By Marc Purtell | @MarcPurtell | Director, SEO
Editor’s note: This is the final post of a three-part “How To” series on leveraging SEO’s brand-building powers. Read previous posts in the series. The series is based on MediaWhiz’s new white paper, “Leveraging SEO’s Brand-Building Powers.” Download a copy.
Leveraging the brand-building powers of search engine optimization requires a different set of best practices than those commonly used in traditional SEO strategies. In general best practices for SEO brand building include assessing the current state of the brand, identifying sentiment issues, building engaging on-site content and creating off-site branded content assets.
Step 1: Assess the Current State of the Brand
The first step in utilizing an SEO campaign for brand-building is to assess the current state of the brand. Is this an already recognizable brand or a challenger brand looking to breakthrough? If the brand is not yet well known, SEO should be leveraged to build brand awareness and influence. The focus will be on-site. If the brand is well-known and already has a strong presence, organic branding efforts should be focused on best practices for protecting and enhancing the reputation of the brand. The focus in this case will be off-site.
Step 2: Increase Quantity and Position of Non-Branded Search Queries
Building a challenger brand relies primarily on increasing the quantity and position of relevant non-branded search queries for which the site ranks, and secondarily on saturating the relevant channel with branded content. Determine the most relevant search phrases and build unique content around each to go on-site. Look at the competitors’ content that is ranking for those keywords and take a different angle with your own content. Once the content is published, build authority through links and social signals. This will lead to higher rankings which therefore will position your brand in front of a wider audience. Take a similar approach with off-site content by publishing to popular, relevant sites that already have authority to saturate the web with brand messaging.
Step 3: Identify Sentiment Issues
For established brands, the opportunity comes from protecting the brand and reputation enhancement. This is where identifying sentiment issues comes into play (and is also important for challenger brands).
Understand first what people are searching around your brand. This can be done by inputting your brand name in a keyword suggestion tool, such as Google’s , which will return a list of popular search phrases around your brand. Perform some manual searches for the popular brand terms and examine the search engine results pages for negative sentiment. Any page one results with negative sentiment will indicate a need for reputation enhancement.
Step 4: Optimize Brand Content for Relevant Search Terms
Reputation enhancement is done through building positive brand content and optimizing it for the search terms in question. The content is then published on popular websites that have high domain authority.
Step 5: Build Page Authority
Finally page authority is built to the new pages by building links and social signals. The goal is to rank these new content assets on the first page of the organic search engine results to replace those with negative sentiment. This is a good practice regardless of whether there is an existing negative sentiment for popular brand searches because it creates a shield that blocks against future negative sentiment.
Any new SEO campaign should leverage the brand-building powers in order to garner the strongest and most sustainable results. If existing campaigns are running, it is always worthwhile to re-think the strategy to ensure branding capabilities are being utilized.