NAP doesn’t refer to the short sleep you love to take in the afternoon, but instead stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. It is a critical piece of the local SEO puzzle, and without it, you will have a hard time getting a business to rank well. Search engines use the NAP information to determine which companies to show when users enter any kind of geo-targeted search. You may hear NAP referred to as “citations”. You get a citation when your NAP data shows up in a directory on the web.
Check Your NAP for Accuracy
Before you start working on increasing the number of citations you have out there, it’s important to make sure the information is accurate. It should be listed on your website, too. The information should match in every single citation you have. If there is a difference between how it is listed from one place to the next, the search engine bots may not be able to read it as the same place – thereby negatively affecting your ranking. Your online citations should match your business filings with your state, the information on your website, and match the information on file with the post office. Ideally, your NAP should also include a landline as a phone number.
You need to find all the variations in your citations before you begin working on local SEO in earnest. This means thinking about any previous business names you’ve had if you’ve ever changed your name in the past. You also need to think about any addresses you’ve had in the past, especially if you’ve moved offices recently or if you have additional locations. How many phone numbers are you using? Are you using call tracking numbers? Toll free phone numbers? Cell phone numbers? List all of that stuff out, and then go over to Moz Local and search for your business.
This tool lets you see all the primary data aggregators, so it’s easy to see any NAP variations you may have. Add those to your list.
Then, head on over to Merchant Circle and Yellow Bot. These collect data from various sources but aren’t good at merging data from the sources, creating a lot of duplicates. Though it’s a pain to clean up, it can help you find variations you need to address.
Next, search Google. At this point, you’re looking for variations you’ve not already found, by searching with the phone numbers you have. Searching the phone numbers and excluding the names ensures you’ll get a list of results mentioning only the number, so you can catch any new names you didn’t already.
How do you search for this?
Phone number =”name1″ –”name2″, etc.
You can reverse this to find more phone numbers, by searching for the names, and excluding numbers you’re already aware of.
Name1 –”phone1″ –”phone2″ etc.
Repeat this process using the phone numbers and exclude address you’re already aware of, using only a portion of the address leaving out things like suite numbers.
What If There’s a Problem with the Information?
If you notice inaccurate or inconsistent NAP information, don’t panic. It’s not necessary to go through each listing one by one to manually fix it. Major data agencies collect, verify, and distribute your business data – which is why it spreads through the internet quickly. These companies generally make money by selling the data as leads, or by selling the data to other companies.
These major players include:
Start with these main companies, as correcting the data here ensures the right information will trickle out to other websites. Once the information is corrected with those sites, go on to the most authoritative directory websites, which include:
Once the information is cleaned up there, you’ll want to check other listings on the lower tier directory sites like:
- Yellow Pages
- City Search
- Angie’s List
- And so on…
But that doesn’t mean the job is easy, or done. When you fix an incorrect listing, it’s common for it to come back up again, since there’s not a single authority source of information for business NAP data. If you take the time to fix a Bing listing, Bing may see the listing (the wrong one) still exists on another site, and recreate it automatically.
As frustrating as the situation is, cleaning it up is essential to ranking locally. It will take time to get it done, and it will require diligence, but it can be done. The best part is, you can get the clean up done in ways that are not cost prohibitive.
Where Should You Enter Your NAP?
Your NAP needs to be entered using the same format anywhere it’s mentioned online – whether it’s your website, a newspaper article, a blog post, or a profile on any directory. It should always be included in text format, so Google and other search engine robots can read it. If it’s an image format, the search engines won’t “read” it like we can.
Here’s a list of some directories and websites to help you get started:
- Chamber of Commerce
- White Pages
- Super Pages
- Discover Our Town
- Advice Local
- Dex Media
- Biz Journals
- Judy’s Book
- Trip Advisor
- Magic Yellow
- Map Creator
- Get Fave
- Houzz (niche)
- Porch (niche)
- Home Advisor (niche)
- com (niche)
- Local chamber websites
- Other industry/niche websites
When you have all the NAP variations ready to go, you’re ready to start building citations. All you have to do is check all the NAP variations on the site before you submit a listing. This way, you’re not creating a duplicate listing.
You have two ways you can do this – using the site’s search feature to search by either the business name or phone number, or using Google. As simple as using a site’s own search feature is, it’s not the most reliable method, so I always recommend using Google.
Search it like this:
Site: domain.com “phone1”
Site: domain.com “phone2”
Site: domain.com “name1”
Site: domain.com “name2”
Site: domain.com “address1”
Site: domain.com “address2”
If you find an existing listing, follow the steps required to claim it and then update it. If you do not find a listing, follow the steps required to submit one. When you edit or submit listings, make sure they are fill out the profiles completely, with photos and descriptive copy.
What if You Have Multiple Locations?
Whether you have two locations, or tens of thousands of locations, clear and trustworthy location signals are necessary to high local ranking. But, with each location you have, keeping that information clear and trustworthy becomes more difficult.
You want a structured localized presence for your multiple location business, and you can do this using either subdomains or subfolders. Subfolders are typically the easiest, but if you only have a handful of locations, you could also create pages for each of them, and link out to them from a main location page. Treat the location pages as a landing page for each store location, optimizing accordingly for each locality.
If you’re a larger scale business with a bigger number of locations, you may want to consider the subdomain approach. You can piggy back on the root domain’s SEO “juice”, but now you’re able to optimize for the subdomain instead of the root. For example, if you owned redcars.com, and one of the countries you served is France, you could create france.redcars.com, and optimize the subdomain content specifically for your French customers. The local relevancy will boost your local SEO and improve your overall user experience to help increase conversions.
Do not rely on a single directory listing for multiple locations. Create separate listings for each location. Do not list corporate headquarter locations that do not serve customers. This approach doesn’t help local search or your customers. Many directories, including Google My Business now allow you to create multiple listings and optimize each according to their actual location.
Benefits of NAP Consistency
You’ll be able to increase your organic rankings since the information is the same and accurate across all channels. Whenever you move locations or change a phone number, you should update all citations as soon as possible.
You will appear higher in local search results on mobile devices and desktops. As such, you should see an increase in traffic, and hopefully an increase in calls from mobile devices. You’ll make it easier for new and existing customers to find your website and physical location.
NAP citations are a necessary evil for local SEO. If you find the process overwhelming, be patient and work methodically. If you’d rather not handle the task alone, the team here at Sach’s Marketing Group can take care of it for you.