Phone, representing the information displayed on various websites and directories. This data allows Google to determine your business’s location, name, and phone number. Search engines use this information to verify a company’s authenticity. It’s essential to maintain consistency in your NAP across different directories and sites. Inconsistencies in this data may lead Google to view it as confusing, potentially interpreting it as a sign of a disreputable organization.
How does NAP consistency affect local SEO?
Every legitimate business should have a physical address and phone. Even when talking about digital companies, like web shops, you still need to have an address so you can pay taxes. Lacking any of this data can downgrade your pages in Google.
Keep in mind that just having NAP on your site isn’t enough. In the end, you can manipulate the data on your platform. It’s much more important to have the same information in various places across the web. This is called having NAP consistency.
To enhance the understanding of NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency’s role in local SEO, consider this analogy: Just as normal links direct to a unique page via a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), confirming that Site A links to Site B, NAP consistency serves a similar purpose for a Google My Business profile. It acts as a distinctive identifier for a specific company. This precision is crucial because:
- Multiple companies might share the same name.
- Different businesses could have identical addresses.
- The same phone number might be used by various companies, or it may have been reassigned from one organization to another over time.
When all three NAP elements – name, address, and phone number – are consistent and align perfectly, the likelihood that they point to a specific, unique company approaches 100%. Therefore, NAP consistency plays a pivotal role in verifying the identity of a company when it’s referenced by other resources.
Name, address, and phone aren’t necessarily a main ranking factor. In other words, by having consistent NAP, you won’t suddenly reach top spots in Google like when ranking web pages with high-quality links and perfect in-depth content.
You’ll likely have to focus on the quantity and quality of website reviews to reach the top spots. Speaking of which, always remember that SEO and local SEO prioritize different metrics for ranking pages.
7 Best practices for creating and updating NAP
Here are 7 things you need to do to optimize NAP properly:
1. Start with an audit
If you’ve had a company for a while, there’s a good chance that you’ve been present in numerous directories. Some of them aren’t regularly updated so they might’ve kept your old address or phone number. The others might’ve simply made mistakes when adding you.
Whatever the case, you must check if all this data is in order. You can use website audit tools to find all mentions online. Once you do, create a spreadsheet and copy and paste everything that was written on these pages.
2. Check the info
There are several reasons why local businesses suffer from NAP inconsistency:
- They might’ve used the wrong data in the first place.
- They haven’t updated information after a significant change.
- Using a different physical address for their store and registered company headquarters.
- Using different phones for better tracking.
The most common issue is not updating info after a major change. For example, if you alter your business address (which happens all the time). If that is the case, you should go back to the previously created sheet and find all websites that still use your old data.
In some cases, these inconsistencies might spiral out of control, where several sites have mentioned a bad NAP. This is a big problem for Google and its users, as they don’t know which information to trust. As you can presume, this can harm your local search rankings.
Here are a few ways to address the problem:
- Use SEO tools that specialize in local business listings.
- Claim your local listing and perform verification.
- Contact third-party website owners and ask them to update the information.
Making these changes is relatively easy if you’re careful.
3. Make website updates
Whenever you make any changes to your company data, make sure to update the info as soon as possible. Not having proper NAP can be disastrous for Google and other search engines but also for potential customers who want to reach you. On top of that, it’s simply unprofessional.
There are different ways you can use NAP on your site:
- Use them in the header and footer so they appear on all pages.
- Make sure to add them to the contact page.
- You can also add them to important service and product pages.
You always have the option of placing the data in the website code. You might also decide to put it in metadata, but this usually causes an adverse effect.
Like all other data on-site, NAP should be accessible to crawlers. Of course, this pertains to all mentions on the site. The more you have them, the easier it is for Google to determine the correct information. Just make sure you don’t use NAP on images, as robots won’t be able to decipher them correctly.
4. Use Schema markup
Schema markup is an invaluable tool for any website. It’s a type of code that transforms various elements on your site so that search engines can decipher them. You can use Structure Data Markup Helper made by Google to create it. This simple step can provide massive SEO benefits to small local companies.
Schema allows you to be featured with rich snippets. When someone types in your company’s name, it will be showcased at the top of the search engine results pages in a visually-appealing manner. Not only that, but Schema markup allows search engines to better understand your content and, most notably, NAP.
5. Create Google My Business
Creating Google My Business is the first step in being featured for local results. Once you make a profile, the search engine can verify your business. In a nutshell, it’s a process of authenticating a private entity on the web.
During the profile creation, you will be asked to provide NAP and other vital data. Whenever you change some of the info, you should also update it within Google My Business. Make sure to add all the things that are asked of you. There’s even a dashboard that shows the profile completion.
After verification, your NAP info will be properly showcased in the search engine with a rich snippet (if we presume you have a Schema markup).
6. Check the data within directories
When you first create a website, you should add your data to all major local directories. This can have a positive impact on your search engine optimization efforts while simultaneously authenticating the business.
Aside from SEO benefits, a reputable business listing can also enhance your brand awareness and provide more leads. Keep in mind that some platforms are rather useless, so make sure to focus on the biggest ones.
Similar to Google My Business, company data should also be updated within the major directory listings whenever you make a change. This could be a major hassle, especially if you added the company profile to numerous websites. Nevertheless, it’s something you need to do to maintain NAP consistency.
Ideally, you should create a spreadsheet with all these directories, so you can quickly make alterations when needed.
7. Use the same NAP across the board
Aside from having the same NAP data on different sites, you also have to use the same NAP for multiple location companies. As previously mentioned, one of the common mistakes is using several office or store addresses, thus confusing the search engines.
If you have several outlets or offices, here are some of the best practices to use:
- You can put all company locations on the same page.
- You can associate the same location with several business numbers.
- If you have several locations, you can put separate phone numbers for each one of them. However, make sure that the same combination of address and phone are shown on the site, directories, and Google My Business.
- Avoid variations, even if it seems like a good idea. Don’t use any shady practices or try to hide your identity, as Google will figure you out sooner than later.
- No need to update your data for closed stores and offices. Instead, it’s much better to delete them altogether.
As long as you follow these simple tricks, you can gain lots of visibility within the search engines.
MiroMind provides top-level local SEO services. If you’re struggling with NAP consistency and local visibility, make sure to contact us today!