I’m highlighting Eric’s comment because I think it helps set the framework for this post and the intersection of modern SEO and branding.
Eric writes, “Too many people continue to focus solely on old-fashioned ranking signals, like content and links. These do remain important, but it’s also important to take a broader view of how your brand is perceived online.”
And he summarizes his points in the following paragraph…
“Try this: engage in branding and advertising campaigns, or actively engage in, or create, conversations across the web about your brand related to the query. That’s a clear sign that consumers consider you relevant to the query.”
The key point for me is that modern SEO is really about taking a broader view of how your brand is perceived online.
Modern SEO (and why valuable content matters now more than ever)
Without a doubt, valuable content is the nucleus of a modern SEO strategy. The ever-evolving ways the search engines index our content means great content will continue to rise.
In the old days SEO was more about refining keywords, getting backlinks, and trying to game the system to bring your site to the top of search engine heaven.
There’s still some gaming going on, but gaming the system is not nearly as easy or fruitful as it once was.
Today the search engine gods want you to show your skills and influence with top-notch content written for your ideal customer.
Google’s continual updates translate to a more comprehensive view when it comes to how your potential customers make buying decisions. Meaning that things like value, honesty, and even entertainment are increasingly important in the search engine world.
If you want to take a deeper dive, here’s a good rundown of Google’s major algorithm updates from Search Engine Land.
How your customers search (and why branding matters)
When it comes to people finding you, getting to like know and trust you, and then hopefully buying from you, there’s no longer an unbending path to your door.
Prospects now have limitless search options. And their searches are more purpose-driven than ever. Google refers to this as Path to Purpose meaning, “content that is personally relevant to them (your fans and customers)” is what engages their interest.
Turns out your brand purpose is key to their path to purchase.
Purpose-driven branding is important and, trust me, in this new world of online marketing, purpose-driven branding has everything to do with SEO.
Harbinger defines brand purpose as “the ownable, actionable impact your brand will make on the lives of your target consumers, rooted in a fundamental insight. It resides at the intersection of what your brand offers the world and your consumer’s deepest cares and desires.”
And they go on, writing… “Brands with clarity of purpose financially outperform those without.”
We’ll get to how this applies to SEO a little later, but for now, know that branding and SEO go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
SEO is no longer just a tactic
People want instant information. Heck, they’re conditioned to expect a world of information to open up at their fingertips.
And, because of this, SEO is no longer one little tactic in your marketing arsenal. No. Now SEO is more like a fully fledged branding and marketing medium.
As search engines advance from mere search engines to more robust “answer engines,” understanding is key.
And there are tactics that help with establishing credibility, and help the search engines clearly understand your brand and your business…
This is what the search engines want to see (Thanks, Jason!):
- Reputation marketing (positive online reviews)
- Public relations (outreach campaigns to popular bloggers and media)
- Getting links from credible sites (your local chamber of commerce, associations you belong to, popular websites, etc.)
- A consistent stream of quality content. And studies have shown that well-written long form content works best.
- Optimizing your site for SEO
- Off-site strategies (social media marketing, citations, influencer marketing, etc.)
- Active social media communities
So, the bullet points above are about…
- What the search engines want to see (of course)
- How your ideal customer will be searching for your products and/or services
- And it clearly displays why SEO is now a channel that needs to be integrated into your branding and marketing strategies
Brand traction is the key to a long-term SEO strategy that works
SEO is a long game.
To do SEO right, you need to be focused, steady, and patient.
To rock SEO, you must to be ready for a marathon.
And for a longer term SEO strategy to work, you must have a strong bedrock that begins and ends with your brand.
Mark Traphagen lives and breathes SEO and, even in his world, he writes about the importance of having unique content that stands out.
In this piece about the three marks of great content he explains why you need to align your content with your brand.
To do so, you need to craft useful and unique content that’s inline with your business goals and written with the wants and needs of your customers in mind.
So, being overly salesy or promotional is out. But honesty, transparency, and good ol’ teaching are in.
This is because there’s an intrinsic resistance in people that has to be overcome. To do this, you need a brand with purpose and this purposeful brand needs to be aligned with your SEO Plans.
According to Mark, you need to…
- Consider your business goals
- But learn to walk a mile in your customers shoes
- And build a bridge to connect what is relevant to your business and what truly matters to your customers and prospects.
And don’t forget uniqueness. Here Mark also talks about this importance of uniqueness.
The points above basically define how you should position your brand – define what you do, what makes you unique, and clarify how you will fix your ideal customer’s pain.
Just about everyone knows you need to optimize your site and content for SEO.
But brand-building is something that is not always a part of the SEO conversation.
I see branding as your most important asset.
For your brand to stand out it needs to be unique, have clarity, and appeal to the right people.
And a unique, clear brand your ideal customers want to engage with is the main ingredient needed for an SEO strategy that works. It should be step one.
Produce a continual stream of content that represents the values of your brand, appeals to your ideal customers, but doesn’t forget the search engines.
Brands that continually bring in customers proudly display the relevancy and authority search engines like.
The essentials of SEO will continue to be important, but a strong brand is key to making SEO work these days.
Position your brand properly then work it into all your SEO strategies.
You’ll project the quality, trust, and authority signals search engines love.
Your ranking will improve.
Ideal customers will engage with you.
And these are just the ingredients you need for business growth.
Do you want to bring your brand to life? Taking a few minutes to complete our brand audit will help you think about your current marketing efforts and what might need to change. It will also help me suggest several ways to improve your branding and marketing now: Brand audit.
After you complete the form, we’ll contact you to schedule a time to go over the results and see how we can help.