NAP (Name/Address/phone) consistency seems to be one of those things that you don’t know the importance of until it’s too late ‐ or at least until it’s a massive task to attempt to correct. Though often overlooked, NAP consistency is an important factor for local search engine optimisation.
NAP consistency refers to the uniformity of your business information across the web. In other words, are your business name, address, phone number and website details consistent across all its citations online?
A citation can include anything online where your NAP information is mentioned, such as Google My Business, social media, articles, blog posts and so on. Although you may not think too much about it at the time, these citations can actually have a huge impact on your businesses performance in the rankings.
Have you ever wondered how your business’s information can appear on some online directories, such as Yelp or Yellow pages, when no one in your company ever created a listing with those sites? That’s because giant data companies make their money by collecting, verifying and distributing YOUR business information all around the world.
Huge companies, like Google actually subscribe to these types of businesses to supplement their databases. The result of this is a massive wildfire of information that spreads across the World Wide Web, without you having to lift a finger ‐ and this is what makes NAP consistency issues such a challenge to fix once incorrect information has taken flight.
In the MOZ 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors report, consistency of citations ranked 5th, above on-page SEO and organic user behaviour. While fifth might sound low initially, the only factors ranking higher than NAP consistency are physical address, proximity to the searcher, Google reviews and Google My Business elements – all of which are either natural priorities or out of your control.
This is why it is so important to ensure your NAP consistency is correct. It can dramatically affect how your business performs in the rankings. If there is enough inconsistency present, it may suppress your listing in Google and other search engines’ rankings to protect its users from potentially unreliable information.
Unfortunately for many businesses the effects of NAP inconsistency are still not very well known, and it is not taken as seriously as it could be. Even some SEO service providers who are aware of it do not know how to correct its ill effects.
It’s easy to go along and fix one or two incorrect listings. But don’t be surprised if they pop back up again within a few days.
A single authority for business data doesn’t exist, so even if you correct one listing – that one site may see your NAP information listed again differently elsewhere and re-create it automatically. Don’t be discouraged – though difficult, it is possible to clean up without costing you the earth.
Ideally, all your online citations should match what is on your website, your Google My Business profile and all social media pages, and should include a direct landline number.
For more information on NAP consistency, or if you think your business may be suffering from its ill-effects, please don’t hesitate to give us a call to discuss the SEO services we offer.
This article was published in October 2017. Last updated February 2022.
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