The Power of NAP: Consistency for Local SEOJenny Pearse | May 21st 2015
What is NAP?
Sadly we’re not talking about the soft pillows, recharge-your-batteries type of nap. In the SEO world NAP simply stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. But now you know what it stands for, you may be asking yourself: why it is so important?
It’s all about consistency
Consistency is the golden ticket for businesses wanting to rank well in local organic search results. It’s important that the company name, business address and phone number you make available on your website are mirrored correctly across the internet. We’re talking about your details on local directories, social media websites, blogs, forums and other profiles. When we talk about directories, we mean reputable ones such as Yelp and Yell – not the spammy websites you’d add to a disavow file and hound webmasters about for months despite knowing that they’ll still refuse to remove your link unless you pay up. You should avoid these type of directories at all costs!
Have you ever moved office or changed your company name or details? Similar to moving house, you need to redirect your post and let every online Tom, Dick and Harry know where you’ve moved to. The last thing you want is potential customers visiting the wrong office or calling an incorrect number. It may sound like a mundane task but just think of the bigger picture – negative comments or even lost business.
According to Moz, false business location and mismatched NAP are the first and third biggest negative ranking factors for local search.
Image Source: Moz
Big players like Google and Bing use citation links, which are mentions of NAP on other websites, to determine the online authority of your business. They take NAP into consideration when showing results for geo-targeted searches, which again only highlights their importance further. If you have inaccurate listings, you will confuse search engines such as Google and Bing. We all know it’s probably best not to frustrate them.
On your marks, get set, go!
So now you know the importance of NAP, the next step is to update your citations. Unfortunately creating new listings just doesn’t cut it. If anything you’re just going to baffle search engines even more – a big no-no. Best practice is to update or claim any current listings that are associated with your business.
We have complied a list of 10 authoritative UK directory websites to get you started.
In addition to the above, in April, Moz updated its handy local SEO tool to include UK businesses postcodes. This is another useful way of collating those rogue listings. Just enter your business name and postcode, and information from Google and other local search sites is returned. From here you can discover any inconsistent NAP information or incomplete and duplicated listings.
Who should consider Local SEO?
Although we have mentioned NAP as a local search ranking factor, it’s also beneficial for searches that don’t include a city name. For example, if I search for “plumber” in incognito mode, Google shows me results in the Manchester area (as that’s where I’m located). Magic. So whether you’re a local business or not, it’s still beneficial to ensure contact information on your website is consistent across the internet.
NAP Importance in Local SEO
Since Google’s local algorithm, Pigeon, took flight last year, amongst a whole list of changes it was noted that local directories got a boost in the search results.
“It looks like Yelp and other local directory-style sites are benefitting with higher visibility after the Pigeon update, at least in some verticals. And that seems logical since, as Google said, this update ties local results more closely to standard web ranking signals.”
Source: SEM Rush
As you can see from the above graphs, since Pigeon began rolling out in July 2014, there has been a noticeable increase in organic traffic to directory websites.
Pigeon is the biggest local search update that Google has released, so any updates are a pretty big deal!
Ultimately all local SEO begins with NAP. Yes, that’s really how important it is. It may be a long-winded and boring task but it’s definitely an essential one. If you’ve ever asked yourself “How can I rank better on Google Maps?” consistent NAP is just one effective way of ranking your business locally. We would recommend tidying up any outdated or incorrect citations before attempting to tackle any of the other ranking factors associated with local search, such as:
- setting up a Google My Business page;
- acquiring genuine local reviews from customers;
- optimising landing pages with local on-page SEO;
- local link building; or
- optimising search engine snippets.
“The Power of NAP” is the first in a series of local search blogs, so watch this space.