NAP time: name address and phone number tips for small businesses
Name address and phone number (NAP) are vital to local SEO for every small business. Here’s how to use your basic business contact info to show up when customers search for you.
We stress consistency across every customer touchpoint. Consistent customer experience is a cornerstone of good branding. Consistency in local SEO means ensuring that your business contact information is the same everywhere. That means your basic contact information: name, address, and phone number. This is the most important thing to get right for local SEO.
And it’s free.
The good thing is that most business owners and marketers know this and pay attention to it when they’re starting out.
The bad thing is that 49 percent of businesses have never updated their NAP listings after they were created. Even worse:
- 50 percent of SMBs have seen listings for their business that are not accurate
- 70 percent of SMBs say they don’t have the time to manage listings on all of the sites that consumers use
- Only 23 percent of SMBs have a good sense of how listings drive traffic to their business
The latest Moz Local Search Ranking Factor report found that the #1 negative ranking factor was “Listing detected at false business location,” meaning a mismatch between the online and offline business addresses. Negative ranking factor #3 was “Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem,” meaning inconsistent Name, Address, Phone number on the web.
These mismatches will kill your local SEO. You can nail everything else. But if a search engine doesn’t trust your basic business information you won’t show up in the search engine results page. Simple as that.
Search engines use your NAP as confirmation that yours is a real business with a local address and customers or clients. When NAP information is inconsistent, search engines can’t confirm this, and won’t rank your business highly on a results page.
Consistency means that your NAP is the same on Google My Business, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, your professional association directory listing, your business licenses, and all other sites and sources.
This is a serious challenge for a small business. Remember, 70 percent of SMBs say they don’t have the time to manage listings on all of the sites that consumers use. So how do you keep NAP information consistent across the web, especially on websites you don’t control? The answer is either do it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.
DIY NAP consistency means searching for your business name, address, and phone number; making a note of inconsistencies; contacting directory owners and asking them to update your info; waiting until they get around to it; and repeating the process every month.
(You’d be surprised how some directories pick up information from other directories, instead of contacting the business itself.)
It’s time consuming work, so SEO professionals usually include NAP updates in their services. I follow a monthly schedule because NAP info tends to be stable for a good reason: if a business keeps moving around or changing its name, there are more serious problems to deal with than local SEO. Changing your name, address, or phone number is not a trivial thing.
NAP Accuracy is usually secondary to NAP consistency. Inaccurate information is often a typo or a number transposition. Mistakes happen, so it’s important to keep a close eye on things like punctuation and capitalization (Joe, LLC isn’t the same as Joe LLC or JOE LLC) and phone numbers.
A good rule of thumb is to use your business card as your master document for your online contact information. This gives two benefits: a standardized set of contact info, and a way to ensure that the info your customers have is consistent between online and the real world.
Don’t sleep on your NAP
OK, so it’s clear that your business NAP is important stuff. But consistency and accuracy are just the beginning. Effective local SEO requires your NAP to be in text on your website (usually in the footer, sometimes in the About page), included in your press releases, listed in local business directories and professional association rosters, and so on.
Like we said, it’s time consuming work. But it’s never too late to start. And it doesn’t have to be a massive, stress-inducing project that eats your day. Focus your effort on the places you know your customers are looking: your website, local business directories, review sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, and your social media accounts.
Just don’t sleep on it.