In this latest series of blogs, we’ve been discussing what you can do on your website and outside of it to boost your search rankings. Today, let’s dig deep into local citations – which are also sometimes called NAP, which stands for Name, Address and Phone number.
What is a local citation or NAP?
A local citation or NAP is the mention of your business’ accurate name, correct address (preferably with a Google Maps location and driving instructions) as well as a verified phone number on which you can be reached. It is very important to display your NAP both on your own website as well as social media pages, and, of course, on Google’s business listings itself.
If backlinks (the first step in Off-page SEO) are links on external sites that lead users to your site, then your NAP is how they can know:
- That you are a verified business
- Your location
- Your timings
- Other details about your business
Why is NAP so important?
Many users report that they didn’t visit a company or book a service because they couldn’t find relevant or accurate information about them online. In other words, that company didn’t have a proper local citation or NAP.
Further, Google1 itself says:
“To maximize how often users find your business in local search results, ensure that your business information in Google My Business is accurate, complete, and engaging.”
You can find a link to the main Google My Business site at the end of this blog.2
The reason why this is so important is because users prefer to search for products or services in their vicinity. In fact, Moz research revealed that local citations figure among the top 5 factors that influence your search ranking.3 Having said that, we must note that that survey was conducted 2 years ago – local search has only become more important since then.
What details must be included in my local citation?
Let’s again take the information from the mother source itself: Google. According to the search engine giant, an accurate Google My Business listing includes:
- Company name
- Physical address
- Phone number
- Business category
These last two are not essential, but provide the user with a lot more information. Google insists that every business should have a primary category that’s as accurate as possible. For example, ‘North Indian Restaurant’ is far more accurate than just ‘Restaurant’.
However, never put your category as something you’ve invented or coined for your business. It may sound snazzy but isn’t a proper category – ‘Foodie heaven’, for example.
Similarly, you can list as many attributes as you like. These include factors like ‘has Wi-Fi’, ‘valet parking available’, ‘credit cards accepted’, and so on. Google also allows you to list ‘subjective’ attributes, such as whether your product or service is popular with other users.
Where else should I list my local citations?
So far, we’ve spoken about three locations where your NAP must be present and accurate: your website, your social media pages, and Google My Business.
Other than this, it would be immensely helpful if your company information were listed on as many relevant, verified directories as possible. This includes local business listings such as Yellow Pages, industry-specific directories and networks, and aggregators (like Zomato for restaurants).
Some top tips
Here are some key tips to get your NAP done right:
- Google values consistency above everything. So make sure your NAP and local citations are given the exact same way in every listing.
- Use the approved names for all locations – for example, if your office is located in Gulf Building (say), don’t abbreviate it to ‘Gulf Bdg’ or ‘Gulf Bldg’. That’s not an accepted abbreviation. The same goes for St, Ave, etc. It’s always better to use the full words – ‘Street’, ‘Avenue’.
- Make sure everything is spelled correctly. We can’t stress this enough: there are many businesses that have lost customers because they didn’t spell out their locations or write out their numbers correctly. This frustrates someone searching for your location on Google Maps or dialing your number.
- Make sure your local citation info is updated whenever there is any change. This may be something as simple as showing you’re closed on such and such a day or changed timings during a religious festival, to a complete change of address or phone number.
If you do all these things right, you’ve gone one more step towards making your business and your website foolproof. And every little bit helps.
1. Google Support, Improve your local ranking on Google