The Benefits of NAP Citations
The most successful companies, regardless of industry, size or location, are most often the ones who either get found first, or are the default choice for people (customers) as their first port of call when they require a particular product or service. If we take the case of Amazon – why is it that so many consumers turn first to them as opposed to A.N. Other, where the products or goods may be cheaper and readily available?
Whilst it is true that the online dominance of Amazon is something far out of the reach of all smaller businesses, there are some lessons here that can be employed by and put to good use by SME’s (small medium size enterprises).
Amazon has over 250,000,000 pages (and counting) indexed in the Google index. This means that Amazon stand a very good chance of coming up in search engines, gaining all important visibility, for many different searches. SME’s, local businesses and retailers will have on average less than 100 pages of content on their website.
So we can deduce that we cannot match the incredible levels of Internet visibility enjoyed by Amazon having millions of pages. What are the options then for a business with a web presence of less than 100 pages? How can we increase our web presence, online visibility and the number of instances when we can be found before the competition?
Pursuing NAP Citations (Name; Address; Phone Number) as part of your digital strategy is an excellent way to increase the reach of your business online. There are three benefits to increasing your collection of valuable NAP citations:
1. Your business will be quickly found on authority and respected directory websites
2. Increased prominence in Google Local listings
3. Uplift in organic local search rankings across Google and Bing
If we address benefit 1 first. The more times your business NAP is listed and can be found by searchers/prospects looking in well-founded Internet directories, the more contacts you will receive. This is a definite. It is true that most searches are now conducted using Google as the first port of call, but don’t dismiss destinations such as Yell.com; 192.com or the BT Phonebook. Importantly potential customers might also be looking here for your business by name!
In benefit 2 above we show that there is a good probability of increased prominence in Google Local/Maps listings by increasing the number of online NAP citations for your business. Search engines are highly likely to take the NAP data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches. In benefit 3 we point to the suggestion that an uplift in organic search listings for local searches i.e. ‘electrician Crawley’ is a possible outcome.
OK, so how to get started with your NAP Citation strategy? Crucially – make sure that your NAP is correct – both on your website as well as on other sites throughout the web. NAP consistency is a critical element of successful local SEO.
It is believed that Google and the other search engines cross-reference your NAP information across a variety of websites as a validation that you are a legitimate business. If you think about it, how many ‘fake’ or ‘spam’ businesses are going to list a physical address and phone number across the Internet?
A crucial factor in successful local SEO is the reputation and trustworthiness of your business in the eyes of the search engines. It is our opinion that consistent NAP Citations are one of the more important elements that search engines use to evaluate the reputation of your company/website.
Right, let’s go out and start listing our business all over the Internet, in every conceivable directory – relevant or not! Let’s spend BIG money on premium listings in as many places as possible!! Wrong. Building NAP Citations correctly is about moving forward with consistency and taking a long term approach. NAP Citations are also about, in my opinion, obtaining FREE listings in respected Internet publications. PAID listings are not the correct approach in this instance.
Lastly, you must NOT confuse NAP Citation building with link building. Remember: citations are just mentions of your name, address, and phone number. To a search engine, they increase your business’s relevance to and prominence in a specific town, city or county. The real value is in the citation itself. The value of links in your listings is simply to strengthen the association of your website with your NAP information.
Paul Brewster, April 2014.