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Local SEO and NAP consistency are vital to your firm’s search visibility. 80% of consumers use search engines to find local information. Businesses that don’t optimise their online presence for local search thus risk missing out on a large proportion of their potential customers.
This guide highlights the importance of local SEO and NAP consistency in particular, providing practical tips on changes that your business can implement. It also addresses the implications for firms who use a call tracking service and explains how you can avoid ranking penalties for using dynamic numbers.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimising your brand’s online content for local searches (search queries that specify a local context, such as “coffee shops near me”). To identify which information and businesses are relevant to a local search, Google makes use of indicators such as any online content with area-specific subject matter, online citations with addresses, and business social media profiles.
Companies that can optimise for local search will benefit in a number of ways. Studies suggest that searches with a local focus often have much higher purchase intent behind them: marketing research company, Burke, found that 75% of all local searches resulted in an offline store visit within the next 24 hours. Local searches are also much more likely to be conducted on-the-go via mobile, so businesses that rank highly in these searches will profit from increased passing trade.
The importance of local SEO for companies with physical stores is clear. So how can businesses seek to improve their local SEO and rank more highly for local searches?
Google My Business
One of the most significant changes you can implement is to make the most of Google My Business. This allows you to create an online profile for your business with important information such as your phone number, location, contact information, and website. With a business profile on Google, your company could appear in a panel on local search results and in the Google Maps listings.
Google only wants to show real businesses with verified physical locations on local searches. Having a profile on Google My Business helps to clarify that your business is genuine and will aid your performance in searches with a local focus. You can improve your profile – and your local SEO – by encouraging customers to review you on Google and responding to all reviews with location-specific comments such as “Thank you for your feedback on [your company] in [location]”. Posting regularly from your account will also help.
Other Local SEO Ranking Factors
There are many other local SEO ranking factors, each of which provides you with an opportunity to enhance your local SEO. Make sure that you are listed in as many online directories and free business listing sites as possible. There are lots of different directories available and listings with all of your up-to-date company information serve as local citations, improving your performance in local searches. If you have multiple business locations, make sure that you have a page devoted to each of these on your site.
Any factor that impacts your overall SEO will also improve your local search rankings. You can refine your on-page SEO in many different ways, for example by improving your internal linking structure and using relevant target keywords in your title tags, headers, content, and URLs. Making sure that the pages on your site load quickly is important, too (use Google’s PageSpeed checker to check this and find suggestions for improvement). From an off-page perspective, obtaining links to your site from relevant sites with high authority will also boost your local SEO.
What Is NAP Consistency?
Name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistency is amongst the most important factors for local SEO. All online references to your firm’s NAP information must be consistent. This means checking all of your online citations, directory listings, and website to ensure that updated information is provided. You can find all of your local citations by using Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder. If there are duplicate citations on any of the directories, then remove the outdated citation – duplicate citations not only confuse prospects, but they also confuse Google and will harm your local SEO.
Why Is NAP Consistency Important for Local SEO?
As with your Google My Business Profile, NAP consistency ensures that Google will perceive your business as genuine, contactable, and with a real physical address. Before providing a local search user with the details of your business, Google wants to ensure that all of this information is correct and up-to-date.
When Google can find lots of online citations that confirm the same business name, address, and phone number, these citations serve as signals that this information can be trusted – in turn, the business will be more likely to rank highly for local queries. Equally, if there are citations with NAP details that don’t match up, Google will perceive the business as less credible. NAP inconsistencies can therefore undermine your local SEO efforts.
Do Dynamic Numbers Affect NAP?
What Are Dynamic Numbers?
Explaining what dynamic numbers are is probably a good place to start. Call tracking works by providing users with a business phone number based on the particular marketing channel they are interacting with – this enables businesses to determine the source of calls and work out which of their marketing efforts are most effective at generating calls. The numbers that are dynamically inserted into your ads or pages online are referred to as dynamic numbers.
How Can Dynamic Numbers Affect NAP?
If Google finds several different dynamic numbers online that do not match the NAP details listed on your site, then this can hurt your local SEO performance. More long term problems can occur if inconsistent NAP details are picked up by third-party data providers and the wrong phone number is provided for your business elsewhere.
How Can You Track Calls Without Affecting NAP?
This works by determining the user agent before displaying an online touchpoint – the dynamic number for your marketing campaign will only be shown if the URL has a tracking code that links it to the campaign. As a result, only visitors that have come from the specific ad campaign source will be provided with a dynamic phone number. Using this method, Calltracks can ensure that your local SEO is not hindered by using the service.