Why NAP Consistency Is Important & What To Do About It

The world of SEO is an ever-changing world, and you need to be able to roll with the punches if you’re going to get the results you want. There are special challenges that come with local SEO campaigns, and small business owners need to be aware of them to make sure they’re hiring SEO specialists who can handle these challenges. One of the first things that needs to be brought up in any local SEO campaign is the importance of NAP.

What Does NAP Stand for and How Does it Affect Local SEO?

NAP stands for “Name, Address, & Phone Number.” Needless to say, these are three crucial pieces of information for any small business. However, it is extremely important for online rankings to make sure these three pieces of information are an exact match wherever you go online. If Yelp has one address and phone number combination, and Angie’s List another, and their Facebook page yet a third, that’s going to cause some serious problems and possibly even a penalty from Google.

This is what is called “NAP consistency,” and it had better be part of any local SEO plan!

What Is NAP Consistency?

NAP consistency is making sure the business name, address, and phone number are consistent everywhere online. This includes review websites, business directories, Google Maps – everywhere. This is extremely important for several reasons. When SEO experts say making sure this information matches matters, this means exact match. Even small things like “#215” vs. “No. 215” or “Room 215” can all count as different addresses and result in a penalty. The same format needs to be used across all the review sites and directories out there.

How Google Determines Local Rankings

Google uses a variety of factors when determining local rankings with some major ones including the number of (and quality of) reviews, the number of reviews from different websites, as well as trust. If they’re going to make a local recommendation, they want to make sure they’re sending visitors to the right place. A business that has three or four different addresses in the same area doesn’t look credible at all. In fact, that looks really shady.

Because of that, Google is very clear on how they view NAP. Businesses that have a consistent NAP are seen as being credible and trustworthy while those with differing information are seen as less reliable and less credible. Google is very likely to adjust local rankings accordingly.

How to Find NAP Inconsistencies

Knowing NAP inconsistencies can hurt a website’s online rankings is one thing, but doing something about it is another. The good news is that there are tools that can help with the first important step: locating those inconsistencies. Just a short list includes Bright Local, Moz Local, and Yext.

These are tools that can scour the net for listings of a small business across not only the most popular platforms like Google and Facebook but across many specialty or lesser known directories, as well. Using these tools is a great way to not only find potential NAP issues, but they can also help with a variety of other local SEO factors.

How to Fix Your NAP Inconsistencies

There are four major actionable steps that can be taken in order to tackle any NAP inconsistencies. The first step is to make sure you set up your Google My Business listing correctly. This is actually pretty simple.

Start by going to https://www.google.com/business

Create an account & verify your business. Make sure to spend some time on the listing to make it look good and have the standard look you want to use across all sites for your address and other information. Once the information is put in you’ll be asked to choose a way to verify. Choose the one that suits you and you’re set to go.

  1. Once this account is set up and verified, you will want to then use the tools mentioned earlier to find any citations across the web that are incorrect. Using all three during a trial run is a good idea to see which fit your needs the most, but even on a budget any one of these will provide excellent options.
    Bright Local – https://www.brightlocal.com/
    Moz Local – https://moz.com/products/local
    Yext – https://www.yext.com/
  2. Once the incorrect citations are found, they can be easily corrected. This can take some time based on the response rates of the sites or listings that have bad information, but it’s a start.
    Part of this step is going to be figuring out what the process is. In some cases you will be able to directly edit the entry, meaning it’s on you to do the work right there. Manual corrections can take a lot of time, especially if there are a lot of them to get done. The reason for this is that when doing this manually, you need to go from website to website making the corrections. Sometimes it’s not as easy as making changes yourself, you’ll need to contact the webmaster and put in a request. Hopefully, that will be the end of it, but you’ll need to keep track of it and possibly follow up.
  3. For many business owners, this is way too much, and it just makes more sense to pay for corrections. This can be done through looking at systematic corrections. While some go with citation software to try to automate the process, for the long-term in all likelihood the way to go will be with paying a company for corrections. They can locate all the incorrect listings, handle the time-consuming process of contacting each and every webmaster, and following through with every one of those listings.

There are definite advantages to going that way, and when you consider the time savings to hours that would have been lost from working (and therefore making money), it’s a deal that looks even better the more you examine it.

Conclusion

As a Premier Arkansas SEO Agency, we look at NAP consistency as extremely important. In fact, it is on the high “to do” list of any of our Local SEO campaigns to help our clients get the leg up on their local competition.

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