DAMMIT ! When I Tell You Something, PAY ATTENTION! So a few months back this other Local SEO consults with me on why his client is only Letter "D" in the Local SERPs. He says he's done "everything" and still his client's listing doesn't budge. He's got the local competition beat by every metric he can think of, and is considering the possibility that the Local Search Results are (his word) "random". So, after a brief look-see, I learn that he is for the most part correct. There is parity in all the metrics I can think of too, which made me start to think about the possibility that instead of failing to "move upward", perhaps his client is being "held back". It's not the absence of a positive, it's the presence of a negative. Maybe his NAP is inconsistent. 1st thing: Do a Google Search of the address, to see if there are multiple businesses trying to rank locally using the same address. Nope. 2nd thing: Do a Google Search of the phone number. Use the (xxx) yyy-zzzz format. SURPRISE. More than half of the 1st two pages of results of a search of my friend's client's phone number has Ms. Phallacia Rottentwat's business associated with it in the local citations. After doing some research into Ms. Rottentwat's business, it appears that she had the number 1st, then changed to a different number years ago, and never changed all those citations to the new number. So they've been clouding the current business's NAP for years, effectively keeping them out of the top 3 positions in the Local Search results. Time to Learn How to Think Like Google If you were Google, and it was your job to decide which business gets placed above which business, and you had to do it for hundreds and thousands of businesses for hundreds of thousands of keywords, what standards would you use, if all you had available was the data that Google has on all of those businesses. This (above) is the critical perspective one must have in order to figure out how Google does what it does, and why. And you are not going to gain it any other way. Algorithmic factors will come & go, and the various methods to game the algorithm will also come & go, but the one constant you can always rely on is that Google is a dumb computer using an algorithm (set of rules) and a big-ass database to make all of it's decisions. HOW it uses that data is the key to all other understanding. If you fail to learn to think like this, you will forever fail to understand Local SEO, as either a professional or as a local business owner trying to do-it-yourself. In this case, Google has and uses phone numbers. Consider: Case A: Phone number (123) 456-7890 has exactly one business name associated with it, and that business name has only one address associated with it. Case B: Phone number (098) 765-4321 has 2 different businesses associated with it, and two different addresses. All other factors being equal, which telephone number ranks higher than the other? (Note: I said "telephone number" that ranks, and NOT the business. What I'm describing here is the "weight" or "juice" that the telephone number gives to whatever business that claims to be using it. We could call this "Telephone Number Juice".) People that think they understand NAP consistency assume that they 1st start with the business name, and then look for multiple phone numbers and addresses, and if they do not find any, they assume their NAP is consistent. And they are wrong. You must also start with the business phone number (and the address) and look to see if anything other than your (or your client's) business is assocated with that data. If yes, then the NAP is clouded, polluted and in general inconsistent. What does an Inconsistent NAP Mean to Google? It ain't random, and it ain't some arbitrary rule that comes from out of nowhere. An inconsistent NAP could mean any of the following: 1) One or both businesses are out of business 2) One or both businesses have moved 3) The business owner hasn't updated their business's information (neglectful) 4) One or both of the business's phone numbers have changed. Google isn't going to send agents out in the field to find out which business is where, and which phone number they are currently using. Instead, Google is going to give that business a "minus <something>" on some factor in the algorithm, and that minus is going to negatively affect both businesses' placement in the Local Search Results. It simply cannot be any other way. Does Google ignore inconsistent NAP, and send it's Users calling and driving to non-existent business that moved, went out of business or changed their phone numbers years ago? Hell no. People would be flocking to Bing. It would be "Strike One, and Google is OUT". So, never underestimate how critically important a consistent NAP is. It says a LOT about that business. It says 1) The business exists, and it has <this> name. 2) The business exists, and it is <here>. 3) The business exists, and it has <this> phone number. 4) The owner of the business cared enough to make his NAP consistent. You couldn't ask for a more-fair standard for a business to be measured, nor could you ask for an easier way to be evaluated highly. Okay, so back to my rant. The guy calls me (on Skype) yesterday with the same question. "OH!" he wails. "My client has more reviews, more citations, more everything than all the other competitors, and yet there they are STILL on position "D". Oh PLEASE Nigel, you swami-fucking Guru you, PLEASE tell me oh great wizard WHY my client is still letter "D"! " So, being an accommodating and obedient guru, I do the same thing I did the 1st time. Check all the general parameters, and they all look good. Run a Google Search of the phone number and.... AND.... ...and Ms. Phallacia Rottentwat's business is STILL taking up half of the 1st two pages of the local search results of that phone number! 3 months later, and the guy STILL hasn't fixed that shit. Don't make the same mistake. When I tell you this shit, pay attention. Then DO something, if something needs to be done. Don't just sit there in the puddle of your warm pee-pee, and wait for someone to come change your diaper, because that ain't going to happen.