NAP and Search Engine Optimization
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number in web design and outside directories. Search engines scan for location and contact information related to your business and factor it in for organic local search results. It’s critical for local SEO, geo-targeting and “near me” searches.
One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) for local SEO is how your website designer used NAP on your site and whether outside sources correlate with information throughout your web design. If your information isn’t there at all, you probably need a website redesign.
Where Your NAP Exists
You probably had your web designer place your name, address and phone number on your website’s contact page. For search engine optimization it should actually be on every page in specific locations. Later, we’ll tell you exactly where.
NAP data is called a citation when it occurs on directory sites. Search engines scour every corner of the web and compare on-site information to sources like the following:
- Google Business
- Angie’s List
- Your Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce listing
- Better Business Bureau listings
- Newspaper articles that mention your business
- Blog posts produced by or about you
- State business registrations
- Post office records
- Community bulletin boards
If your NAP isn’t consistent in all locations, it negatively affects your SEO.
Google My Business
What Google Business Is And Why You Need It
Every small business should set up their Google My Business. More than 74 percent of searches last year went through Google, and one out of every five was related to a business or location. When people search online, Google pulls your name, address, phone number and reviews to display local results.
Try this – Whatever industry you’re in, type that category into a Google search along with your location. For example, if you’re a landscaper, type in “Landscaping Tyler TX”
At the top of the page, you’ll see a few choices that are ads. Those businesses paid to be in that position.
Scroll down and you’ll see a Google map and the top three choices. Google prioritizes accurate NAP when it assigns those coveted three spots. The more places you consistently appear, the more Google trusts you’re who and where you say you are.
When you select and scroll down the sidebar, you’ll see other places your business appears online. This provides a starting point for finding NAP inconsistencies.
How Does NAP Impact Local SEO?
NAP plays a role in several of the most important factors for assigning local SEO rankings. In 2017 at least 46 percent of the factors, Google used for local SEO ranking included aspects related to NAP consistency.
There are more than a hundred ranking and negative ranking factors for local with some consistently being added dropped and tweaked. Last year the most important factor, the number one aspect for local search engine optimization is…
Your address proximity to the point of search. You can see how vital that makes consistent NAP.
- My Business Signals measured the keyword in your business title, what categories you serve and your proximity to the user and make up 19 percent of the data search engines use for local ranking.
- On-Page Signals relate directly to the presence or absence of NAP, examine keywords in titles and domain authority for 14 percent of your ranking.
- Citation signals aggregate NAP consistency and measure citation volume for 13 percent of local SEO.
If your business data is incorrect or inconsistent on your site, it impacts your local search ranking. When it’s wrong anywhere else on the world wide web, it hurts local SEO. Conversion rates, leads, and sales drop accordingly.
A huge part of your local ranking involves trust. Search engines measure on-page SEO and off-page SEO factors that impact SEO. If you want in the three pack, NAP data absolutely must be consistent in your web design and everywhere else.
What’s So Important About Local SEO?
Every industry has major players with a nationwide or global reach. If you sell sporting goods or life insurance, your page probably isn’t going to compete nationally with Academy or Geico. Where you can compete is with local searchers.
- When users conduct a local search, more than 70 percent of them visit a store within 10 miles of where they searched.
- 50 percent of local searchers shop within 24 hours.
- Nearby results don’t just cause searchers to go to the store. Twenty-eight percent of the time, they buy when they get there. That’s traffic you miss if you don’t rank locally.
- According to comScore, when that search happens on a mobile device, 78 percent of the time shoppers buy offline based on what they find.
Read that again. Seventy-eight percent of local mobile searches lead to an offline sale. NAP impacts whether searchers find you or your competitor when they search.
What Does Correct NAP Include for Web Design?
Your website redesign absolutely must have your company’s full name, complete address and phone number. It seems like common sense, but here’s how easy it is to introduce problems.
Within the community, people may refer to your company in a variety of ways. Let’s say you have a tree cutting service. Your full business name might be John’s Tree Cutting Service Inc., but you hear variations. Clients might refer to you in several ways.
John’s Tree Service
John’s Tree Removers
John’s Tree Cutters
John’s Tree Cutters Inc.
The difference seems small, but to search engines and online shoppers, those variations could represent three different entities. Always pick one way you will list your business name and be consistent every single time.
There’s even more potential for error when it comes to your address. On your site you may list your address as 1234 Azalea Road, 1234 Azalea Rd. or 1234 Azalea.
Whether you abbreviate or not makes no difference for search engine optimization, but whatever you choose, stick with it. When you enter your address in any other location, go back to your web design and double-check to make sure you’re using the same format.
The same rules apply for your phone number. If you list it (903)123-4567 on your website, don’t change to 903-123-4567 when you update your Tyler Chamber of Commerce listing.
Make sure anyone who manages business listings for you knows the importance of consistency. It’s much easier to get it right the first time than it is to fix mistakes once they’ve spread to every corner of the web.
Place NAP consistently in the header and footer of every page on your site and use that exact format on profiles and directory sites. List your web address the same way in every location as well.
Always carefully double-check spelling and number order to make sure nothing gets left out or transposed. Search engines care very much about the details when it comes to SEO.
How Local SEO and NAP Gets Messed Up
NAP is such a recurring problem for Tyler and East Texas businesses because many of them have experienced rapid growth over the last several years. Ten years ago if you had a website, most of the time that was enough for your online presence.
Businesses often move, change numbers or create new listings. In the past, you simply updated the information in the phone book and with the post office.
As time went by, you probably registered with directory sites as you heard about them. You may not even remember all the places you listed your address or phone number over the years. Sometimes businesses even change their name. Law firms add partners, real estate agents move brokers, sometimes businesses change their names just to simplify. Even a tiny change matters.
Some businesses have multiple locations and use a separate address for each. When you or your employee’s input information online, it creates inconsistencies that impact SEO.
There might be another company with a similar name or spelling. Someone at either location makes a mistake and search engines pick it up.
Owners or their representative’s complete information with data providers or local directories. Other business directories and data aggregators pick it up and spread it like a virus.
NAP, SEO, And Your Bottom Line
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you searched for a business and saw they had multiple addresses, several phone numbers or more than one listing, what would you think? At best, users feel confusion. Often, they think someone doesn’t have their act together.
NAP consistency is hard, but users lose confidence in a business that can’t get the basic details right. They feel like if your competitor shows more consistency, they might be more on top of other details as well.
Search engines reflect their feelings. When they find inconsistent information, they don’t know for sure which name, address or phone number is accurate. They can’t offer your information to users with confidence.
When you get it right, users click on the link to your site and if you have on-site factors that affect SEO, they stay to look around. Search engines reward you with a ranking bump, which brings even more traffic.
Only three businesses end up in the Google three-pack. NAP consistency improves search engine optimization for more traffic and more revenue.
Ensuring NAP Consistency in Web Design
At this point you might be worrying about how many incorrect citations could exist for your business. Removing incorrect citations, and duplicates is a lengthy process that takes time and patience.
There are a number of online tools to help you find your online listings. Start by locating citations that are incorrect and create a spreadsheet of the results. Then search for each NAP variation to see what comes up, again recording results.
The business data ecosystem has major players that spread information to everyone underneath them. Start with big data providers InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual. Then move to directory sites like Google+, Yelp, Bing and so on. Lower tiers include directories like CitySearch and Angie’s List.
Each site has its own removal process. When you get to external websites, you may have to email site owners directly and ask them to remove incorrect data. Mark changes on your spreadsheet and follow up to make sure your information is updated.
It takes time for changes to spread, and sometimes it feels like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.
If you’re planning a new website or website redesign, Spade Design can make sure your information is correct and formatted for both people and search engines. If your NAP has inconsistencies, we can help you track down mistakes so your local website ranking can improve. Speak with one of our experts to find out more.