When you own a local business, being found on the web is one of the most important things to acquire new customers. In the old days, being in the Yellow Pages was very important. Today, there are several online directories where you can list your business as well.
From small players like Manta, Foursquare, & CitySearch to big guns like Facebook, Google, & Yelp, being in these directories is important if you want to be found by potential customers who are using these sites to search for a business like yours.
It should come to no surprise that Google is the most important local directory a business should be in since it is the source for a majority of local searches.
Being in the rest of these directories is important to ranking higher in Google too… if done correctly.
Doing it correctly simply means having a consistent NAP across every directory, and being in as many directories as possible.
What Is NAP?
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Having few errors in your business’s NAP across the web will help you establish trust from Google.
These three pieces of information are essential to companies of all sizes, though a lot of business owners don’t realize quite how important these areas are on the web.
There are a lot of websites which will collect this information and display it on your behalf, so it makes sense that you would want to provide accurate details which won’t leave anyone confused.
NAP for SEO
When your name, address and phone number are displayed correctly across all your business listings and website, it establishes a trust from Google.
Maintaining trust with Google and not coming across as spammy is what gets you rewarded with higher rankings.
If you want to rank higher in Google Maps as well as in organic rankings, blasting a consistent NAP to as many different directory sites will help dramatically.
Why is NAP Important to Google?
A business name is vital for many reasons. For one, it helps customers to share information about you, giving them the chance to identify you accurately. Along with this, it also enables people to make sure that they are reading the right information when they’re trying to get in contact, as people are far better at remembering names than addresses or phone numbers.
This is something which needs to remain consistent across all of the platforms you appear on, with a company called “Big Star Citytown,” for example, shooting themselves in the foot if they use their full name on social media but call themselves BSC on Google.
While an address is already essential for a business, giving them the chance to direct the customer to the right place, it is also crucial when you’re targeting local users. This is the primary piece of information which will be used to help you rank locally.
Nowadays, whenever you’re adding an address to a website, you will usually have a Google Maps form to fill in to make it automatic. If you fail to include your business name in the address, it won’t show up, and this is an easy way to find yourself struggling in searches.
While emails have been around for a very long time, customers will still prefer to talk to businesses by phone. The approach you take with this has to be balanced with the company you run.
For example, if you are operating purely locally, having a local phone number will make a lot of sense, and you can use the one which is tied to your building.
Alternatively, you could consider the idea of a business phone number if you’d prefer to reach out to the customers who are both local and further away. Failing to keep this piece of information up to date can lead to customers trying to call the wrong line.
There are a lot of important reasons to keep online information regarding your business up to date. It’s easy to overlook this area, though, especially when you have a lot of work on your hands, and a lot of companies struggle here.
There are several services around the web which can search around for you, finding mismatches which could be causing issues.
Imagine receiving poor reviews because you’ve kept your company’s old address and customers think that you’re the one who has taken over the building. This sort of issue is entirely avoidable.
Using NAP Marketing Effectively
Using a set of information like this in a way which will support your business isn’t always an easy job. Google My Business is one of the best places to get started, with this system being specifically designed to support companies with their local rankings, using tools like NAP to help.
You can sign up for an account like this for free but will need to either accept a phone call, SMS, or letter which will verify the contact details as belonging to your business.
If you set up your Local Business account correctly, your business will show up with searches of its name, even if you don’t have your website.
Along with using a tool like Google Local Business, it will also be worth thinking about how your NAP information is displayed on your website. Text needs to be used for this, rather than images, as this will allow Google to read the content correctly.
Names, addresses, and phone numbers should always fill headings on your site, showing search engines that the information is essential. If you’re using a system like WordPress or Squarespace, you will have the option to add this information in the SEO section of the settings portal, and this is well worth the effort which will go into it.
Local SEO is something which leaves a lot of small businesses feeling confused. While this is undoubtedly connected to the other marketing work you have to do, it will be unique in the approaches it demands.
As time goes on, more and more tools are hitting the market to make this easier for you, and this should save any misplaced reviews, lost customers, or missed communications as the result of your NAP information being incorrect.