NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local search and local package algorithms, which means that building citations with consistent NAP in your Google Business Profile listing, directories, and other online sites can affect your local rankings.
However, having a consistent NAP is also important to the user journey, as online directories and social bookmarking sites are not only used by Google – humans use them too.
Maintaining a high level of consistency and accuracy reduces the risk of errors being made by search engines mechanically processing the data.
It also reduces the risk of user friction if a potential customer trying to contact your company encounters an incorrect phone number, business hours, or email address.
And if Google came across five different versions of your store’s hours, which version would they believe?
Conflicting information can erode Google’s confidence in your site’s data, which doesn’t mean your listing is considered the best result of a relevant query.
Keeping track of where key business information is listed and how accurate it is can be a difficult task even for a single site.
When you manage multiple locations with multiple addresses and phone numbers, even with enterprise software, it becomes increasingly complex.
This functionality is also changing, now that Google wants business owners to manage their Google Business Profile (GBP) from the Google Maps interface and large multi-location companies from Business Profile Manager.
When the user journey begins
Many people consider that the user journey and brand experience begins when the user makes the first inquiry via phone or email, or when they spend a significant amount of time on the company’s website.
However, the journey begins much sooner.
Google data shows that there is Five points of contact Leads most often to a positive purchase/action from the site:
- Use a search engine.
- You visited a store or other website.
- You visited a retailer’s website or app.
- You visited another website or app.
- Use the map.
A user’s journey begins when they see your brand for the first time either in a search results list, in a local package, on a map, or in your physical store.
This is where a consistent NAP becomes important because users need consistent information in order to progress on their journey.
Often, we assume that users find our business and local brands through our websites, guest posts, outreach, and Google Business Profile listings.
However, users find our brand through a variety of online portals, including directories where we build our citations and listings.
Influencing the user journey in the research phase
When users make their first searches, this is your first chance to make an impression and be part of the user journey.
If you appear prominently in the local package or within SERPs, you want users to click through to content that provides value and meets their user intent.
Lazy local pages help no one
In many cases, when a website is “translated”, this means creating local content and local pages.
They are executed with varying degrees of effort, care, and detail, but the slow local pages are ultimately of no help.
The slow local page is the entrance page; A thin page that offers little value to the user and exists for the sole purpose of trying to rank for local search terms.
Google doesn’t like doorway pages (because they provide poor user experience) and introduced the “Modify Rank” algorithm for the doorway in 2015.
The Possum update in 2016 also went some way to address poor quality and spam, but that’s a tactic that persists. In many sectors, it remains effective (until something better comes along).
Defines the official Google support documentation entries like:
“Sites or pages that are built to rank high for specific search queries. They are harmful to users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in the user’s search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also direct users to intermediate pages Not as useful as the final destination.”
Even if you rewrite all the content on these pages making sure they are not duplicates but all carry the exact same message with a different target city, they provide absolutely no value.
It depends on the particular niche, however, and in some smaller niches, Google may still rank the doorway pages through lack of competition and other viable options.
This boils down to two concepts that Google uses in its quality rater guidelines document: “the useful purpose of the page” and whether the page is “suitable for a query”.
Even if a business does not satisfy the actual local aspects of the query but provides content that indicates that it covers the actual location and provides value (and proposition a positive reputation value) to users searching for X in Y, when Google voids other options that satisfy the preferences for the actual location, it will work Google on content ranking.
Create pages with good local value
Admittedly, it is much easier for businesses that have physical stores in the locations they want to target to create high value local pages.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done for companies that offer an intangible product or service with a local focus.
The Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines define content in two parts:
- Main content.
- Supportive content.
This is how you should look at local search.
When someone in london searches for [plumbers in london]Google has to divide the query into main sections and supporting sections, as well as search intent.
It can do this through capabilities made in Hummingbird and RankBrain updates.
With [plumbers] As an essential part of your query, and from reviewing the search results page for [plumbers]Google sees one dominant interpretation of the query, a person looking for a plumber (service), returning a combination of local business websites, aggregators, a map package (local at my IP), and a local Google service circuit.
[in london] Then is the rate.
It is a secondary signal to enhance the accuracy of Google’s required results.
Add this modifier to me (using [plumbers in horsforth]), Google gave more weight to the data aggregators who list the many plumbing companies in the area and show that individual company sites were discarded.
This makes sense from a user perspective because it gives me easier access to multiple options with one click versus multiple clicks.
The main content of your website should reflect the product/services you offer, while supporting content elements that add value and thematic significance about the site.
This can be done non-commercially through the blog, as guides, or as additional resources.
As mentioned earlier, NAP consistency is as important as directory listings, and search engines don’t just use the citations we build. Potential customers find these details too.
An inconsistent or inaccurate NAP can lead to frustration for users and possibly loss of potential customers.
Common reasons for NAP inconsistency
From experience, NAP inconsistency can be caused by a number of human errors and business changes, including:
- Change of work title and not updating previously created citations, directory listings, etc.
- Having a store address different from the registered address of the company and using both online.
- Generate different phone numbers for referral tracking purposes.
Not only can all of the above reasons cause local SEO issues, but they can also cause a number of UX issues – bad UX leads to lost sales and damage to your brand.
The user experience extends beyond the local package and SERPs to your website, how the local journey is managed, and whether it can satisfy all local intent.
The ability to accurately track and report the success of marketing activities is vital.
However, there is a case of “over-reporting” and “over-attribution” in some cases, especially when it comes to local SEO.
Google Local Bundle: User Experience and Attribution
The Google Local package operates on a different algorithm to traditional organic search results and is strongly influenced by the location of the user when performing the search.
The Google Business Profile has an attribution problem, and many times a lot of clicks from GMB listings are classified as direct visits rather than organic visits in Google Analytics.
The way around this is to use the parameter:
Parameter won’t cause NAP/quote consistency issues, so you don’t have to worry there.
Having a consistent NAP means you are more likely to appear under the Local Pack, and if you are in the Local Pack Studies have shown You are likely to get a high percentage of clicks on the results page.
If you are likely to get a lot of clicks, it means that you will have a lot of users who will expect fast loading pages and prominent information to meet their search goals.
This is a more common problem I’ve encountered on the agency side working, as well as one I’ve been asked to perform while working on the client side.
To track marketing efforts, I’ve known that organizations generate unique phone numbers for each directory in which they present the business.
- Positives: You can fairly accurately measure the return on investment on your marketing efforts.
- Negatives: You end up with a lot of quotes posted with inconsistent NAP.
Also, a lot of directors like to build Google Business Profiles listings based on the data you enter, as a kind of “added service”.
This creates many Business Profile Google listings for individual locations, with different phone numbers and sometimes different pin locations on the map.
This is bad for the user experience, as they are faced with multiple choices for a single site with only one site being correct.
This can be controlled by declaring that the dummy listings are duplicates of another card and asking Google to merge them. See “How to Delete or Merge Duplicate Google Profile Lists” to learn more.
Featured Image: Paolo Bobetta/Search Engine Magazine