Branding in SEO – The Big Shift in Online Marketing

by Jason Acidre on October 3, 2011 · 60 comments · Search

BrandingThe strength of a brand is considerably the backbone of most successful businesses, may it be on or offline, given that it has the ability to signify a certain organization’s true value and edge which separates it from its competitors.

The search industry has provided businesses worldwide with immeasurable potentials and growth in the past decade. As the Internet industry grows, users’ behaviors tend to mature as well, in which search engines are left with no other options but to constantly evolve in order to further improve the experience they are providing to their users when seeking for information over the web – such as authorships, rich snippets for search listings, personalized and localized results.

With these several changes in the search results’ landscape, particularly on Google, Branding appears to be one of the biggest factors that search engines might rely on when it comes to determining authenticity for web authority/popularity.

Search algorithms are evidently capable of extracting data from websites using brand-based metrics, which can be used in evaluating a website’s importance and level of demand. These areas of assessment could be drawn from:

  • Brand mentions from other websites’ content.
  • Amount of branded-anchor text links directing to the site.
  • Volume of search queries for the brand.
  • Brand mentions from social networks.

With search engines mining brand related data and the upcoming rise of new top-level domains (TLDs) – .brands – that is scheduled to be launched by ICANN early next year – it is almost certain that the next shift in search engine optimization is going to be mostly about branding, seeing as a strong brand presence indicates authoritativeness. Moreover, popular brands are most likely to be rewarded by search engines with higher rankings (for very competitive keywords) on their search results, knowing that they have earned their trust basing from users’ perspectives.

Apparently, traditional marketing methodologies, like social marketing and branding, are being more appropriate and efficient to be utilized in today’s, or perhaps tomorrow’s online marketing needs. As methods that can leverage a brand’s exposure seem to tremendously impact a site’s SEO efforts.

Brand signals from design and identity

Investing on a visually attractive web design and shaping a captivating character for a business’ brand can most certainly generate interest from its target audience. This interest sequentially sends out massive brand signals through social sharing and natural linking, which can boost the site’s visibility and ability to move content across the web.

Hipmunk and Benthebodyguard are some brilliant examples for this approach, as these sites’ simplicity and straightforwardness have made its marketing efforts almost effortless.

Brand signals from image and rich media advertisements

Banner advertisements from affiliate marketers and ad networks, like Google Adsense, can extensively disseminate a brand’s exposure to its target market.

For instance, Pokerstars have efficiently used this marketing channel, as they were able to establish a dominant figure in a competitive industry through visually-driven brand signals. These brand signals can usually create curiosity from a specific audience and often leads to brand search queries.

pokerstars search volume

And this funnel of actions simply enabled them to assimilate the main targeted keyword to the brand name itself.

Poker Google Search

Building linkable assets

Linkable assets or exceptionally crafted contents that have the ability to continuously attract linkers, traffic and leads over time are a robust source of brand signals. Web pages like SEOmoz’s Beginners Guide to SEO, Adage’s Power 150 and Everythingisaremix’s complete video series page are great samples of linkable assets that can progressively cultivate a brand and are compelling enough to encourage social sharing and linking.

Branding through externally distributed content

Using link building techniques to develop a site’s brand can have an effect on how its target audience perceives the brand. Sending out massive brand signals through externally distributed content such as press releases, guest blogs, online media coverage, interviews, whitepapers and rich media content like infographics, videos, slide presentations and kinetic text can exemplify expertise and authority in any industry. Continuous implementation of these methods can increase brand mentions, brand queries as well as brand advocates.

Branding through great customer service and social media interactions

A high quality service can always be a great branding tool, since it instills the idea of trust to a business’ target consumers. In addition to a quality service, considering social media as a channel for customer support can leverage the trust that a brand is able to build to its customers, which can be very advantageous in obtaining positive reviews and attracting more brand advocates.

John Doherty, an SEO Consultant at Distilled, recently wrote a review about Zappos’ great customer service and how a certain social interaction have led to breeding a satisfied costumer, which clearly denotes that a combination of quality customer service and social media can be a powerful branding tool.

Consistent community participation and static marketing

Being involved in the web community, especially in the brand’s designated industry, also helps in establishing a powerful brand as well as in building connections that can benefit the site/brand’s marketing campaign along the process.

Consistency in terms of representation and quality of contributions on relevant forums, blog discussions, Q&A sites and social networks can create a gradually expounding exposure for the brand, as enthusiasts, influencers and consumers, in that certain field, are being reached in a genuine level of communication – a position where relationships are easily built.

Article first published as Branding in SEO – The Big Shift in Online Marketing on Technorati by Jason Acidre

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Image Credit: RedBalloon

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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