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Marketing is full of acronyms that can be confusing.
But if you’re looking to get more leads and more work in your local area, one of the most important acronyms for you to understand is NAP.
No this isn’t the rest you’d love to take after lunch.
Your NAP stands for your business name, address and phone number.
Your NAP is not just the information you display on your own website. It is the contact information that appears on any site you appear on.
More than a way for potential customers to find you in your local area, your NAP is a crucial ranking factor you need to stand out from the crowd and appear when people search for your products and services online.
Which means getting your NAP right can mean more traffic and leads. But getting your NAP wrong can affect your rankings and let your competition get the edge on you.
So if you want to get more local work, here’s everything you need to know.
Put simply, your NAP is what causes you to appear in geo-targeted searches.
That means, when people search for services connected to locations, for example “Sydney plumber” or “Melbourne chiropractor”, your NAP will help tell Google that you are a local business worth displaying.
It’s also worth noting that Google is able to tell when a search has local intent.
So even if a potential customer searches for “plumbers near me”, or even just “plumbers”, the businesses displayed will still typically be local businesses (Google is pretty smart like that).
If you don’t include your NAP on your website, search engines like Google won’t know that you are a local option when someone searches for your products and services.
And that’s bad for business.
No. That’s just the start.
While that will help Google recognise you as a local business, there are tens, or even hundreds of competitors in your local area also looking to appear on Google.
Simply adding your NAP to your own website is not enough to convince Google to show you above your competitors.
Instead, Google takes into account how often your NAP is displayed on the web to help decide where you rank. This is known as a local search ranking factor.
Why does the number of times your NAP is displayed matter?
The more your NAP is displayed online, the more legitimate your business appears.
The process of getting your NAP displayed online is typically done through local SEO campaigns that build citations for you on relevant directories.
After all, why would other websites and directories link back to your business if they did not think you were a quality, relevant and trusted business?
Examples of relevant directories include business listing sites like:
These citations aren’t necessarily a backlink to your website (though the more quality backlinks you can create, the better your rankings will be).
Instead, citations are typically just mentions of your business in the form of your NAP. The value comes from being mentioned – remember, the more mentions of your business on the web, the more trustworthy you look to Google, and the more likely you will appear when people search for your products and services.
It’s also super important to note that your NAP cannot have any variations – at all!
Consistent use of your NAP verifies your legitimacy, just like we touched on above.
If Google sees the exact same wording of your NAP across 50 separate directories and sites, it considers you to be more legitimate.
However, if your NAP appeared in 50 different variations on those 50 different sites, Google would not see you as legitimate.
In this case your competition, who have made sure their NAPs are consistent, may rank above you.
TAKEAWAY: Google cross references your NAP each time someone searches for your products and services, and the more your NAPs match across the internet, the greater the likelihood of your business ranking too.
Inconsistent NAP can be the result of human errors or business changes.
The most common reasons include:
Each of these mistakes can reduce your ability to rank, as well as cause problems for your customers.
Your customers don’t want to call up only to find the number they’re using is no longer connected!
The easiest way to stay on top of your NAPs is to set it up properly from the start then leave your information alone.
This means no changing your business name once your citations have been built and directory listings created.
Consider the following steps to ensure your NAP is consistent everywhere it is found.
Tip – Use ‘John Doe’s Gardening & Lawn Mowing’ rather than ‘JD’s Gardening & Mowing‘. Even if your business is known casually in your area, using your full business name is vital.
Tip – Once you have written out your address on your website, this will become the default for all other citations and directories.
For example, if your business address is 123 Smith Street, then you can’t write it as ‘123 Smith St’ or any other minor variation.
Tip – Just like with your address, you should display your phone number in the same format everywhere it is written.
That means if you choose the format (02) 0202 020 202 then you have to stick with it. Even changing the format to 02-0202-020-202 will reduce the effectiveness of your local SEO.
These tips might sound like common sense, but countless businesses choose to change their name, or address, or phone number once their citations and directory listings have been built – and this can cripple your ability to rank in local search results.
Remember, consistent NAP results across the internet helps Google to see you as a legitimate business, and in turn increases your chances of appearing when people look for your products and services.
So stay consistent. Focus on building citations. And become the #1 business in your local area.