NAP

NAP, or in plain English Name, Address and Phone Number, is a mainstay of what is now called Google Business Profile (GBP), previously called Google My Business (GMB). Essentially, it is your basic business details that Google offers up within its search results. This should be a simple thing to maintain, and Google explicitly requests that these details are accurate and consistent across the internet.

Unfortunately, just because Google wants consistency, it isn’t very good at making the task easy.

The Role of the SEO Agency and a Crystal Ball

As a long-standing professional Search Engine Optimisation Agency, we have a huge skill set. Our SEO campaigns are built around meticulous research, years of experience and testing and.. Guesswork!

Yes, we know that will sound odd, but in this article, we will explain how “guesswork” is the centre of SEO and how Google ensures it stays that way.

Google is an enigma in that it releases white papers, technical papers and updates on a regular basis but never actually tells us what it is doing and what it wants from us. It has no direct contact with the SEO industry, and although there are some “industry experts”, their expertise is still based upon supposition.

So, to the Point in Hand – NAP

Google insist that the information has to be exact. But what is exact? There are literally thousands of directories where you can list your business in addition to GBP. Directories such as Yell, Facebook, Bing Places, and Scoot are just a few. Each has its own input criteria, so how do we keep our NAP consistent?

For example, most UK directories use a “county” field, but Google Business profile doesn’t. Some directories insist postcodes are split, such as SN2 7SU, whereas others are happy with SN27SU.

We think it is safe to assume that Google can handle these inconsistencies and doesn’t penalise rankings for the lack of consistency to its own standard, but how do we know?

The issue comes when we do not know how many citations (references to your NAP) from outside of Google have inconsistencies that affect ranking.

Let’s assume your site has 100 citations from business directories and other sources. Let us assume some have minor discrepancies, such as:

  • Using Ltd at the end of the business name but not for other listings
  • A numerical error in a phone number
  • Upper case postcode or lower case
  • A different business category

If Google displays ranking position based upon accuracy, how many discrepancies does it allow, or how large a discrepancy before having ranking affected?

The Local Pack – The Pack You Want to Be Running With

The local pack are the search results that Google offers you when searching, for example, “Butchers near Me.” An accurate GBP and well-written SEO-optimised details can get you in the pack.

The Local Pack
The Local Pack

 

Now, you will notice that there are two filters: Rating and Hours. By changing these filters, you often get different businesses within the local pack. For example, if I want a butcher open at 10.000 AM on Monday but “T.H Burroughs” is closed that day, Google will remove it from the local pack for my search.

This is why it is now critical to keep accurate business trading days and hours within the Google Business Profile NAP. And for the smart Alecs’ who think it is clever to say you are open 24/7 when you are not, you can be fully de-listed for this for breaching Google’s Terms of Service, so be warned.

Next, We Turn Our Attention to Business Categories.

Google, being American, favours Americanised categories which just do not exist in UK directories. Google suggests you choose a generalised category first and then a more specific category. The problem is, for example, when you run an AirBnB. The closest category would be Bed & Breakfast, but Google then assumes you have hotel-style facilities and requires details of your restaurant opening times and so on.

The best way to deal with this is to keep the number of categories to a minimum. Choose your primary category wisely, and then you have nine more choices for sub-categories. Only use the minimum needed to ensure Google understands what your business does.

Data Aggregators – The Data Suppliers for the Internet

Data aggregators are vital in the local search ecosystem, despite the fact you will probably never have heard of them. They act as key information sources for search engines. Major aggregators like Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup, and Localeze collect and supply data to many of the top listing sites and directories, creating structured citations.

So, you can easily see that accurate data listing with these aggregators is crucial for businesses, as inaccuracies can lead to inconsistencies across multiple sites and directories, adversely affecting SEO and consumer trust.

The truth is that about 73% of consumers lose trust in brands with inaccurate local business listings, highlighting the importance of precise and consistent business data for a strong online presence.

If you are concerned your NAP data is incorrect with any of the aggregators, contact an SEO agency to perform an audit and correct any NAP errors without delay.

Conclusion – Never Dismiss the Importance of Your NAP.

For maximising your local search results, it is imperative that your NAP is up-to-date and accurate. It is advisable to employ an Local SEO agency to set up your Google Business Profile account, as they will utilise SEO techniques to ensure your listing has the maximum impact.

They can then audit your other business listing and citations to give as much consistency as possible and, thereby, the best opportunity for a high ranking into the “local pack.”

Author

  • Mac McCarthy

    Mac McCarthy has been involved in the digital marketing field for over 20 years, having worked with the Jeeves, Alta Vista and Yahoo search engines in the early 90s through to the modern current day Google and Bing platforms.

    A keen follower of search engine algorithm updates and trends, he works and advises on digital strategies for a variety on SME’s and more recently the World Wildlife Fund, the single largest animal welfare charity in the world.

    Qualifications include Google Advanced Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search and the Google Partnership Program.

    View all posts

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