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When we refer to Local SEO, what we're actually talking about is the accruement of Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) accounts. Every site where your business is listed with its official business name, address, and phone number is considered an NAP account in the eyes of search engines.
NAP accounts are important locally because they place you geographically for online users. If you run a decking business, and people in your area are searching for a deck builder, the more NAP accounts you have listing you within that geographic area will translate into a greater likelihood that your service pops up first. Likewise, if you have few to no NAP accounts, or if the NAP accounts that exist have wildly differing information, then the likelihood of your website popping up organically within a search is much smaller.
Getting organic traffic is oftentimes easier to accomplish than you think if you're focusing on a particular geographic location. Running an audit on your existing NAP accounts is the first step towards accomplishing this.
DIY Option for NAP Citation Audit
No budget for Local SEO? No worries!
There are many ways you can go about this on your own. The one thing to remember before diving headlong into the mix is that your citation audit MUST precede your NAP account creation. In other words, you really do need to know what you're up against before you start to create business accounts across the internet.
If your business has been around for a while, the likelihood that you have NAP accounts you don't even know about is HIGH. If a portion of those have names, addresses, or phone numbers that don't match it can upset the entire applecart until you streamline your identity.
There are a number of places you can research your NAP account presence online. Here are just a few:
Google Search - Yes, sometimes life really is that easy. A simple set of queries for your name, address, and phone number should retrieve a relatively high number of the most important NAP accounts.
Merchant Circle - Merchant Circle is a widely underused tool that specializes in pairing businesses with geographic locations. As such, it is an excellent resource for locating your listings (both known and unknown).
YellowBot - YellowBot is perhaps a better known tool that, like Merchant Circle, does an excellent job of matching businesses to geography.
There are plenty more places to look, but the above should get you started. If you feel like you're ready and everything looks the same, it's time to add to your NAP account ledger.
DIY Option for NAP Account Creation
Creating NAP accounts is surprisingly straightforward. The only tricky part is in knowing where to register your business. There are numerous listings you may want to create, so we highly recommend keeping track via an excel spreadsheet (or whatever you're most used to). That way you can plan ahead for the ones you'd like to create, as well as check them off as you've completed each listing.
What follows is a list of usual suspects you should consider when creating your NAP accounts:
Google My Business-If you're starting from scratch, you'll likely want to start here. This is where you'll retain the power to control how your business is listed on Google. Make sure to add your location to Google Maps so you show up on local searches.
Yelp - Yelp is an excellent place to list your business for reviews (as long as you're willing). It also acts as a perfect NAP account - the high ranking paired with a proper listing of your details acts as a catalyst for search engine indexation.
TripAdvisor - TripAdvisor is another easy win for creating a highly functioning NAP account with minimal effort. Even if you feel as though your business doesn't belong here, it's worth putting forth a listing. Remember, with NAP accounts your goal is the listing itself and the higher ranking it will elicit.
FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube - If you don't yet have a social media presence, please reconsider. It will be worth your time, if for only the NAP account you'll gain. We'd highly suggest you get into the habit of creating content on these channels whenever you're able to, but again, the NAP account alone is worth your time.