When most people think of a nap, they might think about a lazy Sunday afternoon, catching up on some sleep after traveling, or what you need about an hour after Thanksgiving dinner. When it comes to your business, NAP has an entirely new meaning. NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. In the SEO world, having a consistent NAP in your citations or online listings is vital. It’s the foundation for your practice’s online marketing strategy.
How do search engines find your practice’s contact information?
When you first open your practice and start creating your online profiles (Google My Business, Facebook, etc.), your contact information finds its way into an online business data ecosystem. Companies such as Google, Yelp, Microsoft (Bing), and social media channels use their algorithms to “crawl” the internet for a business’ data and add it to their respective databases. Once your information has made its way online, other search engines and data providers also use this practice information for their records. You may have also noticed your information shows up on other directories such as Foursquare, Yahoo, Waze, etc—even though you have not created a listing on that specific website. To put it simply, your business information is absolutely everywhere on the internet and there is very little you can do to stop that. You can, however, make sure this information is as accurate as possible.
So why is this important?
Having a consistent NAP is important because this is how prospective patients find and contact you when searching online. It’s also important because Google and other searches place a big emphasis on consistent information as a ranking factor for your website. Search engines use their algorithm to crawl the internet for any mentions of your business information and compare it to other sources such as public records, business licenses, telephone records, and even post office records. They then take this information and compare it to your Google business listing to see if they are consistent. The more consistent your listings, the more Google will trust your website and your business.
Google’s most recent algorithm update also places a heavier emphasis on providing more localized results for searches. You have probably noticed that when you are searching online before Google shows you results, they first show a list of businesses beneath a map. This is Google’s way of giving you the best local results. The more listings Google and other search engines can find with the exact same information (e.g. no variations like “St.” versus “Street”), the more likely you are to appear in those local searches.
So, before you start thinking about things like keywords, website content, link building, and other SEO practices to help propel your website up on the search rankings, take care of the most basic information about your business—your NAP!
Whether you manage a single local listing or hundreds, the consistency of your NAP data across the web can either help grow your business or serve as a barrier to customer discovery. Find out right now if there are any accuracy issues with your NAP and speak with an SEO Specialist about how we can help you take control of your online brand across 60+ digital services through Sesame SEO, which leverages a powerful tool that manages the most important information about your business.
— John Lee, SEO Specialist, Sesame Communications