Why should your SEO Strategy Focus on Brand Building (and How to Do So)?
Big brands always rank higher in the SERPs. The reason for that is simple. These are famous industry names that drive massive traffic, create valuable content, and provide an exceptional user experience.
Unsurprisingly, to compete with such strong rivals, small businesses also need to invest in building a solid online brand. Above all, they need to focus on aligning their branding efforts with their SEO strategy.
In this post, I will reveal why your SEO strategy should focus on brand building, as well give you a few tips on how to do so.
The SERPs are Constantly Changing
Google is famous for its continuous algorithm updates. In addition to them, the Big G regularly tweaks its layout. If you remember how its SERPs looked in 2011, for example, you will notice some big differences.
One of such differences is featured snippets. Search Engine Watch defines them “a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results.” And, can you guess where I found that definition? You’re right, it was in the featured snippet. So, we can conclude that a featured snippet is a paragraph extracted from an authoritative article that gives a concise answer to a searcher’s question.
Why am I telling you that?
The reason is simple. Search snippets reduce the clicks on your SERP listings. And, the recent research study by Ahrefs backs me up on that. Namely, they found that, when there is no featured snippet, 26% of clicks go to the first result. On the other hand, when there is a featured snippet, 8.6% of clicks go to it, while 19.6% of clicks go to the URL below it. In other words, a featured snippet is stealing the clicks from the first result in the SERPs.
The solution to this problem is simple- you need to get your content featured in Google’s featured snippets. And, in its attempt to provide its users with exceptional and credible answers, Google extracts the parts of the content from highly reputable, well-known online resources like Wikipedia. In other words, featured snippets are reserved for big industry players and credible brands. And, if you’re not among them, this will result in less traffic, fewer clicks and, consequently, poor conversion rates.
Brand Awareness is Vital to Driving Traffic
OK, here’s a brief test. Go to Google, search for a keyword related to SEO, and look at the results. Which content stands out instantly?
The one by popular and authoritative brands.
Search Engine Journal.
These are all well-known, specific brands everyone knows about.
So, even if a site like live365.com ranks higher in the SERPs, most users would probably skip it and click on one of the popular resources mentioned above.
Brand awareness is a powerful thing. It’s powerful enough to impact people’s perceptions. Powerful enough to get them to skip the piece of content that appears as #1. Powerful enough to earn a customer’s trust and encourage them to make a purchase.
And, that’s logical. We know what brands they can trust and we stick to them to make sure we’ve made the right choice. According to some stats by Nielsen, global customers are more likely to purchase new products from companies they’re familiar with.
Another example of how important brand recognition may be is Forbes. Sometimes, their content is too broad and generic. Their URLs also look terrible. Here’s an example: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/05/15/15-social-media-management-tools-that-can-help-your-business-thrive/#7898b4e2b135.
Still, once you see their name in the SERPs, you will most likely click on it. The big brand name and its massive following are enough for you to visit their site, even though you don’t expect too much from it.
These examples prove that the stronger your online reputation is, the higher the chances of boosting clicks and driving valuable traffic.
Organic CTR is Now More Important than Rankings
No matter how high you appear on Google, if no one is familiar with your brand, they won’t click on your result. If you don’t start building a solid and memorable brand, your awesome products or cutting-edge products will go unnoticed. Without a brand, you’re no one in the online world.
This is why organic CTR now more important than mere keyword rankings in the SERPs. Clicks indirectly impact where you will appear in the SERPs. If you rank high, but no one clicks on your URL, that’s a sign to Google that your listing is not performing like a top one. On the other hand, more clicks on a post with poorer ranking will probably get it ranked higher. And, just like I’ve mentioned above, to get people to click on your results, you first need to make your brand trustworthy and memorable.
How to Align your Brand with your SEO Efforts?
Now that you know why brand building is important for your SEO strategy, it’s time to see how to align these two aspects of your marketing strategy. Here are a few simple tips you may want to implement.
1. Have a Solid ORM Strategy
Today, people don’t trust branded posts and ads anymore. When they want to learn more about your brand, they will simply go to your site, social media pages, or local directories to find out what their peers think of you.
And, this is exactly where you should build your ORM strategy. Use the abovementioned channels to collect customer reviews, provide exceptional customer feedback, and publish customer testimonials and user-generated content.
You should also fight the negative word of mouth. Use social media monitoring tools to find negative brand mentions, provide professional and helpful feedback, and try to turn dissatisfied users into brand ambassadors. There are also numerous backlink analysis tools like Majestic SEO or Monitor Backlinks that will let you monitor your backlinks, find the ones that may hurt your reputation, and resolve them fast.
2. Build Trust and Credibility with Content.
SEO is all about keywords. However, you need to know how to implement these keywords into your SEO strategy strategically. This is what the recent article by a Hong Kong-based SEO agency, Elevate Digital, emphasizes: “Every piece of content that you will feature on your website will include keywords that you wish to rank for, strategically placed and never too numerous so as to raise suspicion.”
Your goal is to create highly informative, insightful, and actionable content that educates your customers and helps them solve real-life problems. Such content is seen as highly valuable by both searchers and search engines. Above all, it positions you as a credible online resource, helping you earn more clicks and valuable links.
3. Build a Personal Brand with Guest Blogging.
We all know how important guest blogging is in the world of SEO. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking signals.
Moreover, contributing to highly reputable sites in your niche and earning links from them will help you boost your brand exposure and get more eyeballs on your site. Just look at how Neil Patel does it. He uses guest blogging to build an authoritative personal brand. Most importantly, he uses his personal brand to make his company brand more relatable and increase its online authority.
4. SEO and Social Networks
People connect with brands on social networks for numerous reasons. Some want to learn more about coupons, others to read the latest content, while some simply want to learn more about your brand. Your goal is to establish a unique tone and voice across these channels and deliver consistent user experiences through your posts, messages, or comments. No matter if you choose to be punny as Wendy’, sophisticated like Schweppes, or hilarious like Charmin, you should choose tone and voice that makes sense for your brand and stick to it.
5. Make Sure your Design is Consistent
Did you notice how much noise is created when a popular brand like Google or Instagram changes their logo? That’s because their users get emotionally attached to the one they’ve previously used. Well, similarly to your logo, your website design is a part of your branding strategy. Every element on your site, from the choice of colors to your CTA buttons, should reflect your brand’s unique personality, values, missions, and goals.
Over to You
These examples only prove that SEO and brand building go hand in hand. First, Google gives recognized brands better treatment. Second, having a solid brand means building trust with your target audience and earning more organic clicks. Most importantly, you will stand out from your competitors and inspire users to come back to you over and over again.
Hope these five simple tips will help you align your SEO strategy with your branding goals.