Incorrect information shared online can have negative consequences for your local business. In the case of NAP (name, address, and phone number) citations, any inaccuracy or inconsistency can threaten your local search presence and harm consumer trust in your business.
What is NAP consistency?
NAP consistency refers to your business name, address, and phone number being the same across all of your online citations.
Whether on your Facebook page, a business directory or a review platform, there should be complete uniformity in how your data is shared.
Something as simple as a missing digit from your zip code or phone number can spiral into a bigger problem. This is because these errors create variations of your information, and this erodes consistency.
Why is NAP consistency important for SEO?
NAP data may appear so simple as not to warrant much importance, but when it comes to SEO, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Local SEO Ranking Factors Survey confirms citations as a top-five ranking factor for both the Local Pack and organic search results. Consistency and accuracy must be on point for the data to benefit search engines and human readers.
Outdated or Incorrect Citations Can Impact Search Visibility
To verify that its impression of a local business is correct, Google requires a sufficient pool of data.
Many citations with identical NAP information can signal to Google that what it knows about a business is correct. This also indicates that it’s safe to provide that information to search users.
However, warning bells sound if there are differences in NAP data from one citation to the next. To Google, inaccuracies suggest that some of the data is wrong, meaning it can’t trust that search users are being served reliable information. As a result, rankings can suffer.
Inconsistent NAP Harms Voice Search Visibility
Google needs to be confident that your business information is accurate when populating traditional search results, and it also requires that same trust for other forms of search results, including voice search.
Voice search can represent a significant source of traffic to your local business, so the importance of this should not be underestimated.
Comscore data confirms that smart speaker ownership is at an all-time high, with almost one in two households having at least one smart speaker device.
SEMRush has revealed that two in five adults use voice search at least once per day and that the results are typically from the first page of the organic SERPs. The data shows that 80% of voice search results are sourced from positions one to three, while 97% of results are drawn from the top ten results.
We know that NAP data is a notable organic search ranking factor and having consistent information means you’re also much more likely to be ranked well in voice search.
Local citations can be the starting point for the consumer journey – but only if they’re accurate
Any discovery of your business name, address and contact information can be the starting point for the consumer journey.
For many consumers, especially those using mobile devices, that journey will begin with a search engine.
However, that doesn’t always mean that a consumer will click on your website. for example, we know that 31% of search users will select an organic search result because it offers them a list of businesses, which will likely be a review site or directory listing. However, they could also click through to an informative article, a social media post, or a Google Business Profile.
Whatever the point of call, you need your information to be accurate if you’re to have any hope that they’ll continue on that path to purchase. If your phone number is incorrect and they can’t get in touch to see if you stock a particular brand, for example, they’ll abandon that path and turn to one of your competitors.
Inaccurate Citations Spell Disaster for Consumer Trust
First impressions matter. If the first impression a consumer has of your brand is that the street address they found leads them to the wrong location, you can guarantee you’ll get off on the wrong foot.
In addition to the inconvenience that incorrect data causes, research shows that consumers hold the business responsible for that error. 93% of consumers are frustrated by incorrect information on online directories, and 80% say they will lose trust due to inconsistent contact details.
Consistent NAP Leads to More Referral Traffic
Consistent business information is the backbone of higher local search and voice search rankings and funnels consumers along the path to purchase. Therefore, it’s a significant factor in the volume of referral traffic your business receives.
The higher the level of consistency you can achieve across your local citation profile, the greater the level of trust search engines and consumers can build. This makes your website more discoverable, sets the right tone for the consumer relationship, and encourages searchers to call, click, or visit.
How do you measure NAP consistency?
You can manually gauge your NAP consistency or use an automated tool. If you opt to check manually, you’ll need to hunt down all your citations and study each in turn. Pay particular attention to review sites, directory listings, your social media profiles, and your Google Business Profile.
How consistent should your NAP citations be?
Today’s search engine algorithms are very smart, so you don’t need to worry about minor details, such as using slightly different abbreviations in your listings. For example, Google will understand that ‘No.’ and ‘#’ are the same thing. Ditto for ‘Street’ and ‘St’.
Rather than focusing on these formatting matters, concentrate instead on the essential details such as always using your correct business address and phone number.