When faced with an acronym such as NAP, it may be tempting to run and hide in the opposite direction. However, due to its importance, we’d advise not to. An unmissable step for local SEO and E-A-T (yes, even more acronyms to throw in the ring), we often see many businesses overlook the measure due to its slightly baffling nature. In truth, it is much simpler than it may have you believe.
To help you better understand NAP consistency, as well as its impact on SEO, we’re on hand to break it down and explain what actually matters, cutting out all the unnecessary jargon along the way.
What is NAP Consistency?
Simply, the acronym NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Not so bad, eh? So, when we say NAP consistency, we refer to the accuracy and consistency of these three elements across all business listings, directories, websites, social media profiles, and the company’s own website. Easy enough.
Why is NAP Consistency important?
Well, despite search engines having come a long way in the past decade, many businesses are falsely led to believe that search engines can easily decipher what information is correct amongst a sea of varying company names and inconsistent phone numbers which can naturally occur over time. Inconsistencies across websites will only lead to issues with both search engines and users alike being confused by the inconsistencies. When search engines discover inaccuracies, it is ultimately classed as poor user experience which can result in lower rankings, particularly for geo-targeted searches.
Need another reason? We all know Google and other search engines utilise a number of ranking signals to serve the best, most reliable results for the user’s query. It is strongly suggested through various industry studies, and by Google themselves, that search engines favour businesses with complete and accurate information. Without this, you are showcasing your business to be unreliable and potentially disingenuous. Search engines will advocate websites that prove a level of trustworthiness.
In addition, NAP consistency plays a strong role in creating your citations which themselves are vital for boosting a website’s organic search performance. Search engines will use the details found on these to validate your business information. The bottom line is this: making your business information consistent across your website et al is just plain old marketing commonsense. Would you have differing information on your work van and your shop front? It’s the same principle.
Common NAP faux-pas
For some, it seems like keeping business information accurate and up to date is a doddle. But, in reality, no one is immune to change, and that includes businesses. Let’s break down some of the easy ways you may have accrued inconsistencies:
- Typos and simple human error mean it’s unfortunate but possible to mess up your NAP consistency
- Forgetfulness. Changing your phone number or moving address can impact your business in various ways, including your search visibility. Avoid sending mixed signals by ensuring any phone number, business address, name change, or other profile change is properly updated on your website and listings.
- Unfinished or unclaimed listings can tarnish your SEO efforts just as much as incorrect information. Be thorough when creating your listings rather than doing a modicum of the work. Aim to complete every field with your information to avoid any mishaps, right down to the social media links and logo.
- Duplicate and/or conflicting listings can happen when third party systems or the public submit a version of your data. It comes back down to the trust factors and the way this issue can mislead search engines. How will they know which listing to believe? Just as importantly, how will your potential customers?
Quick tips to help with NAP
Whether you moved business location and forgot to update this online, or you’ve rebranded and can’t remember every citation ever built to go back and edit, with a little work, you can get your NAP back on track.
As an integral part of your digital marketing strategy, here are a few basic tips to help you succeed with your NAP consistency:
1. Check your website
Scan through your entire website to identify where name, address, phone information is currently sitting, and update this if need be. Some of the obvious places to check and update would be in the footer and on the contact page, some less obvious places to check would be your local business schema in the website source code.
2. Update your Google Business Profile
Login to your Google Business Profile - formerly known as Google My Business - and update the information to match your exact NAP details. Remember: consistency is key. In this instance, a typo could have negative effects.
3. Audit your citations
The free way to do this is to create a spreadsheet to keep track of your listings and subsequent amendments. Don’t do the bare minimum; if you want this to work, go through every listing with a fine-tooth comb. When you spot an inconsistency, log in and make the relevant changes. Can’t access your account? Most websites will have a contact method to suggest an edit.
Of course, knowing how to find the listings will make this job a lot easier. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available, from Ahrefs to Google Search Console to check who links back. It’s important to note that many businesses, particularly larger companies, will use paid tools to help with citation management.
Tip: It’s a good idea to audit your citations regularly. Every 6 months or so should do the trick!
4. Don’t forget about social media
It’s not all about the business directories and associations. Many businesses now utilise social media for brand building, and for good reason. Ensure your NAP details are up to date across your social media platforms. With around two-thirds of consumers using social media as part of their buying process, this is another important NAP to keep on top of.
It is a common industry belief that “SEO is ever-changing”. However, amongst search engine algorithms and technologies getting fancier and somewhat convoluted, a winning local SEO strategy will always have NAP consistency at the heart of it. The more accurate and consistent your NAP is, the more chances you will have to overthrow your competitors’ rankings and become organic search’s definition of the salt of the earth.
Don’t delay it - be responsive to change.