Local Citations: Why It’s Important to Take a NAP

Our title contains a rather poor pun, but even poor puns can be memorable.

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. When it comes to establishing your company’s website as an “authority” on the web, it’s imperative that the company name, address, and phone number are present, and present consistently, in any location where your website is listed – or “cited.” Companies are “cited” in online directories like Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor.  There are hundreds of national and local directories and these are the equivalent of the Yellow Pages and Yellow Books of the past.

Online directories are the Yellow Pages on steroids. The more directories which have your business website (and other details) listed, the more it will be rewarded by Google in the form of ranking points.

Directory Listings for the Benefit of Customers

While that’s important, it’s also important from a potential customer/client standpoint. Having a citation in an online directory gives your company gravitas with your client/customer base. Just as your base will expect you to have a Facebook account that is updated on a regular basis, so too will they expect to find your company in local and even national web directories.

If they look for your business in a directory they trust and it does not appear or the information is inaccurate, they will wonder why. And just may elect not to become your customer as a result. If they’re just browsing through a directory they trust and your company isn’t there at all – then they may very well find your competition before they find you.

So, getting your company website listed in as many directories as possible makes sense from a business standpoint. Now let’s talk about directories from an SEO standpoint.

Why Local Citations for SEO matter

Directory listings are just another form of link building, and the more backlinks your website has, the better Google and other search engines like it.

We mentioned Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor previously. Those are national directories with a local presence. But practically every city and geographic region will also have local, ‘hyper’ directories – business directories specific to that area. (Do a search on “Local business directory [your city]” to find out how many local directories there are in your area.)

Local citations for SEO simply means that your business is listed in as many of these hyper directories as possible, so that when search engines crawl the web, your site will be rewarded with ranking points.

Well…there’s a catch there. The directories must be high-quality directories, with an established PageRank, to be rewarded by search engines, and especially Google. (PageRank can be a confusing term, by the way. It doesn’t refer to the page of a website, but Larry Page, one of the founders of Google.)

Building Local Citations for SEO

Many directories “scrape” the web and add business listings to it automatically. It’s important for the NAP to be the same in all directories – Google gives no rewards otherwise! For example, if one directory gives an address that spells out the word Street, and it is abbreviated to St. in a different directory, that will raise a red flag for Google.

Other keys to NAP:

  • Ensure the Name is the same across all directories – not listed as “company” in one spot and “co.” in another.
  • If possible, use a physical Address rather than a P.O. box
  • Provide a local phone number as well as a 1-800 number.

All business directories that list your site – whether you submit them or they were “scraped” by the directory itself – should be visited to ensure that all information is accurate. Many directories allow the business owner to “claim” the listing, so that they can go in and make any corrections needed. This is a time-consuming process which is why it’s best to let your SEO agency handle it on your behalf.

The benefits of having your company, and its website, listed in as many business directories as possible, are clear. They will provide a boost to your site ranking, a boost to the site’s status as an “authority” in your business niche, and a boost to the number of people who become aware of you and thus potentially become new customers or clients.