WHAT THE HECK IS NAP CONSISTENCY?! WHY CITATION BUILDING IS THE KEY TO LOCAL SEARCH.
You may have never heard the term NAP consistency, but it is probably the single most important factor in local SEO. Your NAP is the name, address, and phone number of your business, and this information is probably listed in many places online. To understand why NAP consistency matters, first we must talk about online directories and the role they play in local search…
WHAT IS LOCAL SEARCH?
When you search for a particular kind of business (hair salon, pizza restaurant, mechanic, etc.) search engines use your location to determine which results you get. The search engine assumes that if you live in Milwaukee, you are probably not searching for the best plumber in Denver! Localized search results are great for local business, because they allow us to focus our SEO efforts only on our local community. After all, Denver’s best plumber probably isn’t interested in marketing his services to Milwaukee residents!
WHY DO ONLINE DIRECTORIES MATTER?
There are a few different factors that influence local search results. Website optimization is always critical (for more info on that, check out our post!) Your business’s online reputation also plays a major role in local search results. Check out our series “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: How to Encourage Great Reviews, and How to Handle It When Things Get Ugly!” for more information about strengthening your online reputation. Today, we are going to focus on directory listings, and the way your NAP information can make your local SEO efforts succeed.
“The goal of search engines is to display the most useful results to searchers, so they are more likely to display your business if it has a very consistent online presence.”
There are over ten thousand online directories. Some directories have a broad range of listings, while some focus on particular industries or areas. Some directories are free to use or to add listings to, while others charge for access and listings. At their most basic, directories are simply lists of businesses– think of them like a digital phone book. The more times your business’s information is listed on the web, the more search engines consider your business to be “legitimate”; a real business with a real location.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT INCONSISTENT LISTINGS
This is where things can get a little bit complicated! Your business information can end up online in many different ways. Sometimes, business listings are generated by directories for seemingly no reason! Other times, one directory will buy information from another, so an inaccurate listing can multiply quickly. Some data aggregators share business information with hundreds of directories, so one listing can really spread. Finally, some directories charge businesses to take control of their listings, so correcting bad information can get expensive! There are also “premium listing services” that charge hefty fees to manage your directory listings.
We encourage all of our clients to follow a few simple guidelines when it comes to directory listings:
Always maintain an accurate Google My Business page and Bing Places page Be wary of any service that offers to change your directory listings without claiming them. Many directories offer verified listings and the ability to “claim” your listing so it cannot be changed by others. This is important! If you are paying a monthly fee for citation building but your listings are unverified, you will not have control over your listings if you ever stop paying for listing management.Don’t confuse local SEO and directory listings! Though citation building can be one of the most important components of a local SEO strategy, directory listings are not enough to rank well in the search engines. If you are paying a service for directory listings only, you are missing out on a big part of local SEO.
If you are concerned about your business’s NAP consistency, contact us today! We offer a FREE citation audit for all of our new clients!