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What Is the NAP Abbreviation For and What Is Its Value to Local SEO?

NAP is an acronym standing for Name, Address, and Phone number. In the context of SEO for brick-and-mortar businesses, this refers to how physical location information is cataloged for your business online. Search engines like Google will try to find clear signals about a business’s location and contact information in order to present local results and maps with confidence. NAP information is drawn both from the business’s website and from off-site listings, often known as local citations, that describe the same business.

NAP is a simple, but vital component of your business’s online presence, as you want people to be able to easily find and contact you. NAP data can be a core ranking factor for local SEO, and this information will ideally show up in an information box on the right margin of the SERP when you search for a business.

Why Is NAP Information Important?

The primary reason NAP listings are important is because they are valuable to customer experience. However, that is not the only value NAP listings have. As previously stated, they actually have some pretty crucial implications for your local SEO efforts.

NAP is a simple way to digitize information about the physical world and offers a quick, direct way for search engines to validate brick-and-mortar business locations so they can be presented accurately in local SERPs via features like maps or a local carousel. Getting your business’s NAP indexed correctly on your site and across your various citations on the web (review sites, social media platforms, directories, etc) ensures that customers can find your business online, Google Maps or similar apps can catalog directions to your business, and search engines can better understand when your site deserves to be featured in the SERPs for searches using “near me” and similar, high-volume, location-based search terms.

How Google Interprets NAP

Google identifies the NAP information for your business across all relevant web pages. It will first look for NAP information on a business’s site, and then will compare that information with the business’s local citations and backlinks. When the NAP information is consistent, Google interprets this to mean that the business does have a physical location and that the listed location information is correct and up-to-date. Essentially, Google is trying to determine what the business’s current location is in order to provide optimal SERPs. If the business’s website does not reflect the most up-to-date information, they may have difficulty ranking for relevant local searches.

Google is not only choosing top search results based on proximity (how close a relevant business is to a searcher), but also based on its confidence that the location exists, and that the information about the business’s location is accurate. Even if there are “closer” results, Google may favor a result that has more NAP citations or other indications of legitimacy and relevance. There would be no value to searchers if Google presented a business that appeared closer, but had recently moved or had listed an incorrect address.

Citation-Building

Because consistent citations are so vital in convincing Google that your NAP information is relevant, it may be worthwhile for a business to build citations. Citation-building refers to the overall process of providing basic information (such as NAP) about your business online and is one of many important factors to consider for local search. Again, a key element here is consistency. Consistent business listings are not only useful to your audience but are also useful to Google in terms of verifying that you are a real business. Therefore, it is extremely worth your while to ensure that your local citations are well-managed and frequently updated. Citation-building is a simple way that you can supplement other means of building credibility and authority for your domain, such as link-building campaigns.

Local Citations vs. Backlinks

A local citation is a listing on an external website that provides relevant information about your business. This is useful because Google can use that information as a cross-reference with other similar information available about your business online, in order to assess the information’s legitimacy and relevance. Backlinks, on the other hand, are links on external websites that point to your website. The value of this is the authority it can lend to your website. Google may interpret another website linking to you as an indication that your website is authoritative and trustworthy. This boost to your authority may give you an edge against local competitors.

While backlinks are a crucial ranking factor for search in general, when you have a business or other entity with a physical location, it is at least equally important to prioritize local citations that can help validate your location information and help search engines understand where you are, and which searchers you are near.

How to Use NAP Information to Its Full Effect

In order to make sure that your NAP information is benefitting your local SEO efforts as much as possible, you should take the following steps:

  • Update your NAP information regularly (especially if your business is new, has moved locations, or opened new branches);
  • Ensure your NAP information is consistent and clearly labeled across your website;

Local SEO

 

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