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Local SEO At It's Best - (read closely, this is the most important information when selecting REAL & EFFECTIVE SEO assistance)
There are one too many acronyms when it comes to digital marketing and local search. There’s SERP, CTA, CRO, and NAP - and those are but a few of them. You probably heard about NAP the most, and it’s simply because it’s an essential part of local web search. Plenty of beginners panic when they hear about NAP, as it sounds incredibly complicated. But don’t worry! It’s not near as bad as it might seem.
Now, even though NAP is rather straightforward, this doesn’t mean it comes without nuances - like NAP consistency. Understanding what NAP is about is easy. But what’s going to take you into the next level is understanding the little bits and pieces NAP is all about.
In 2018, Moz (a company you probably heard about if you know about online marketing) listed NAP-related elements twice in its top 5 local pack ranking factors. NAP consistency was ranked fifth in their top five rated citation signals and NAP presence within on-page signals was ranked fourth most important ranking factor.
NAP consistency is important for both search engine algorithms and consumer perception of your brand. These two elements will dictate whether your consumer-base has a positive or negative experience with your business. Yes, understanding NAP is easy - but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
What does NAP mean?
Name, Address and Phone number. That’s what NAP stands for. Each one of those items is a fundamental piece of information on their own. But if you combine all three, it’s what makes or breaks your business relationship with a customer.
A good thing about NAP is that it occurs naturally. Your regular marketing activity is what’s going to build your NAP listing - there’s no need to go out of your way to do it. What you would naturally do for your brand is what creates a good NAP listing.
For example, when you open a Facebook business page and fill in the details requested, that’s when you’ve successfully created a NAP citation. Let’s say you want to host an event and use social media to promote it - that’s another NAP citation for you to have.
In the same fashion, having another person or company mentionsyour business online will give you a NAP mention without extra effort.
Does NAP include your website?
NAP mentions can happen in a lot of ways and spaces:
- Social media
- High PR directories
- Blog articles
- Reviews, etc.
That’s the key place where you’ll mention everything related to your business - including name, address, and phone number. It doesn’t matter whether they are together or on different pages across your site. It still counts as a NAP citation.
With having that in mind, you need to take extra attention when it comes to referencing your name, address, and phone number on your site. And you’ll have to do the same when you are building NAP citations or simply providing contact information someplace else.
How can NAP become inconsistent?
Many people fall into the trap of intentionally looking to build citations - but it’s something that naturally occurs when you are creating content online. It’s easy to get lost and neglect NAP consistency when you are trying to build up as many citations as you can.
NAP consistency is a byproduct of your work, not the other way around.
A huge issue when it comes to NAP consistency is in format. When you are constantly inputting NAP data across several different platforms and websites, you are bound to be inconsistent with your format. This is not something hard to fathom, especially when you consider you will probably set up a social media profile first and purchase a directory listing right after.
Another thing to have in mind is you won’t be the only one creating citations. If someone writes an article about your business, he might use different formatting when it comes to your address or use the wrong zip code - that’s where inconsistency happens as well. They might use the everyday name of your company and not the correct LLC name, and you’ve got another inconsistency in your hands.
If you are working with a third party (e.g., a marketing company), they might be inputting NAP data differently. And that might be inconsistencies constantly happening. We keep it consistent
Why does NAP need to be consistent?
NAP is a ranking factor. The more consistent that it is, the better it will work for you. It’s also very important when you want to build confidence with your customer base.
When it comes to local SEO strategy, the very first thing you want to do is build high-quality citations for your business. Great citations can make or break your customers’ trust and decide your search ranking’s fate.
NAP is a ranking factor.
You’ve already read how important NAP information is. It’s a two-time top-five ranking factor. It’s great for citation signals and on-page signals, both things crucial when it comes to a strong presence.
The other three important factors are link signals, review signals, and Google My Business signals (this one includes NAP). Social media signals, personalization, and behavioral signals are all deemed less important than NAP.
Several studies back up this data. All businesses in local pack rankings’ top 10 have an average of 81 citations. The 10th spot is held by businesses with an average of 75 citations. The number one spot is for businesses with an average of 86 citations. The more citations you can build, the better your business will rank.
Most search engines, Google included, use citations to gather information. The more data a search engine can get, the better it will understand a business. Search engines benefit from more, better, and consistent information - and in turn, they will benefit your brand.
If your NAP information is consistent throughout the internet, it’ll be taken as accurate information - in return, search engines will give that information to its users. If your NAP information isn’t consistent, you’ll be red-flagged and your trust and rankings will hinder.
Accurate NAP makes the likelihood of appearing in voice search higher.
Google claims that users adopted voice search faster than any other type of technology since the smartphone. When 2020 it’s over, more than 75 million people will own smart speakers. That’s over 450% increase since 2016 where only 16 million people owned smart speakers. And that’s without considering smartphones, who have voice search included.
This is really important. Both mobile search and voice search are closely related. A lot of smartphone owners use voice search today, especially when they’re looking for a business.
Voice search will carry more than 50% of all internet searches by December 2020. Several studies show that over 80% of answers returned from a voice search were taken from a top three organic search results. With this in mind, having accurate NAP information becomes really important.
NAP consistency is important for consumer trust.
Words are not enough to emphasize how important NAP consistency is. Especially for consumer trust. Studies show 90% of consumers become frustrated with incorrect information in online directories.
The time window between a consumer doing a local search and visiting the store is small. Almost 90% of customers who use their smartphone to do a local search will visit a store in less than a week.
If you have inconsistent or (even worse) incorrect NAP data, you will lose potential customers. Traveling to the wrong address is more than enough for a customer to never think about a business ever again. Or they might not consider it altogether if they have to do more than one search to find the business’ address.
Correct and consistent NAP information takes care of this problem entirely.
NAP consistency sets the tone for the consumer journey and path to purchase.
According to Google, over 95% of people use their smartphones when they need to get something done. 87% of them will use a search engine to look for a business before they call. For a customer, a quick google search is the first step before making a purchase.
A potential customer is as likely to find a social media profile, a Google My Business profile or an article about your business as much as your website. They are all discovery portals. And it’s of the utmost importance for all of them to have your business’ NAP information right.
By having the right NAP data, you are making the customer get closer to the purchase goal-line. Incorrect data will remove him from the play altogether. And most users will blame the business itself for incorrect information instead of the directory site.
Inconsistent NAP data could mean you’re losing customers you may not know you had.
90% of customers will look up an address before they first visit a business. Without consistent NAP data, you are losing a big number of potential customers. If a would-be customer wants to visit your business but finds two different addresses online, they will probably forget about it altogether instead of trying to find the right place.
If a customer has the wrong address but drives there anyway, they are more likely to find a business that is near that location instead of trying to find the right address for the business they were first going.
The better your NAP information is, the more customers you will get - and the fewer you’ll lose.
NAP data is a fundamental piece in consumer trust and search engine visibility. It can make or break your search engine ranking. It'll be the foundation where your customers will build trust with your brand, or the weapon that destroys it altogether.
If you want your business to succeed, taking care of your NAP consistency is a great way to do it. It’s like keeping your door open for customers to come in.
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