How SEO Improves Branding

Brad Shorr
Straight North
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Key Takeaways

What? An overview of ways SEO enhances brand reach and image.

So what? Branding specialists have an opportunity to greatly improve results by applying SEO techniques to their work, or perhaps more practically, by collaborating with SEO agencies.

Now what? With a basic understanding of how SEO helps branding and what types of SEO work is needed, a branding specialist can develop a game plan for weaving SEO into its branding campaigns, differentiating itself from competitors that ignore SEO.

The benefits of SEO are manifold. Here's a  look at how SEO can improve your brand.

SEO’s primary purpose is generating organic search engine traffic that converts into sales and leads, but two of its most valuable fringe benefits include improving brand reach and improving brand image. So while branding agencies need not be experts in SEO, they will benefit by encouraging clients to sustain a strong SEO campaign, or partner formally or informally with an SEO agency. In this article, we will take a closer look at how a properly strategized and executed SEO campaign improves branding.

Brand Reach

Exact figures are not reported, but Google is thought to handle more than 3 billion searches a day, or 1 trillion search queries per year. Clearly, prominent organic visibility on Google exposes a brand to a multitude of users who are looking for the products and services a company sells, but are not familiar with that brand. 

Related Content

What has changed about SEO in recent years — and what benefits branding — is the degree to which search engine visibility can be targeted to the most relevant and important audiences. Some examples:

  • Local SEO gives brands the ability to intensely target local markets, achieving prominent, visually appealing exposure for local searches. Local SEO proficiency benefits not only local companies, but also national and global brands with an interest in building market share in specific geographic markets. Important side note: Google’s results to users are based on many factors, including their geographic location — so local search visibility is not limited to users querying with explicit geographic keywords.

  • Image and video search continue to grow in popularity, and are of particular benefit to brands with a complex value proposition (a picture is worth a thousand words). Creating visual content allows a company to tap into visually oriented users, and a greater number of users who are not necessarily visual learners. Why? Because mobile Internet access is exploding, and mobile users are drawn to visual content. Important side note: Visual content is an area where branding-SEO collaboration is very helpful. SEOs know how to leverage visual content, but branding specialists know how to create it.

  • Long-tail keywords give brands the ability to reach very specific subsets of the audience that are not easy to market to by other means. For example, a widget cleaner can use SEO keywords to target searches for “clean widgets made before 1960” or “clean widgets in a desert climate”. A robust SEO campaign can target thousands of such long-tail keywords, with the cumulative effect of opening a line of communication with scores of micro-markets.

Brand Image

Branding specialists may not know it, but SEO campaigns frequently (and usually should) include a branded SEO component. A branded SEO campaign targets branded keywords — e.g., “acme widget cleaner” — so that Google users querying branded search terms see the brand’s company links, quite often at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).

SEOs love branded campaigns because they attract the most relevant traffic (i.e., people specifically looking for the brand), and therefore generate the highest percentage of lead or sales conversions. In addition, the high relevance of the campaign to the keywords tends to raise overall SEO effectiveness.

Branding agencies should love branded SEO campaigns as well. First, prominent organic visibility for branded searches gives a brand added credibility — if a user searches for a brand and doesn’t see the company behind it, what conclusion will that user draw? Second, on a more tactical level, branded prominence prevents competitive brands from stealing the spotlight — along with the traffic, leads and sales. Thus branded SEO campaigns extend and protect the brand.

A prominent component of most all SEO campaigns is the placement of a client’s off-site content on relevant websites and blogs. From an SEO perspective, off-site content creates valuable inbound links to the client website, which give organic visibility a huge boost.

Again, branding specialists should love off-site content campaigns, too. For content to be effective for SEO, it must be authoritative, useful, engaging and relevant — exactly the sort of content that raises the value of a brand. Furthermore, back to brand reach, off-site content may expose the brand to new audiences that share the content on social media, exposing the brand to even more new potential customers.

As with creating visual content, collaboration and consistency in the production of textual content is important for branding and SEO, which takes me back to where I started: branding agencies should look for opportunities to work with SEO agencies. Working together will generate more value to the client than when the functions are separated by unnecessary walls. 

Brad Shorr is the Director of Content Strategy at Straight North.

Author Bio:

Brad Shorr
With more than 30 years of marketing experience, Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing company headquartered in Chicago offering SEO, PPC and Web design services across the country. Brad’s articles have been featured on Moz, Salesforce, Forbes and scores of other leading online publications.
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