What is NAP consistency?
NAP Consistency refers to the accuracy of a location-based business’s Name, Address, and Phone number across all digital platforms, directories, citations, and websites. It is widely considered a local search ranking factor in local SEO.
What are local citations?
The online properties that list a business’s NAP are called local citations. Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors established Citation Signals as the #4 most important Local Pack/Finder Ranking Factor. These include sites like directories, chamber of commerce mentions, and other business association pages that list business information. Citations do not necessarily have to link back to your site to provide search engines with positive signals regarding your business. However, consistency across all the citations that list your business information is a crucial signal to Google and Bing that your business is legitimate.
Why is NAP consistency important?
Google considers a focus on the user one of its main missions: “Our goal is always to provide you the most useful and relevant information.” However, since algorithms and computers have to sort all the information on the internet and humans can’t, Google and other search engines use certain types of ranking signals to determine the most relevant results for their users’ queries.
There are many types of factors that rank websites in the top of search engine results and relegate others to the second page. For local businesses, citations are one of the most important signals to Google and Bing that your business is authentic and the information it could serve to users is accurate. Any local business citations with inconsistencies are given a demerit of sorts in search engine’s set of ranking signals. Businesses with consistent Name, Address, and Phone number data around the web are ranked higher because, to search engines, clean citations mean your business cares about providing searchers with the right information.
What are common local citation issues that come up?
NAP consistency across local citations is a crucial SEO factor for many small, local businesses. It seems like this should be easy, but there are a few ways that local businesses can get it wrong and hurt their SEO. The first is having incorrect information in a citation. This can be from changing your phone number or address without letting directories know, inheriting someone else’s old phone number, pushing incorrect information through data aggregators, and many others. If the local citations have incorrect business information, search engines receive mixed signals. This digital confusion leads Google and Bing to potentially rank your local business lower than others who have all the correct information listed.
Another potential NAP mishap is having multiple listings for the same business across the same directory. Local SEOs call these duplicate listings, or ‘dupes’. With this scenario, search engines can see your multiple citations as misleading and not know which one to trust or rank. Users will also be confused–not knowing which listing to leave reviews under and perhaps even getting incorrect information from an outdated dupe. Multiple listings with bad data could also be sourced as originals, and duplicated across other platforms on the web–leaving you in an even bigger citation mess.
Unclaimed and unfinished citations can also hurt your local business rankings. To give Google and Bing the most correct data to work with, it’s important to claim your local business citations and complete every field with the correct information.
Does call tracking affect NAP consistency?
CallRail’s Advanced Guide to Local SEO, DNI, & NAP Consistency demonstrates how local businesses can successfully track their calls without affecting NAP. In this article, Mark Sullivan recommends a few methods for maintaining NAP, including one to “port the existing business’s phone number.” With the porting method, “there’s no need to go around the web updating information on directories.” Another method is to use Dynamic Number Insertion and configure it for local SEO.
However, if unique tracking phone numbers are used for each citation, as is done by some agencies and marketing services providers who don’t know better, call tracking numbers can pollute a business’s NAP.
It’s important to find a call tracking provider that can walk you through how to maintain the integrity of your business citations and NAP consistency.