Tips to Fix Your Local Business NAP and Improve Your Search Ranking

Improve Your Local Search Ranking

One of the biggest problems local business owners face is inaccurate and inconsistent NAP / NAP+W information in the various places their business is listed online. This negatively impacts your local search ranking and keeps customers from finding you. Here’s how to fix it.

First, it’s important to know that every local business has a signature that identifies it online. That signature is called the NAP which stands for Name, Address, Phone. It’s called a NAP+W if a website address is also used.

Whether your know it or not, your business is already listed on thousands of different websites and apps. Everywhere your business information is listed is called a citation and displays your local business NAP or NAP+W. The search engines consider all of these citations as “votes” for your business. They use them as a local search ranking factor for how well your business ranks when someone does a local search.

If your business information (NAP / NAP+W)  is incorrect or inconsistent on different sites, the search engines may think the citations refer to different businesses. In essence, the votes get split instead of all working together to help your business rank better.

This is why you must ensure that your key business information is 100% identical and accurate everywhere your business is listed online. In fact, a recent survey of over 500 local search consultants and local business owners showed how problematic inconsistent business information really is:

Most Common Local Search Ranking Issues
From BrightLocal’s InsideLocal Webinar Series

Know Your NAP / NAP+W

Before you do anything, you need to know exactly what your business NAP / NAP+W should be:

  • Name – Use the exact business name that you use on business cards, stationary and signage. Don’t add extra information like taglines, locations, service, legal terms (like LLC or Inc.), etc. And make sure that you always use exactly the same spelling and capitalization.
  • Address – Use the address of your real-world location, even if you do business at your clients’ locations (like plumbers or landscapers). Don’t use P.O. boxes or cross-streets … and be sure to use a validated street address that is properly formatted.
  • Phone – Always use a local phone number for your specific location … this helps validate your local geographic region to the search engines. Never list a toll-free, central call center or marketing tracking number.
  • Website – Use the home page of your website (for single location businesses), or the specific page on your website for the location you are listing (for multi-location businesses). Don’t link to social media sites (like Facebook), marketing tracking pages, etc. And make sure to pay attention to whether or not you use www or not … be consistent!

Update Key Online Listings with Consistent Business NAP Info

Next, make sure to check and update all of your key business listings online with your accurate and consistent NAP+W information. Here’s where you should start:

  • Google My Business
  • Secretary of State filing for your business
  • Better Business Bureau listing
  • Data providers (Infogroup,Localeze, Axiom, Factual)
  • Then other major online listings like Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Apple Maps, YP, etc.)

These sites are the most important. If you fix your NAP+W in these places, the local search ranking fixes will make their way to most of the other sites on the Internet. You can update most of these locations yourself or use a paid service to do it for you. But be patient, it may take several months for your updates to be fully reflected throughout the Internet.


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Eric is the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. He has 25 years of experience in digital marketing and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several B2B and consumer media companies. Eric has a passion for local businesses and focuses on practical digital strategies to help them attract more customers, build customer loyalty, and grow their business.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for info! How do you suggest dealing with having a (844) business number? Should I list my personal cell phone? Doesn’t that completely defeat the purpose of even having a business number? Same thing with the PO Box. I’m forced to use my home address for listings, but then am unable to have my company documents accepted because everything is sent to my mailing address… driving me nuts. Any insight appreciated!

  2. Hi Naia. I recommend getting a Google Voice or other virtual phone number that uses your local area code and exchange. Have that number forward to your cell phone if that’s what you use as your main line for the business. Then publish that Google Voice / virtual phone number on your website and in your various business listings online. As for the P.O. Box … can you share your website URL with me? I’d like to look at your site. Are you a service area business where you go to your customers or are you an actual business location where your customers come to you?

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