Online business citations and the need for consistency in your NAP

Why your online business citations need to be consistent

When it comes to local search engine optimisation NAP consistency is critical. NAP is an acronym for the name, address and phone number of your business. When your business’ NAP is mentioned on the web this is called a citation. Search engines analyse the number and quality of citations your business has to help rank businesses in local search. The more high quality citations your business has, the higher it ranks for local search queries. Search engines also use these citations to help verify the credibility and trustworthiness of your business information, which again can be an important factor in ensuring your business appears high in local search rankings.

Unfortunately inconsistencies in business citations occurs often across the web, particularly if your business has moved location or changed its phone number in the past. A lot of online web directories use company databases to populate their websites, leading to some outdated and potentially harmful information about your business. Even the slightest of variance in a business’ NAP can confuse search engines and stop them from crediting you for a particular listing. For example, consider the two following NAP listings for the same business:

Example 1:
Home Fireplaces Ltd
145 Park Street,
Dundalk,
Co. Louth.
042-4553348

Example 2:
Home Fireplaces
145 Park Lane St,
Dundalk,
Louth.
(042) 455 3348

These citations could be considered two different businesses by a search engine. While search engines will try to correct slight deviations, the more you adhere to a consistent NAP the more likely you are to avoid search rank penalties.

When it comes to citing your business online choose one standard format for your business name, address and phone number and stick with it. If you haven’t already, set up a Google+ local business page and verify it. My advice is to use the NAP format that you have on your Google+ business page since it is the format that we know Google prefers. Next, do a quick Google search of your business name to find what directories you’re already listing on. Most of these will have a ‘claim this listing’ link. Follow the steps outlined and edit the information to match the NAP format on your Google+ page. If the website doesn’t have a direct function for editing your listing, look for an email address of the webmaster and ask them to change the listing manually. Below is a list of ten prominent directories for Irish businesses that you should be on:

The above directories are just a starting point, there are many more you should check out. Certain industries may have specific directories such as build.ie or interiorsdirectory.com. You should find one that relates to your industry and add your business. These are good citations to have as the website has increased relevance to your business. Similarly, if there are directories specific to your location, such as county council business directories, these are also highly relevant to list on.

This can be a tedious and timely process but it is well worth it. It should increase the number of the citations your business has while also increasing the credibility of your business in the eyes of search engines. Most importantly it will help your business rank higher in local search and ultimately generate more online leads and sales.

Connor McCarra

Connor is studying Marketing, Innovation and Technology at Dublin City University. He's a freelance web developer and online marketer with an interest in all things technology and mobile. You'll find him tweeting at @connormccarra.

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