Zach Thompson is CEO of MediaSmack, a legal marketing firm, where he oversees the strategic vision and growth of the company.
Whether you are marketing on TV or online, brand consistency — such as using the same logo, colors and slogan — can help your audience recognize and trust your brand. When marketing online, businesses also need to focus on NAP consistency because it is important for local SEO and E-A-T. Below, I explain these acronyms and how NAP consistency can affect your business’s online marketing efforts.
What Are SEO, NAP And E-A-T?
I understand that all of the acronyms can be overwhelming. SEO, or search engine optimization, is broadly the practice of optimizing your website so that it is more likely to appear on search engine results pages (e.g., Google search results) for relevant search terms. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer in San Diego, you would want to show up in a Google search for “personal injury lawyer San Diego.” That is what SEO is all about.
NAP is an acronym that stands for name, address and phone number. Your business’s NAP should be consistent across the internet. I explain why this is important in the next section.
E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. You want to be the expert and trusted authority in your industry — not only to potential customers but also to Google and other search engines.
Why Is NAP Consistency Important For My Business’s Local SEO?
Online business listings should be an integral part of your business’s digital marketing strategy. These listings are backlinks that can build up your website’s authority with search engines. A backlink is a link from another website to your website. You can think of it as another website endorsing your website, and search engines pick up on these endorsements. However, all of these endorsements should provide the same information about your business.
At my company, we start with the “big three” business listings: Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and Yelp for Business. These listings should be identical to each other and match any other listings and social media profiles you create. These listings should also align with the NAP information you have on your website.
Why? Well, these are key pieces of information that consumers are looking for when they are ready to contact a local business, and search engines want to provide users with the most relevant information they can. If you have inconsistent NAP information across the internet, search engines may not be able to trust your information, and as a result, it may be more difficult for your business to show up in search results for locally focused queries. This point coincides with your business’s E-A-T.
Why Is NAP Important For My Business’s E-A-T?
As I discussed above, NAP inconsistencies can adversely affect your local SEO because search engines won’t be confident about the information you are providing. Basically, search engines won’t trust you. Many of my clients are attorneys and law firms, which have what are known as “your money or your life” websites. This means that their websites can affect a person’s financial, health or professional decisions. Google and other search engines hold these websites to the highest standard. Displaying accurate NAP information is part of this standard.
There is another even more important side to this too: You need to showcase E-A-T to your target customer or client. Inconsistent NAP information can adversely impact your potential customers or clients. Think about how frustrating it is to call a business and learn that the wrong number or even an out-of-service number is listed. Another example would be driving to a business that is closed, when online it says that it is open. That person would have a negative experience with that business, and it would not be unusual for that person to call or drive to the competition.
Ensuring Consistency With Your Business’s NAP
The most important takeaway from this article is consistency. You do not have to use the exact same business name that is on your business license, but whatever you decide to use needs to be the same everywhere.
Here are some questions to ask to ensure you’re being consistent with your name:
• Is your business a limited liability company? Do you want to include “LLC” in your business name?
• Do you have the word “and” or an ampersand in your business name? Which one will you use moving forward? Do not interchange them.
• Does your business name include commas? Keep them in or leave them out, but stay consistent.
Similarly, consider how you want to list your business address. Does it include a suite number? I recommend that you spell out abbreviations (e.g., “Suite” rather than “STE”) and always include your specific suite number.
Search engines’ intention is to provide users with the most valuable and relevant information. If you give them consistent NAP information across the web, they will be more likely to reward you. Even more important, you will give potential customers a positive first experience with your business.