Why Branding is the Future of SEO
According to the EX-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, “the Internet is becoming a place where false information is thriving.” You might say the Internet is becoming a cesspool.
Schmidt goes on to say that brands were becoming more important signals whether or not content can be trusted.
“Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”
Source: Eric Schmidt
If you want to thrive in search for the foreseeable future, you must build a brand.
If you take a look at Google, you’ll see that it’s dominated by big brands—from Huffington Post to CNN. And while you might argue that these companies are doing well in search because they have a lot of content and backlinks, the bigger factor is that they have larger-than-life brands.
Neil Patel points out that when his traffic grew from 185,980 visitors a month in February 2016 to 454,382 visitors in August, it was due to one thing: his brand kept growing.
“The way Google looks at brands is that if a website gets a higher amount of brand queries than their competition (the number of people searching for your website name each month), it tells Google that people prefer that one brand over another,” explains Patel.
“When Google is determining where to rank a website for all of the terms they are optimizing for, they give more preference to the ones with the most popular brands because those are the sites that people prefer more.”
Source: Neil Patel
Here’s Why Google Loves Brands
Today, tools exist to help you optimize your on-page code with very little effort. There are plugins that will do most of your SEO work for you, and when it comes to links, you can use email outreach, guest posting, buying links, reciprocal link building, and content marketing.
One thing that is hard to build, though—no matter how good of a marketer you are—is a brand.
While marketing, SEO, building links, and publicity stunts might boost your search traffic in the short run, it won’t last long unless you continually build up your brand.
Bottom line: if you can’t maintain your brand’s popularity, your search traffic will die off. If, on the other hand, your brand continues to grow in popularity, so will your search traffic for all of your non-brand related terms.
How to Build Your Brand
As mentioned above, the key to doing well in search going forward from here is getting people to search for your brand name on a consistent basis.
According to Neil Patel, the only way to accomplish that is by creating value.
Patel blogs on a regular basis, as well as producing a daily podcast, educational videos, and speaking at conferences—all of which have resulted in the growth of his brand over the years.
Because branding strategies range from business to business, Patel suggests you review the strategies that have worked for him and incorporate the ones that best suit your company. Here are 6 to consider:
1. Blog weekly
When you blog on a regular basis, you can get more brand queries. That’s because when people are habitually expecting content from you, they’re more likely to Google your brand and return to your blog to read your latest content.
“There are tons of different factors that go into ranking well, but the biggest is high-quality content.”
Source: David Sinick
When Patel blogged daily, he generated 11% more brand queries than when he blogged once a week. This is why sites like CNN, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and other big news sites generate tons of brand queries.
As IMPACT points out, “Between lead generation, brand awareness, SEO, and thought leadership — there are few areas of marketing that don’t benefit from blogging.”
2. Create Videos
“Video has the ability to illustrate a brand’s story, personality, product, or even a mission faster than words alone,” says IMPACT.
And video, as a marketing tool, can easily be shared across social media. In fact, many platforms, including Facebook, are favoring video content more than ever before.
If you want to improve your conversion rates, like video has done for 72% of businesses surveyed, you should create some sort of video content related to your product, service, or industry.
Video helps more people see your brand and build a relationship with your company.
3. Speak at Workshops, Classes & Conferences
Every time Neil Patel speaks at conferences he sees an influx of brand queries.
Events are an effective strategy for increasing your brand’s exposure, sharing your key message, and generating some quality engagement with the media and your target audience, suggests The Muse.
“There’s no better way to promote your brand than to position yourself as an expert on a relevant topic or industry in front of an audience you care about.”
Source: The Muse
Whether it’s a networking breakfast, industry conference, or cocktail reception, an event can help you raise the visibility and credibility of your brand directly with an audience of your choosing. This means you’ll be reaching current and potential clients, key journalists, and industry influencers.
If you don’t have the time and resources to travel, you can go local. Volunteer to do workshops and classes at a retail store or speak at a community event. You can also team up with other businesses and organizations to host a special event or sponsor a charitable cause. All of these opportunities will help you increase awareness about your brand.
Keep in mind that reporters often write or blog about these events, generating press about your company and increasing the potential for brand queries. And if the venues you speak at upload videos of your speech to YouTube (or live streams the event on Facebook) you’ll see even more brand queries.
4. Give Away an Amazing Product or Service for FREE
“Freebies are an excellent way to increase brand awareness and may be an essential part of a company’s long-term growth,” says MoreBusiness.
The company goes on to suggest that giving away an amazing product or service for free helps businesses build a solid reputation that consumers won’t soon forget, leading to customer loyalty and repeat sales.
You can even increase website traffic by simply offering free giveaways. For example, Neil Patel’s web traffic skyrocketed when he improved on a competitor’s product and offered it to the public for free. Offering something of value for free encourages consumers to not only check your website for new giveaways but to read your website and learn about your product every time they visit.
Free giveaways are also a great way to spread word of mouth about your brand, product, and/or services. Winners of free giveaways are likely to share their good fortune with their friends and family, after all!
5. Consider Various Forms of Press
Companies like PRserve charge for performance-based press only, meaning if they get you press, you pay. If not, you don’t pay a dime. While this strategy won’t result in tons of brand queries at first, over time it will help.
If you’re more of a DIY person, check out Neil Patel’s article breaking down how to get press. This method takes longer and it’s harder than hiring someone, but with time and effort, you’ll see results.
You can also use sites like Help a Reporter Out, where journalists ask questions and people help them out. When you see a question related to your expertise or industry, you can respond and get free press.
Some forms of press will work better for your business than others, so make sure you do your research to discover the most beneficial strategies for your brand.
6. Release a Book
Publishing a book can be one of the most powerful marketing assets in your portfolio, with the potential to earn you media appearances, speaking gigs, consulting contracts, and coaching jobs, etc.
While this strategy works better for personal brands, publishing a book is nevertheless a great way to get more brand queries. You can even use companies that streamline the whole process for you.
Neil Patel advises writing a book about your expertise and not obsessing about being a New York Times Bestselling author. Focus, instead, on building a following within your space. It doesn’t do you any good to generate book sales from people who don’t care about your business.
According to Forbes, regardless of your business goals—whether they be lead generation, credibility building, passive income, etc.—writing a book is a meaningful brand and business builder.
“Branding may seem like a waste of money, but it isn’t,” says Neil Patel.
Consider how, when you think of athletic shoes, your mind naturally brings up “Nike.” You don’t have to look them up on Google. You just know about them because they’ve built a huge brand. The same is true of Visa. When you think of credit cards, Visa naturally comes to mind because their brand is recognizable everywhere.
We know, you’re not as big as these brands. But you can still learn from them. And the one thing you should take away from their examples is that you need to create a memorable brand in order to create more search queries. It may require time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run.
Big brands such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and the ones mentioned above, don’t generate the bulk of their sales from Google. They generate sales because they’ve created a brand that people trust and love. “The brand queries that they get on Google is just an added benefit,” explains Neil Patel.
Use the strategies above to help you build a brand that is loved and trusted by people in your space. Keep in mind that branding isn’t instant and it’s hard to manipulate. But it is the future of significantly increasing your search rankings!
Also published on Medium.