Why Does NAP for Business Matter?
NAP stands for the combination of your business Name, your customer-facing Address, and your customer-facing Phone number. In local search, it is one of the most important elements to establishing your business identity online, and thus being found by those in your local area.
At face value, the internet is a complicated ecosystem. However, at it’s most basic, it is a database, much like a library. A search engine can be compared to a filing system, and NAP is the card in the file – pointing searchers in the direction of your business. In the case of a library, books are filed by their primary identifier – which is a combination of letters and numbers in the Dewey decimal system that pertains to that book and that book alone. On the internet, your business’s primary identifier is your NAP – the unique combination of your address, phone number, and business name.
Where should NAP appear?
The most important place for your NAP to appear is on your Google+ Local business listing. This listing can rank independently, and is also accessed by mobile mapping applications. A properly optimized Google+ Local business listing that is linked to your website can mean a world of difference to a small business online. Next importantly is your website. Many would disagree, and say that your NAP information on your website is most important, however, if you are trying to be found on the most popular search engine in the US, it’s important to play by that search engine’s rules.
Here’s an important note. Your website should display your address EXACTLY as Google displays it in their map listings. Often that can mean replacing “Suite” or “Ste” with “#”, or truncating or spelling out abbreviations for words like ‘North’ ‘Circle’ ‘Ave’ etc. No matter how you traditionally write your address, it is most important to follow the example that Google has set as it will make solidifying your NAP presence across the web that much more simple.
On your website, your NAP information should be encapsulated in Local Schema markup. This will allow search engines to find and categorize your information more easily, and it will avoid any potential errors or confusion if you have other numbers or addresses listed on your website.
Finally, your NAP should appear in every local listing or local directory relating to your business online. An easy way to discover where your business is listed is by entering in your phone number, address, and business name individually into Google search to determine what appears. Take the time to methodically go through listings that may not have the correct information – often there are typos in business names, or alterations in addresses. Keep in mind the rule of thumb – make every address that appears online for your business match the address that Google displays. Many of these sites that have your business information displayed, including Citisearch, Localeze, and Infogroup, require phone verifications in order to claim and update your listing information – so make sure that you are near your business phone when you are running through this process.
Ultimately, when all these different areas where your NAP appears match up, you will notice it positively affect your SEO rankings. The Google algorithm will see that your NAP information that is listed on your website is corroborated across the web with links back to your website, which validates your business’s existence in the real world, and also provides valuable links directed back towards your website.
Here’s a great visual guide to follow with more information about NAP and improving your Google+ Rankings.