In the early days, search engine optimization only had a technical focus, with an emphasis on targeted keywords, canonical tags, site maps, link building...you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, the technical aspects of SEO are still vital components of a successful digital marketing campaign.
However, search engines (and the people who use them) have become more sophisticated. SEOs have had to learn to balance the human equation with the needs of the robot. In short, they have had to learn to think more like traditional marketers.
Today, it is just as important to get inside the mind of the person using the search engine as it is to understand the algorithms and data structures that make the search engines tick. All of us SEOs have had to turn our talents to supporting the client's most important asset - their brand.
Fortunately for all concerned, the marriage between digital know-how and traditional marketing is a strong one, and search engine optimization can play a vital role in building brand recognition, online brand authority, and customer loyalty.
What is Your Brand?
Your brand is much more than a name and a well-designed logo - it is your very identity. Your brand basics are your reputation, your experience, your successes, and, yes, even your failures. It is a unique story that only you can tell, in a voice that (hopefully) becomes instantly recognizable to the public.
Building a successful brand is one of the most important things you can do, as well as one of the most difficult and time-consuming. A sound SEO strategy, one that encompasses the technical as well as the conceptual, can help you reach the goal of brand recognition, so your business can grow and thrive. Let’s look at a couple of basic SEO techniques and concepts that can help establish your brand, and support it and nurture it as it grows.
Content Creation and Brand Authority
Establishing your brand authority begins with creating high-value content that clearly demonstrates your expertise in your industry. The old SEO rallying cry of "Content is King" still holds true, and delivering a regular stream of valuable and informative content remains one of the best ways to establish your brand identity.
Creating quality content also gives you the opportunity to develop your brand’s unique voice, and to tell your unique story. In short, it is the best way to connect with the public and to start building recognition for you and your business.
But creating quality content also has a very practical effect on your brand and its online visibility. With every online search, Google is attempting to match queries with the most relevant and informative answers. That means that the search engine is actively looking for, and assigning value to, sites that are authorities in their niche industries.
It's very important to note that Google is highly interested in "search intent", and your content must address this to help elevate your brand's status as an authority in your industry.
Demonstrating your expertise in a certain field, through blog posts and other online content, will help to establish your brand as a source for authoritative answers to user search intent. This will help you gain traction in the SERPs, giving you greater online visibility and laying a solid groundwork on which to further develop your brand. Eventually, you will be able to use your established online reputation to expand your topics of expertise and reach an even wider audience with your message.
Link Building for Brand Recognition
Link building has come under some heavy fire over the last couple of years, but it is still a prime component of a sound SEO strategy. It just has to be handled with a bit more care and attention than before.
Amassing a large number of low-quality links, and leveraging them to gain some temporary online visibility, is a thing of the past. When it comes to establishing your online reputation, and building brand recognition, obtaining authority links help a ton!
You want to associate your brand with the influencers in your industry, and links from high-quality sites that have a strong reputation of their own can only help to boost your online profile. Now that Google, and other search engines, are forcing webmasters to concentrate on quality over quantity, links can be an even more effective tool in establishing your online authority and building brand recognition for your business.
When building links to support your brand, consider the following points:
- Identify the major influencers in your industry, particularly those with an established brand and a high search share.
- Reach out to these influencers, and build an ongoing relationship with them. Where possible, partner with one or two major influencers and provide content ideas for their sites.
- Create content that will attract brand loyalty. Ideally, you want to "earn" high-quality links from influential sites, and the best way to do that is to create content that attracts and inspires influencers within your industry. Remember, even no-follow links provide value.
- Participate in your online communities. It may be industry forums or social networks, but interacting through online communities is a great way to raise awareness of your brand and to reinforce its image and reputation. Again, the quality of your content is crucial here. Your contributions, even on social networking sites, should be informative and valuable to the other participants.
Link building is still an important part of any SEO strategy. But now that the emphasis is on high-quality links from authoritative sources, it is a highly effective tool for establishing your business’ reputation and building a recognized and trusted brand. As you continue to write quality content, you will eventually be recognized as a leader in your field and more people will get to know your brand = more links.
Social sharing naturally falls into brand recognition as well. As users across the web develop an anchor to your voice and content in your field, they will come back for more and tweet, like, and pin your content.
Your brand is your most valuable commodity. It is the face and voice you present to the public, and as such, it needs to be both recognizable and trusted if you are going to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace. SEO can play a large part in establishing your brand authority, and in nurturing it until it becomes a recognized leader in your field. Your SEO strategies should work to support your branding efforts, so you can continue to establish your business as a leader in your industry.