Despite the fact local and localised search terms, such as “near me” or entering a location have seen an astonishing 900% increase, local SEO efforts are often overlooked. When 78% of local searches now lead to a purchase in-store, ignoring local SEO is no longer an option.
In a similar way to standard SEO practices, local SEO is all about getting your business noticed in local and localised search results. One way you can achieve this is through NAP. We’ll explore what NAP is and why it’s important for your local SEO efforts.
What is NAP?
In local SEO terms, NAP stands for name, address, and phone. These details are all essential for your local SEO efforts. Not only does providing this information give your customers a quick and easy way to directly contact your business, but it also helps your ranking in local search results.
Alongside providing the essential contact details mentioned above, NAP has also come to include other details as well. Information such as:
- Email address
- Opening hours
In today’s digital environment, you need to provide as much contact information as possible to make it easier for customers to find you.
Why does NAP matter for your SEO?
As well as other local SEO efforts, such as targeting for local and localised keywords, setting up and maintaining a Google Business Profile, and local link building, providing NAP information is just as important.
Localised search results appear above the number 1 search result (yes, above!). That means you can increase the visibility of your business to local potential customers without having to achieve a top organic search result listing.
Here’s why. Google displays local search results in a ‘3-pack’ display. The businesses that are displayed in the 3-pack results are those Google deems relevant, prominent, and in close proximity to the searcher. Here’s an example:
Google uses the information you provide about your business online in its local ranking algorithms. The greater the consistency between your NAP details, the more Google will trust and believe your business is legitimate. It also helps build trust with customers.
Providing consistent NAP information also helps your business to rank in the 3-pack results too. Either failing to provide NAP details or providing inconsistent NAP details can come across as spam, reflecting badly on your ranking.
Google wants to provide its searchers with valuable results and missing or inconsistent NAP details reflect badly causing lower rankings. NAP is also considered one of the most important local SEO ranking factors too.
So, if you want to build trust and credibility with search engines and your potential customers, you need to provide consistent NAP details on your website, Google Business Profile (GBP), and other online sources such as business directories.
Here’s an example to showcase how inconsistencies can occur with NAP details:
How can I optimise my NAP information?
The first place to begin is by providing NAP information on your website. The information needs to be displayed prominently so it can easily be found. A dedicated page on your site, such as “contact” or “get in touch”, is a good place to include NAP details.
Here’s an example from the Dreamscape website:
You can also include NAP details in the footer of your website pages too. Notice how the NAP details are exactly the same on both pages.
Once you’ve included NAP details on your website, it’s time to give them to Google. You can do this through your GBP. If you haven’t set one up, you’ll need to claim and verify your business first. Otherwise, you can make the necessary changes in your profile settings.
Here’s how the information is displayed on Google to searchers once added to your Business Profile (again, notice the consistency):
Here are some top tips when providing and maintaining consistent NAP details:
- Decide how you will display your business name. For example, if your business name is abbreviated, you may want to use the abbreviated name in NAP details.
- Make sure you spell out abbreviates, such as STE or RM for suite or room respectively.
- If you use abbreviates in your address, such as Rd or St.
- The phone number you include and how it’s formatted (although Google have stated formatting on phone numbers is not a significant factor and can include variations)
- How your NAP details are formatted
Another major part of NAP is citations. These are mentions of your business or website on third-party websites. Citations come in two groups: structured and unstructured.
Structured citations are those made on business directory sites, such as Yellow Pages, Yelp, Yell, etc. Structured citations can also include social media profiles. The details you provide on these sites need to be the same as your website and GBP.
Fortunately, you have control over maintaining consistent NAP details with structured citations. By claiming your business listing on directory sites, you can manage the information and prevent others from providing inconsistent details.
In some cases, you may need to verify when claiming your business listing. However, taking the time to ensure consistency of NAP details in structured citations can greatly improve your local SEO efforts.
Not only can including your listing on business directories increase web traffic, but it also helps build your online presence. When it’s estimated that 94% have used a directory within the last 12 months to find information about a local business, this shows how important they can be.
You also want to make sure that any structured citations are up-to-date, and business listings don’t have any old and outdated details about your business. Not only does this reflect badly on your business with customers, but it can harm your local SEO efforts.
You may also encounter duplicate listings too. Duplicate listings can often contain outdated or incorrect information. If you encounter a duplicate listing, you can request to have the listing removed from the business directory. This will help to avoid confusing search engines and leaving customers to find incorrect contact details.
Unstructured citations are a snag with maintaining consistent NAP details. Many mentions of your business can be made without you knowing or realising. Whether it’s mentioned in online news articles or business directory listings, your details can appear anywhere.
As other people create these mentions, they may not be entirely consistent with your own. While it’s good that your business is getting coverage, inconsistent NAP details can affect your local SEO efforts.
These citations on other sites are known as unstructured citations. These are references to your business on third-party sites, including news sources, or blogs. Basically any website that is not a business directory.
Maintaining consistent NAP details can be one way to try and ensure unstructured citations remain consistent. You should also pay attention to the authority of the citing website and whether the site is considered spam, as this can affect your ranking potential too.
While structured citations have greater weighting, Google takes both forms of citations into account. To better improve the quality of unstructured citations, you need to be aware of:
- Accuracy (how well the citations matches your NAP existing details)
- Quality (the authority of your citing source)
- Relevance (is the source of the citation relevant to your business)
- Distribution (the number of sources citing your business)
Don’t be put off by unstructured citations though as they can be very beneficial. The more citations your business manages to obtain, the better for your SEO efforts. While it may be time-consuming, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results!
Ensuring NAP consistency will stand you in good stead to increase your local rankings and increase your visibility. With consistent Nap details, you’ll be pleasing both search engines and creating a favourable impression of your business. So, go forth and happy NAPing!