You don't want to ignore the benefits of a good NAP. You just don't want to get caught sleeping when it comes to local search on the Web.
NAP, in this case, stands for Name, Address, Phone number. Ok, that could be NAP'n, but let's keep it simple. After all, it is a simple thing to do to include your name, address and phone number on your website and wherever else potential local customers are looking online for your type of business. It's pretty basic, right?
It's so basic that many businesses don't pay close enough attention to get it right, or rather, to keep it consistent. By being inconsistent, these businesses undercut their chances for high rankings in local and mobile searches.
Be Exact with your NAP
When Google returns the results of those searches, it looks to be sure the business name, address and phone number match EXACTLY. If your NAP isn't an exact match across the web, your ranking falls. It doesn't have to fall very far to fall off Google's map.
By exact, we don't mean close enough that a mail carrier can figure out a letter is going to you. We mean exact. If the business name you use is Top Notch Business LLC, that LLC better be there in every listing of your company name. If you have a phone number in one listing as 555 CALLNOW, but in a second listing it's 555 225-5669, it's the same phone number, but Google's algorithm doesn't see it that way.
You can consistently use both, but don't alternate between the two. Addresses are easy to mess up. Sometimes you write out Street, sometimes you just put St. If your address includes something like Suite 104, be consistent in how you enter it rather than switch off with #104.
This info is one of the cornerstones that make local searches work. Those are the searches where someone uses a mobile device to find the nearest pizza place, or a homeowner needs a plumber in town, or any other search where geographic location is key. But if Google discovers listings that are close but not exact matches, those algorithms conclude these are duplicate listings and delete them from local search sites, such as Google's Local Business Center.
Establish your NAP
You establish your NAP by going to InfoUSA.com, Google+, CitySearch.com, Yahoo.com, and similar listing services and first make sure you exist. Let's face it, if Google doesn't know you, you don't exist. But you can change that by adding your listing at a base level in these directories for free.
You may also find you do have a listing on some of these sites, but they may not match your NAP, or may even give out wrong information about your company. Google's spiders may have picked up your info when it appeared on a site, but if the info is out of date, you can't depend on the G-spiders to fix. Claim the listing, correct any bad info, and make sure the basic information matches your NAP.
Some companies, based on bad advice they received elsewhere, might try to add a keyword to their business name, such as John's Auto Sales Battle Creek and another listing for John's Auto Sales, Marshall. Don't do it. It's a ploy that no longer works and violates Google policies. When the G-spiders discover the violation, your ranking will fall.
For tracking purposes, you may be tempted to use different phone numbers to track results. It may be useful, but the result is also a drop in search rankings. Instead, be accurate, be consistent, and you will lay the groundwork for solid search results and increase your chances for acquiring new local customers.
So, are you done?
No, but do the above and you've made a good start. Now you can go take a nap.
(For links to online directories where you can list your business, go to this link for the 55 Largest Local Business Directories in the US.)