If you are investing in local SEO, you will need to ensure that your NAP listings are consistent across every place you list your business. What is a NAP listing? NAP stands for name, address and phone number. These details may not seem hugely important, but without them, you may find that you battle to rank, even if your on-site SEO and outreach efforts are on form.

Why are NAP listings so important? And, more to the point, how can they make or break your local SEO efforts?

How NAP Listings Help Local SEO

Whether you have listed your business on a few review sites, changed numbers or addresses without updating your listing information or you simply do not use one name consistently, how you list your business makes a huge impact on local SEO.

Why is NAP consistency so important for SEO?

Search engines rely hugely on reputation, trust and accuracy. Essentially, search engines are there to help people find information online. When that information is not accurate, the result is that the search engine displays incorrect information. If you want to rank, you will need to ensure that you are listed as accurately as possible.

To give you an example of how inconsistent NAP listings can affect your ranking, consider the following scenario:

Bob makes biltong from home, selling at a small shop in the Cape Town CBD. Bob listed himself on Google My Business as Biltong by Bob when he first set up shop, with his contact details listed as Shop 12, 110 Strand Street, Cape Town City Centre, 8001, 021 424 555. A while later, he listed on Yellowpages and Yelp. This time, he gave his business name as Bob’s Biltong, and his address as 110 Strand Street, Cape Town. Over the years, as Bob began to get his name out there, he created even more listings, many of which had different information to the original one on Google My Business.

What happens now is that search engines think that there is more than one biltong shop. Because this information was not consistent, Bob ends up losing out to his biggest competitor, Frank. His site gets placed lower in the SERPs, and his SEO efforts wind up being a waste of time.

How do you know whether your NAP listings are consistent?

You can try entering your name into the search engine along with your city (eg. Biltong by Bob, Cape Town) to see what comes up. If you see more than one variation, such as Bob’s Biltong, for instance, you will know that your listings are not consistent.

How can you fix inconsistent NAP listings?

Although it is time consuming, it is possible to fix your NAP listings. This is extremely important if you want to rank. You will need to update your listings on every site that you are listed. The simplest way to avoid this stress is to create a database of places you are listed along with your login details.

You could also consider hiring an SEO specialist to assist with local SEO, which would also give you the best chance of ranking locally in a way that follows best practice.

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