We’ve said time and time again that getting your NAP straight and getting a handle on your citations across the web (and building more) is an increasingly essential component of an effective web presence for a local home energy business like yours.
And it appears as if there's now another reason to take control of your listings across the web: NAP Spam. While that may sound like a delicious afternoon snack, it's actually an important thing to avoid.
What is a NAP? What are Citations?
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number, and citations are the places across the web where your NAP appears. It’s like your fingerprint across the internet, and the more it appears, the better. That is, as long as it is accurate and consistent.
For more info about what your NAP is, and what citations mean for your web presence and your business, check out the following posts:
- NAP Time: Is your Name, Address and Phone Number consistent everywhere?
- The New York Times, Hackers, and the Importance of Citations
What is NAP Spam?
You may be aware of comment spam, where people leave "spammy" comments on blog posts that have nothing to do with the content on the page. They link back to a spammy website; and while they don't do any good for the blog post or web page they're left on, they do provide a link to the spammy website, improving that site's search rankings. Google and other search engines have been cracking down on this type of spam, and it's not as rampant now as it was even a year or two ago.
NAP spam is when a spammy website uses the NAP (name, address, phone number) of somebody else's business to improve the SEO of their own site. On directories like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Yellowpages, etc., they'll submit somebody else's business information but link back to their own site. The info of the existing business helps the website appear legitimate, although it's not.
The good news is that Google appears to be taking action to crack down on NAP spam. The bad news is that as they adjust their search algorithm, small local businesses like those in the home performance industry may run the risk of being flagged as NAP spam; and consequently, it's vital to make sure your directory listings across the web follow best practices.
What You Should Do:
- Make sure your business info is absolutely consistent wherever it is listed.
- Avoid using terms like "best," "cheap," and other terms that may be classified as "spammy" in your business name.
- Search for your business info in Google; anywhere where your NAP appears in a directory, make sure that you have control over it, that it's accurate, and that it links to your site and not a spam site.
This is a new development and it's unclear whether there will be other implications for local SEO, but we'll keep you posted on any updates.