By: Alex Fernandez
Internet Marketing Specialist
One of the most fundamental marketing lessons I took away from my days at Florida Gulf Coast University with Dr. Ludmilla Wells, was this principle: “You CANNOT market in a vacuum,” meaning that there will always be external factors, such as competition, environmental factors, industry trends, etc., that you will have to adapt to. Simply ignoring these factors can render a great idea absolutely useless.
The topic I want to address today is building a brand with online competition and SEO in mind, or “Branding for SEO”. One of our specialties at Pushing the Envelope is establishing online presences for our clients, whether it’s building them a website, landing page, social media account, or online directory listing. However, often times we will find that the client hasn’t considered online competition when they built their brand, as if search engine ranking pages (SERPs) and Internet marketing in general was an afterthought.
Internet marketing and search engine marketing is not the “wave of the future” as it is often tritely described. Internet marketing and search marketing is NOW. I would even go further to say that mobile marketing is also NOW. These mediums should be the first consideration for anyone that is creating a new brand. A few questions you should ask:
What are your domain options?
- A costly domain isn’t usually a great move for a start-up.
What are the top three results for each keyword or key phrase you are targeting?
- These are your search engine competitors, which could vary greatly from your offline competitors.
How active are your search engine competitors online and on social media channels?
- It might behoove you to find ways to be different and avoid an uphill battle from the start.
These questions might seem uber-simple, but they can save you thousands of dollars in time and web development costs, which will make you more profitable long-term. Here are a few principles to follow when branding for SEO:
Check the search results first!
Whenever I have idea for a new website, the first thing I do is see if anyone has come up with a similar or better idea before me. As brilliant as we like to think we are, the law of large numbers will always prompt me to perform a quick benchmark search inquiry. Why? Because if I thought of it, there is a high probability that a large number of people before me thought of it, too.
To illustrate let’s say you type in the prospective brand name and you see several other companies doing business under that name. Perhaps all but one company are doing business in a different industry. You are going to look at the one search competitor within your industry, and click through to their website, blog and social media. Is everything well designed, up to date, creative, content-laden, etc.? Will you be in direct competition with them? If so, you might want to rethink starting off with an uphill battle.
Own your brand on the major search engines.
Another concept of branding for SEO is owning as much of the web under your brand name as possible. Search for popular business directories such as DMOZ, BOTW, etc. – there are thousands of others. Then add your company information, keywords, links, any information they will allow you to include. Each new directory you setup for your business will generate an additional backlink to your business.
Another step to take is local SEO, if your business is a brick and mortar company with specific locations. You can place additional listing for your business on popular local search and user review websites, such as yelp, MerchantCircle, Trip Advisor, YP, superpages, and more.
The end result is your business “owning” the SERPs for your brand keywords. If you type your brand into Google, you want more than just #1 – you want 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and so on.
Grow your brand without destroying it.
To illustrate this – think about the “New Coke” crisis that the Coca-Cola Company had in the 1980s. By creating a new beverage and discontinuing the old beverage, they essentially alienated their customers and abandoned the brand equity of Coca-Cola Classic.
This is a great way to think about branding for SEO. It’s important as your company grows, to keep in mind that you should never abandon the brand equity that you have built. It can take multiple years for some companies to reach number one for their targeted keywords – only for them to decide that they want to change their brand name. Make sure your brand strategy is clearly defined before changing your online presence.
You might want to add a brand extension, or create a separate website for your parent brand, rather than changing your current name in order to avoid unnecessary losses. For example, SC Johnson is the parent brand for Windex, which has a dedicated landing page for it’s Windex Outdoor Shine product. Each of these company names work together to create brand equity, without detracting from one another.
If you have questions about how you should go about launching your next big idea, or if you want to grow your brand without losing your brand’s equity, please contact us! We’re here to help you succeed.