In the world of web design and optimization, we use a lot of acronyms. SEO, CTA, SERP, GMB, and NAP…the list goes on and on. NAP is one we talk about a lot with respect to small businesses, because it plays an important role in local search. In this post, we explain what NAP means, and why this information is important for local SEO. We’ll also teach you how to optimize your listings and make sure they stay consistent across the web!
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Table of contents
What does NAP mean?
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. These details help Google serve relevant results for geo-targeted local searches (a search like [coffee shops in Chicago], for example). They also help Google display accurate contact information for your business when anyone searches for you online.
Any time you list your company name, address, and phone number online, you create an NAP citation for your business. That means your website, social media profiles, listings on Yelp, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor, and any references to your business in local/industry directories can all count as NAP citations. Any other online sites that write about your business and include these details inadvertently create a citation, too.
Where should you enter your NAP information?
Perhaps the most important place to display your NAP is on your website. At a minimum, you should display this information on your contact page or along the header or footer. But where else besides your website should these details be listed?
What to include?
When you fill out your NAP information, make sure you use your full business name and complete address and phone number. You can also choose to include your website URL to your listings.
If you have multiple locations, we recommend choosing one address as your primary location. And if you have multiple phone numbers, specify what each number is for (i.e. customer support, fax, emergencies).
Make sure your information is consistent
In order for customers to find you online, they need to see up-to-date, accurate, and consistent NAP information. Consistency doesn’t just mean having the same information. It also includes having the same spelling and formatting, too. That means the NAP for every listing of your business online should look exactly the same.
If your business is listed under different names, with different addresses, inconsistent phone numbers, and different website URLs…this confuses people. They lose trust in your brand and ultimately turn to a competitor whose information is more consistent than yours. And because people behave this way, so will the search engines. If they find conflicting NAP information, they won’t know for certain what your business is or where it’s located. This makes them lose confidence in your listing, and thus rank you lower in the search results.
Use Google to find incorrect listings
You can use Google site operators, such as site:yelp.com “my business” to search specific directories or you can search for your phone number, address, or business name.
When your NAP information is consistent, the same details show up on all profiles and in all directories. This helps search engines understand who you are, what you do, and how users can find and reach your business.
Below are three listings for Jane Doe’s Floral Shop. In order to maintain consistency across the web, Jane would need to correct the middle and right-most listings to match the left one. See if you can find all the discrepancies and correct them!
Jane Doe’s Floral Shop
123 Blank Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
WRONG LISTING #1
JD’s Floral Shop
123 Blank St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
WRONG LISTING #2
Corner of Blank St. & Main St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Why is NAP information important for SEO?
Citations in online directories – which include your NAP – are the sixth most important local ranking factor. Whenever someone enters a geo-targeted search query, Google scans your NAP to determine if your website is the best result for that user. For instance, if Lily wants to check out [restaurants in the Pittsburgh area], websites with NAP info that matches Google’s knowledge about the Pittsburgh area are more likely to show up in Lily’s search results. If you want to be found for these searches, you need to list your NAP information online and optimize it.
“But there are other, more important things I should worry about when it comes to local SEO,” you might think. There certainly are; however, we always advise our clients to take a holistic approach to their website SEO. That means taking everything into account, even the little things. Speed, design, online copy, site structure, social media, as well as off-page factors like local citations, link building, reviews, and Google My Business. All of these things are important, if you aim to be the best result.
While other factors might “matter more”, citations still play a key role in local search, by reaching customers in the right places and ensuring they see accurate information about your business. In fact, 80% of customers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect or inconsistent NAP information online! So making sure these details are correct and consistent is incredibly important.
How can I optimize my NAP details?
There are several things you can do to optimize your NAP for local SEO:
- Claim your listing on Google My Business and fill out all your NAP information there;
- Display your NAP in a prominent place on your website, like the header or footer;
- Make sure your NAP information is on your Contact page;
- Search other directories – Yelp, Tripadvisor, Foursquare, and local/industry directories – to see if your business has a listing there. If it does, claim it. Make sure those details match what you have on your website and on Google My Business;
- Keep your NAP details the same everywhere – they should be identical, no matter which site you find your business on!
Lastly, we recommend creating a spreadsheet or other record of your online listings. While this technically doesn’t help you optimize your NAP, it helps you quickly make corrections if your business changes locations or if you change your phone number.
Having the right NAP information for your business can make an impact on your rankings in local search results. Make sure you hunt down inconsistent listings, correct any discrepancies you find, and keep track of all your citations online. That way, if you ever move locations or change numbers, you won’t be sent on a wild goose chase across the web!