There has been a lot of noise around branding in the search marketing industry of late, and there’s good reason for it.
To truly build a strong brand presence online, you need to think about how your brand comes across at every consumer touchpoint, because every single interaction an individual has with your business affects their perception of your brand. Whether they see a tweet you’ve posted, read a blog you’ve written or a find you via a Google search – it all influences how and what they think about your brand and business.
Many SEO agencies often subscribe to the notion that as long as a client ranks well for certain keywords, they don’t need to worry too much about their brand. In our experience, however, rankings are never the whole story – and brand should always come first.
Your SEO agency is building your brand online.
The job of your SEO agency is to make your brand visible online via organic search results. This means they’re responsible for how and why people are finding your company online – and they’re responsible for making people click through to your website over of your competitors.
The issue is, far too many SEO agencies focus solely on rankings, and give no time to your brand or your business objectives – a method that simply doesn’t work long term.
SEO should not just be about rankings. There’s no point ranking in top positions for keywords if your CTR is low, or if those clicks aren’t converting.
Will a campaign focused solely on rank increase your traffic? Probably.
Will it produce quality leads and increase conversion rate? Probably not.
You need to find an SEO agency that fully understands your business, gets what your brand message is, and knows what makes your target audience tick. An agency that understands that SEO & brand go hand in hand.
At Forever, we look at the whole picture.
We want your brand to look great wherever someone finds it, which is why we focus on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) listing. Whether this is making your meta tags more compelling or introducing rich snippets – we understand that your SERP listing is the only thing standing between a search result and a website visitor, so we focus on making it as interesting and engaging as possible.
We then write on-page content that will engage a customer and keep them on your website, instead of writing content purely for Google. Unbelievably, keyword stuffing still happens. We see examples of it all the time and while it may sometimes slip through Google’s algorithmic net, it screams to a customer that your brand is not too be trusted.
Again, what is the point in securing a first-place ranking position if a potential customer clicks through to find poorly written, keyword stuffed, dull as dishwater content?
Last, but certainly not least, we remember why people use search engines in the first place.
People don’t just Google things for fun – (unless they’re Googling pictures of puppies or cat videos, of course). They’re trying to find an answer to something or solve a problem.
Think about what problems your customer may be trying to solve that would lead them to your product or service. For example, if your website sells washing machines, it’s important to remember that “I want to buy a washing machine” isn’t the problem, it’s a solution. Thinking about why they want to buy a washing machine can be a much more proactive method for getting your brand noticed online. Maybe your customers are new homeowners and the washing machine was removed by the previous owners. Maybe they’re trying to reduce their carbon footprint and want more modern and eco-friendly machine? Perhaps their water bills are too high, or their current washing machine is too loud, slow or keeps flooding their kitchen?
All of these problems could potentially be solved by your company, but if you’re only targeting keywords around the specific washing machine you sell, you’ve missed a key opportunity to build a relationship and get your brand noticed.
Creating pieces of content that will draw people in on their first information-gathering search introduces them to your brand and instantly associates your brand with the product in their mind.
Pointing this top funnel traffic towards the information that helps them solve their problems builds trust and helps with your brand building as much as it does your search visibility.
But is Brand a Ranking Factor?
In short, no, “brand” isn’t a ranking factor in the traditional sense. There is no known algorithmic input that measures brand strength and effects rank.
With that said, strong brands tend to give off the relevancy and authority signals that Google approves highly of, which is why you will often see websites associated with popular brands ranking highly, even when they’ve not necessary optimised well for search engines.
The long and short of it is that building a great brand online should be at the forefront of any good SEO strategy, because your brand is your business. Furthermore, taking the time to really understand and define your brand allows you to be much more intentional and focused about how you market your business online.
Having a strong and recognisable brand presence will lead to increased an CTR from your SERP listings, encourage visitor engagement and customer loyalty, and could potentially even help Google better understand your business and the products or services you provide.
Defining your target audiences and their paths to purchase means you can build a solid content strategy and figure out which long-tail keywords to target in order to capture valuable top-of-funnel traffic. This way, by the time someone is ready to buy, they’re more likely to come to you.
Having an SEO plan that doesn’t consider your brand or your brand message is likely to drive traffic into your site that either isn’t qualified in the first place, or customers that are likely to bounce and stop trusting your business.
So, want to start a relationship with an agency that will build your SEO strategy from your brand upwards? That will aim to not simply improve your rankings, but improve the quality of your traffic and the number of leads or conversions you receive every month? Feel free to get in touch.
Written by Eimilé Kerrigan, Digital Marketing Manager