When building or revisiting your business’s branding strategy, you may review details like logo, colors, advertising and sales decks but what about how your business appears in search engines like Google or Yahoo? Time and money are spent intricately developing a brand image and many companies fail to realize that they haven’t extended that brand into one of the most impactful mediums in today’s digital world – search results. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. SEO is sometimes viewed as a way to keyword stuff a website to get more organic traffic but it’s much more than that.
Branded vs. Non Branded Search Queries
Search strategy is a powerful tool that propels your website into the search results for branded searches and non branded searches. What is a branded search query? A branded search query is when a person using Google (or other search engine) looks for a specific brand or website. The keyword can include just the brand name or brand name + keyword. For example, someone may search for Target, Target Baby Clothes or Men’s Shoes at Target.
Branded can also relate to a competitor’s brand. It’s crucial that your website shows up for your brand name rather than your competitors. It’s also important that your listing in the search results mirrors your brand. Do you lead with sales, selection or services? How do you inform someone of what you provide and entice them to click?
These questions are even more vital when looking at ranking for non branded keywords. Non branded terms are any search phrase or query that doesn’t include a brand such as women’s clothes or men’s black shoes. When a person is searching using non branded keywords they typically get a full page of unique results and you need to propel your site above the rest. Ranking in the first three positions is always the goal but you can also stand out by integrating brand messaging and interest to get people to click on your site. In the following search results example you’ll see how brands use their name, unique characters and sales propositions like New Arrivals to attract attention to their site.
How to Stand Out Using SEO?
We know that we need to stand out for branded and non branded searches but how does a site do that? The two main factors to consider when trying to integrate your brand’s voice and messaging in the search results is through the title tag and meta description of each page. The title tag (highlighted below) is a major rank factor and the first thing a user sees when looking at the search results.
Your title tag is controlled in the code of your website and cannot be seen by a user on the site itself, which is why many people overlook this branding opportunity. A title tag should be about 60 characters and unique to each page on your website. Use this space to say what’s contained on that page, who you are and why someone should click. It’s an art!
The second area to optimize is the meta description. Similar to the title tag, this can only be found on the code of the site but is shown as the brief copy under the title tag.
This area should be treated as your ad space for each page and be kept to about 160 characters. Really sell why someone should click on your site. Be interesting and intriguing and make sure to include a call to action.
Continued Integration of Branding and SEO
We’ve discussed why a brand needs to control their image in the search results and how to execute those optimizations, but it’s also important to note that SEO should be a continual part of a business’s branding strategy. The keywords that are targeted will shift over time, brand messaging will change over time and the competitive landscape will change over time. Without the continued support and review of search, your website is likely to fall behind the competitors. However, if you keep SEO as an integrated piece of the strategy your business will see continued success.