Look beyond SEO’s traditional uses for brand- and reputation-enhancement benefits.
SEO is not typically considered a branding mechanism. But below the surface, there is intense brand-building value. In order to fully understand the value of a search engine optimization campaign, it is necessary to look beyond traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) such as rankings, organic traffic, etc. and look also at the value search engine optimization has on a brand. Our point of view is that SEO is not successful if it is not building both brand awareness and brand influence.
Building Brand Awareness through SEO
Brand awareness via SEO is built by saturating the most relevant channel with positive brand content for increased visibility. For example, a brand selling dietary supplements should publish engaging content with a positive brand spin throughout the health channel, both on their own website, and other authoritative sites related to health and wellness. This channel saturation will lead to increased visibility by casting a wide net of content around the Web.
It’s not just about volume, however. In order for a saturation strategy to perform, your brand’s content assets must provide value to the channel’s audience andconvey the brand messaging in a positive manner. If there is no value to the audience, the content will not perform in organic search, reducing the benefits of increased visibility.
Rather than simply promoting the brand, the content must provide consumers with information that is of value to them and that they are looking for. The more engaging content a brand has saturated within the channel, the more likely consumers are to come across the brand online. The example below shows how consumers’ first online interaction with brands has changed.
Building Brand Influence with SEO
Brand influence via SEO is built by positioning the brand as the authority of the products and/or services it offers. Consumers trust organic search results. In fact, studies have shown 77% of consumers to trust organic results over paid results. When a brand ranks high in organic search results, consumers will begin to trust the brand and view it as an authority, therefore becoming much more easily influenced to value the brand over competitors and complete a desired action (conversion) on the website.
Consumers who are familiar with a brand are more likely to click on search engine results leading to that brand’s website. This helps to increase click-through rates of a brand’s non-branded search results. As that click-through rates increase from more people trusting the brand, search engines will recognize that behavior and begin to rank the site higher as well.
There is a mutually beneficial back-and-forth relationship between branding and search engine optimization. Just as SEO helps with building a brand, a strong brand presence helps with SEO performance. Taking all of this into consideration, when beginning a new SEO campaign or refining a current strategy, advertisers should always ask themselves how the strategy will help with brand-building and then make the necessary adjustments to make sure that it is part of the focus. Not doing so will result in a great deal of missed opportunity.
In an era when brands’ online reputations are equally as important as their offline reputations marketers must make the case for leveraging the brand-building powers of SEO. Decision-makers will be much more likely to pull the trigger on a campaign when they see the full spectrum of benefits on both the brand and the bottom line.