Is Consistent NAP Data Important for Local SEO?
If you’re looking to improve your business’ local ranking, then it’s important that you keep the NAP (Name, Address, Phone) consistent across the web. In addition to NAP, it’s also important that your website URL matches everywhere as well. NAP consistency helps search engines understand all of your location and contact details so they can help users find the information they are searching for and act accordingly. If you have inconsistent NAP information, then it could have a detrimental affect your local search rankings.
What is NAP?
NAP stands for your company’s name, address, and phone. NAP is essential for local businesses that want to rank well organically when a customer or potential client performs a local search relating to your business. Many times, people refer to the occurrence of NAP data throughout the web as “citations”. A citation is whenever your NAP data shows up on directory sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, newspaper articles, blog posts, etc.
NAP Consistency refers to the accuracy of a location-based business’s Name, Address, and Phone number across all business listings, local directories, social media profiles, and websites. It is widely considered an important search ranking factor for local SEO. Don’t forget about your homepage URL as well as this is another important element to keep consistent.
NAP Consistency and Local Search Visibility
Mistakes in your NAP data can happen for many reasons. The most common one is when people change the address or telephone of their business, and they proceed to create new listings with those details instead of amending or deleting the old listings. This may seem like the easier thing to do, but it actually creates problems when search engines are trying to rank your business because there are two, or more, different sets of NAP data. This can hurt your local rankings in a major way and can hold back your company when trying to generate new business.
“NAP consistency should be seen as a foundational local search engine optimization strategy. It’s really just common sense marketing. Think of it as the minimum requirements to play in the local search game.”
NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local search and Local Pack (GBP/GMB/MAPS) algorithms, which means that building citations with a consistent NAP on your Google Business Profile listing and other online directories and sites can influence your local rankings.
The benefits of applying a consistent NAP
When it comes to marketing your business, the internet is no place for inconsistency.
People need to be able to clearly and quickly identify your business, what it does if it can solve their problem, and how to get in touch with you. When your NAP is consistent, your business benefits.
Easier contact options
Customers are looking for quick and clear details that tell them more about your business. Accurate NAP details make it easy for them to contact you from any listing once they decide to reach out.
Higher search ranking
Google and other search engines reward consistency. If your NAP data matches across different sites, Google sees that as high value and will rank you higher. People searching for a “cleaning service near me” are more likely to find you in their search. And with “near me” searches up 900% in the last two years, this is key to exposure for your business.
Increased buyer trust
NAP consistency shows consumers you’re reliable and makes them more likely to reach out to you. In contrast, missing or inaccurate info can leave questions in consumers’ minds.
Which of these is the right number? Is this the same company I saw on Yelp? Does this logo look different?
Too many questions and people will move on to clearer options.
Higher Traffic and Conversions
NAP, and online citations in general, are all about increasing chances that people will find you (traffic) and reach out to you (conversions). Consistent NAP content boosts both of these by making it easier for consumers to find your info and successfully act on it when they’re ready.
Why is NAP consistency important?
Google considers a focus on the user one of its main missions: “Our goal is always to provide you the most useful and relevant information.” Algorithms have to sort all the information on the Internet, so Google and other search engines use many types of ranking signals to determine the most relevant results for their users’ queries.
There are many types of factors that rank websites in the top of search engine results and relegate others to the second page. For search results that return local business results, citations are one of the most important signals to Google and Bing that your business is authentic and the information it could serve to users is accurate. Local business citations with major inconsistencies are given a demerit of sorts in search engine’s set of ranking signals. Businesses with consistent Name, Address, and Phone number data around the web are ranked higher because, to search engines, consistent citations mean your business cares about providing searchers with the right information.
The same concept can be applied to people looking for information about a business. If you were trying to contact a business and found online listings inconsistent with an old phone number, or multiple old addresses listed for a business it would be a bad experience. You might think a company who doesn’t bother to update their contact information isn’t trustworthy enough to handle your business either. In fact, 73% of users lose trust in a brand if their business listing contains inaccurate data. The best businesses stay on top of their online presence by keeping all their directory listings up-to-date.
Just how consistent does NAP have to be?
Don’t believe the myth that all NAP citations must have every character, space and dash be exactly the same. Google representative John Mueller has implied that phone number formatting doesn’t have to be exact in every citation, however the actual phone number displayed should be the same. Mike Blumenthal, local search expert, has talked about Google’s ability to “normalize” local citation data with regard to slight variations in common abbreviations and formats. This goes for suite numbers too. Local SEO expert, Darren Shaw of WhiteSpark says that suite numbers do not matter for consistency, but you should add them to help your customers find you.
And while this “perfect consistency” is not 100% required, it is still a good practice to follow.
The takeaway here is to do your absolute best to maintain a consistent business name, address, telephone number and URL in online listings and your website, but don’t stress out too much about slight variations, the search engine can figure it out. That said, do what’s best for your potential customers, make sure it’s easy to find you and conform to a consistent format across all listings as much as possible.
Your local search rankings may not be impacted if one citation says “Ave” instead of “Avenue” or even if a suite number is missing or formatted differently. Above all, make sure you your citations are correct, and if you do make a change, put the effort in to update contact info everywhere a potential customer might find it.
What are common local citation issues that come up?
NAP consistency across local citations is a crucial SEO factor for many local and service area businesses. It seems like this should be easy, but there are a few ways that local business listings can become inconsistent and impact search visibility.
Incorrect information in a citation. This can be from changing your phone number or address without updating directory listings, inheriting someone else’s old phone number, or pushing incorrect information through data aggregators. If the local citations have incorrect business information, search engines receive mixed signals. This digital confusion leads Google and Bing to potentially rank your local business lower than others who have all the consistent information listed.
Multiple listings for the same business across the same directory. With this scenario, search engines can see your duplicate listings as misleading and not know which one to trust or rank. Users will also be confused – not knowing which listing to leave reviews under and perhaps even getting incorrect information from outdated duplicate listings. Multiple listings with bad data could also be sourced as originals, and duplicated across other platforms on the web–leaving you in an even bigger citation mess.
Unclaimed and unfinished citations can also hurt your local business rankings. To give Google and Bing the most correct data to work with, it’s important to claim your local business citations and complete every field with the correct information.
Does call tracking (DNI) affect NAP consistency?
How to Use Call Tracking with Google My Business Listings Without Hurting SEO
Over the past several years, I’ve answered hundreds of questions, written several articles, and given multiple presentations on how to harness the benefits of call tracking and analytics for local SEO campaigns without interfering with one of the most critical ranking factors, NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) consistency.
I recently participated in a panel discussion held by a prominent private SEO group on Facebook. One of the hot topics was Local SEO and in particular, how optimizing Google My Business listings was becoming a cornerstone of SEO for businesses with a storefront or that service a local customer base.
One of the panelists told our audience that using tracking numbers on your website or Google My Business listing adversely impacts SEO and that it is imperative to keep references to your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) consistent across all websites to avoid hurting SEO results.
“While this used to be true, it’s outdated information.”
Call tracking provides foundational data that is essential to understanding where your leads are coming from and which of your marketing campaigns are working. Yet, otherwise talented marketing consultants continue to spread the myth that call tracking is bad, giving business owners invalid reasons to avoid using call tracking.
This consultant was absolutely right when he stated that it is still important to have NAP consistency, which means it’s important that your name, address, and phone number is the same across all online directories and websites. This provides a positive signal to Google that your business is legitimate, which helps Local SEO. That said, there are two exceptions where you can safely use call tracking: your Google Business Profile listing and your website.
However, you need to set them up correctly.
How to Add Call Tracking to GMB
Here are the steps to use a tracking phone number on your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing:
- In your GMB dashboard, click on the Info tab to edit your contact information
- Enter your tracking number as your primary number, then click Add Phone Number
- Enter your business’s main phone number from your website as the additional phone number
Only the primary number will appear in your Google My Business listing, allowing you to track those calls. But the presence of your local phone number as an additional number gives Google the information it needs to associate your GMB listing with your website. This prevents call tracking from hurting your SEO.
Should you use tracking numbers on other NAP listings?
We don’t recommend it.
Where it gets tricky is when a business uses call tracking numbers on its other profiles like social sites and review sites. Because using DNI on these external profiles is not usually an option, the tracking numbers on these profiles must be hard-coded.
But since optimizing Google Business Profile listings has become an important lead generating tactic, we do recommend using a call tracking number so you can calculate a return on your investment in GBP listing optimization.
How to Set Up Website Call Tracking
To track calls from your website, use Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI). With Dynamic Number Insertion, your local phone number is in the HTML code of the website. When someone visits your website, they are assigned a different phone number and when they dial this phone number, the call is routed to your local number. DNI vendors do not replace the number when bots from Google and other search engines visit the site, so they will still see your local phone number.
NAP consistency is a key ingredient of local search engine optimization. It is one of the more important local search engine ranking factors that Google and other search engines evaluate when they are ranking local businesses on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you’re still on the fence about including call tracking in your Local SEO (or any marketing) plan, give it a try. We’ve found that using call tracking is essential for calculating ROI, identifying opportunities, isolating issues, and so much more. The data you collect through call tracking will make you a much better (and smarter) marketer.
It is the goal of every local business to appear higher on the SERPs, and ensuring NAP consistency is one of the most important steps you can take to achieve that goal.