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:
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.