NAP is a common acronym used in Local SEO and it stands for “Name, Address, and Phone number”. A mention of a business's NAP on a third party site is known as a Citation. Appropriate Citations are an important ranking factor for local businesses.
It used to be that the pure quantity of Citations would be the major ranking influence. However today the quality of the Citations is a more important influence. What determines the quality of a Citation is the page rank of the Citation site and the relevance to your business. Having a few high-quality Citations can be better than having a large number of low-quality Citations.
Different types of business are likely to have specialist Citation sites. A classic example is the hospitality industry which has almost been hijacked by third-party directories including Google. Think TripAdvisor,Booking.com, Airbnb etc. Citation sites specific to a particular industry will carry more weight for businesses in that industry.
NAP is important to Google and the other search engines because it provides them with the ability to associate multiple Citations with the same company. But it can only do that if the information is consistent. If the information varies then it is unlikely that search engines will recognise them as the same entity.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to any company’s NAP is that it should remain consistent online. Not only should it appear on the company’s website, but the same NAP should appear consistently across all directories. Directories include maps databases, review sites, social media profiles, and any other part of a company’s online presence. The information should also be complete. A full Postcode is better than a partial Postcode. Some businesses use partial Postcodes in the hope of reaching a wider area – there are other ways to achieve that objective.
This is particularly true with online directories such as Google My Business, Yelp, Yell.com, and others. If Google sees inconsistencies it may assume that it is a different business entity altogether. By being consistent, Google will recognise the business more easily and it will rank higher.
Establishing the page rank of potential Citations is not straightforward but there are tools available to help. Most Local SEO consultants will have these tools available and can advise on a Citation strategy.
If you are interested to learn more about this topic there are a number of sources including this from Search Engine Journal.
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