You’re surfing your favourite news portal before leaving for work. Almost subliminally, you notice an ad for a new book on financial planning. Next, you drop by a forum to chat, and someone is talking about the same book. You then quickly pop in to Amazon.com to select some reading material for a weekend trip – and there’s the title again, in the recommended list of “Weekly Picks”.
Hmm… you start wondering. What’s that book about? Who’s the author? But you don’t have time to explore further.
At the office, you check your email and Gmail displays an ad for the book you now realize you’ve been seeing everywhere! Back home that evening, you’re researching material for tomorrow’s presentation on household budget trends and the first website you visit has a review of the same book.
You can’t stand it any longer. You simply must take a closer look at it. You type the author’s name into Google and reach a page that tells you more about the author’s expertise and features powerful testimonials about his new book. A few minutes later, you’ve placed an order for your copy from an online bookstore (or even downloaded it right away to your Kindle or iPad).
That’s the power of SEO branding. Ubiquity, that leads to recognition, and ultimately to ‘buying’ behaviour.
Branding Via SEO: More Than Just Code & “Fixing”
I call this interaction “SEO Branding” and it is one of many “growth hacks” that not only boost sales but also grow a business. Here’s something every serious business owner who is seeking to tap into the incredible power of search engine optimization must understand.
People do not make buying decisions based on impersonal facts. They rely upon their perspective and how they think, interpret or believe circumstances to be. They add “emotional spin” to the data based on their gut feeling and mood, which significantly alters and affects your SEO efforts.
It is what takes top notch SEO out of the realm of code tweaking, tag fixing and similar website repair jobs, and rockets it into a more exclusive arena of strategic business building activity.
Most SEO consultants and marketers focus merely on the technical nuances of getting higher search rankings for their client websites. They ignore far bigger, more impactful elements of business growth such as securing funding, finding investors or enhancing stock value – all of which are ultimate goals of good SEO branding.
Why Bother with SEO Branding?
SEO branding can help build recognition and trust for companies planning a stock listing on the NYSE or NASDAQ. It can help a business find investors by not just grabbing top search engine rankings, but doing it in a way that (through optimized title and meta descriptions) tells the story they want partners to hear.
It can guide you to choose the right keywords and understand the intent behind their use, so that appropriately tailored landing pages will deliver the highest impact returns for your business goals.
In the eyes of most of your prospects, high rankings mean high quality. More and more frequently, consumers conduct their research online before they buy, and their buying decisions are affected not just by top rankings, but also by what they read on your page, how well their needs are met, and what others are saying about your business or product.
Not being in control of your SEO branding can become a costly mistake. And getting it right can be extremely profitable. Social media marketing is also growing ever more important. Happy clients, working for free and sharing your links with hundreds of friends, will spread your message to thousands of prospects, at no advertising cost. All you must do is give them the right tools (texts, keywords and message) – and get out of their way!
But even if I call SEO branding a ‘growth hack’, it’s no simple ‘hack’ but a strategic, iterative process. There’s no quick-fix approach to getting things right. It’s not a manipulative system of stuffing keywords or blasting thousands of backlinks at a site. It’s a form of inbound marketing that transcends technique to become a true “growth hack” with potential to expand and explode a business’ level of success.
Build Your Brand Without Buying Billboards
If you follow a non-strategic approach of buying online display advertising on the highest traffic resources, it’s like running an ad on a super-highway. The right buyer may or may not see that banner for which you paid thousands of dollars. But combine this branding effort with SEO and you’ll ensure that your ad is right there at the time your prospective buyer is ready for it.
Your SEO-driven ad is not on display for just a limited period until your budget runs out. It’s there all year round, working gradually and sub-lineally to convince your best prospects that your number one. This can happen only when you completely understand the importance of search rankings in the research and buying cycle.
Strategic SEO-based brand advertising will help you build trust with your audience, hack into your prospect’s mind, and plant a seed that will grow over time to become a money tree.
How to Go Fishing With SEO Branding
In olden times, fishermen put out to sea with small nets which they cast into the waters to catch a few fish. Today, we have far more powerful trawlers that can go out into deeper seas, and use massive nets that sweep up their catch in numbers that dwarf the pathetic effort of manual labourers.
Modern SEO is just like that. Any branding or PR campaign that ignores the vital role of SEO is destined to fail, or at least seriously under-perform on its potential. Running your branding campaign without a sound SEO strategy is like driving your car on a high-speed freeway… in second gear! Maybe you’ll reach your destination in the end – but you’ll waste more fuel, take a longer time, and likely wear out your machinery before you get there. It just isn’t cost effective or efficient. If you have six gears, use them!
Your SEO efforts are like a fishing net – except you’re angling for people. The right people. The prospects who are interested in what you have to offer are seeking solutions to problems you can help them solve, and who are driven by motives that you deeply understand, empathize with, and speak to in your landing page copy. That’s how you can attract your ideal audience like a magnet and convert them into customers, clients and raving fans almost automatically!
It’s important to remember this is not limited to big businesses with deep pockets. Even small companies can take advantage of SEO branding by being smarter. You can exploit the efforts of big brands that don’t have an SEO plan, and leverage the momentum they create in the marketplace to attract your customers – the folks who are in ‘research mode’ prior to buying or taking action.
You can cast your digital fishing net on other people’s marketing ocean. Their unguided advertising and branding efforts have already planted the seed of interest and attention into the minds of a large target audience. You simply step into the slipstream and pull them over to your website, which is already ranked high on search engines for the top generic keywords and phrases in your niche, thanks to your strategic SEO branding activities.
Knowingly or not, many companies focus on select views and keywords in their marketing campaigns because their branding consultants advise them to use big words. This risks creating a divide between the business and their market.
The ads may look great, but they cause a business to miss out on reaching a lot of potential clients, sales and business growth potential, because these branding efforts are not backed by a planned and well organized SEO branding strategy.
SEO & Branding Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Often, you’ll see discussions about SEO and branding take on a ‘black or white’ flavour, as if experts are driven to argue over which one is better than the other. Unfortunately, this artificial distinction only leads to less than stellar results for clients. SEO and branding can work cohesively together to reinforce each other, creating much more powerful synchrony than either alone. The impact of SEO branding can be long-lasting, measurable and targeted.
Yet, sadly, SEO and branding are all too often completely out of sync. Low hanging fruit is left unpicked. What is an explosively powerful business ‘growth hack’ falls by the wayside. Clients lose out on revenue potential and business growth opportunity. And this happens in both the short and long term.
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