Digital marketing is a field full of acronyms. NAP is one acronym to which you’ll want to pay close attention. And, before you get too excited or confused, the NAP we’re talking about isn’t the one you wish you could take in the middle of the workday. The NAP we’re referring to has to do with your company’s name and contact information, and in this post, we break down what it is, why it’s important for SEO and local search, how to set it up, and how to get the most out of its power.
What is NAP?
NAP stands for name, address, phone. NAP refers to the company name, address, and phone number you use on any site where you appear. NAP is essential for businesses that want to rank well organically when a customer or potential prospect conducts a local search.
Why is NAP Important for SEO and Local Search?
What is the importance of NAP? That’s a question asked by many business owners. And here’s the answer…
Your NAP is What Causes You to Appear in Geo-Targeted Searches
Search engines use name, address, and phone number information to decide which listings to show in a geo-targeted search. If you don’t include this information on your website and social media profiles, search engines won’t know to display your business when someone conducts a local search for your products or services.
Consistent Use of Your NAP is Thought to Verify Your Legitimacy
Though search engine algorithms aren’t public knowledge, many SEO experts believe that major search engines like Google cross validate the legitimacy of businesses by cross referencing a business’s NAPs as they appear on multiple websites. Search engines won’t prioritize sites they don’t believe are legitimate. So, NAPS are also important for SEO and local search queries because matching NAPs signals legitimacy and thus increase the likelihood that your business ranks well.
Additional benefits of accurate and consistent NAPs, used appropriately within an SEO strategy, include:
- Better organic search rankings
- More traffic to your websites from local searches
- More leads
- More business
Setting Up Your NAP
By now you know that you need to include your NAP on your website. But, there are a few details you’ll want to consider before proceeding. The specificity of these details takes a lot of business owners off guard, but the decisions and actions that are made when setting up a NAP are critical. They cannot be overlooked.
1. Decide how you will represent your company name online
You want to use your full company name, not the nickname people you or others use for your business in casual conversation. For example, if your business’s official name is Miller’s Tree Removal and Debris Clean Up, you’ll want to use that as your name, not a variation of it such as Miller’s Tree Service.
2. Decide how you will write your company’s address
Ever notice how people use different notations when writing addresses? For example, you abbreviate the word “route” to “Rt.” but your wife writes the full word. You’ll need to be conscious of these subtle differences when listing your company address on websites across the web. Your address needs to be the same on every site. Again, it needs to be the same on every site. We repeated that line on purpose because consistency is that important.
Here are a few options for your address. Whichever version you choose, make sure it’s used in the same way—down to the period and capitalization—on every site.
- 111 Main Street
- 111 Main St
- 111 Main St.
It doesn’t hurt to maintain consistency when printing and distributing print materials such as business cards, pamphlets, and brochures. In fact, it’s better to get in the habit of always writing your company’s address the same way.
3. Decide how you will format your phone number
Just like your address, there are a few ways you can format your phone number. However, you will need to stick with the formatting you choose. Here are a few options:
For consistency’s sake, maintain the same formatting on paper communications including invoices, checks, brochures, pamphlets, letters, and business cards.
If you’re unsure about what NAP information to use, look at the paperwork you received when you registered your company. Use the name, address, and phone number that appear on your filing paperwork.
Minimizing NAP Inconsistency
Because your NAP is thought to be one way that search engines verify that your business is legit, you need to ensure that it’s consistent across the web—down to the exact formatting—periods and all. This action is so important, it has its own name: NAP Consistency.
A consistent NAP makes it easier for search engines to use all the websites you appear on to figure out who you are, what you do, and how people can find and contact you.
Search engines think and act like people. If people were to see three slightly different NAPS, it’s easy to see how they could become confused about how to reach you. Some may even think your three NAPs represent three different companies! You don’t want that. So, you need to choose one NAP and stick to it.
Of course, NAP Consistency is more easily discussed than achieved. If more than one person is responsible for managing your online presence, it’s understandable that businesses become too relaxed about their NAP. But, companies should strive to stay on top of NAP management.
To reduce instances of NAP inconsistency, try the following:
- Educate all employees about the importance of NAP Consistency.
- Include the precise NAP you want all employees to use in your branding bible
- Assign one person to search the web for your company and verify the accuracy of the NAPs that appears. Assign this same person to sift through the websites and profiles you own and maintain to verify the accuracy and consistency of your NAP.
The Ultimate NAP Checklist— Boost Your Visibility Online, Drive Traffic to Your Website, and Acquire Leads
Now that you know what NAP stands for, why it’s important, and how to maintain NAP Consistency, you’re set to put your NAP to use as part of your search engine optimization strategy.
To make implementation easy, we’ve created this checklist:
NAP Implementation Checklist
- Determine the exact NAP you’ll use—down to the precise formatting, periods and all
- Post your NAP on your website
- Make sure it’s visible in your website header and footer
- Include it on your contact page—here’s an example from our website’s contact page:
- Add your NAP to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- If you have additional phone numbers or addresses, you can include these using the BBB’s “additional phone numbers” and “additional addresses” feature
- Create a Google My Business profile and add your NAP to it/update your NAP on your Google My Business profile
- Improve your SEO results by creating several additional NAP citations across the web by listing yourself on various directories. Consider adding your business and NAP to the following directories:
- Local chamber of commerce sites
- The Better Business Bureau
- Add your NAP to all your social media profiles (esp. Google+)/Update your NAP on all social media profiles for accuracy and consistency
Once you’re up and running, you’ll want to check your NAP citations periodically to ensure they are accurately listed and consistent across the web.
Too Busy to Deal with Your NAP?
If you don’t have the time to search the web, check, and update all your NAPs, don’t sweat it. Expert digital marketers can collect and correct all your NAP citations, add your NAP to high-impact directories, and keep track of your NAP as it appears on social media. With an expert, not only will you never have to worry about NAP inconsistency, you will rest assured that your online visibility and search engine rankings are improving.