More than 90% of online experiences begin with a search. There are roughly 6.5 billion searches performed every day, over 77% of which are done on Google.
Over the past couple decades, Google has become the “know-all” resource for just about every question imaginable, and it plays a momentous role in connecting customers to businesses.
So, what exactly is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of improving a website’s visibility organically. The search engines’ goal is to provide users with the most relevant and valuable content as possible upon entering a query. Based on a myriad of both on-site and off-site factors, the search engine algorithms will rank a webpage to determine its positioning on the results pages.
Keep in mind, the majority of Google searches never go beyond the first page. So, the constant goal in SEO is to get placed as close to the top as possible. With every passing hour, search engines are only getting smarter and more refined. That being said, a good SEO strategy needs to be a priority in your branding and marketing efforts. Here’s why.
Increases Online Presence
Building a brand is all about putting your messaging in front of as many eyes as possible. At its core, a good SEO plan does just that.
There are a number of strategies that factor into SEO. The most commonly associated aspect involves targeted keywords. Every piece of brand messaging should be properly supplemented with the terms and phrases trending in your industry.
Another key strategy involves link building. When the search engines are working to verify the trustworthiness of a website, the number of inbound and outbound links plays a big factor. Inbound links are the links from external websites that direct back to yours. Outbound links are on your website and direct to external sites. These types of links are an essential ingredient in determining your PageRank – which is crucial in establishing an online presence.
SEO should not just be thought of as a way to get more traffic to your website. Instead, it should be approached as a strategy to get more eyeballs on your brand in general. While clicks are ultimately the metric that holds the most importance in SEO, the more impressions your website gets on the first page of the Google results, the more people will associate your brand with certain key phrases.
Connects Marketing Channels
The modern marketing mix has many dimensions. As the basis of branding is all about consistency, the tactics used in SEO should align with every other marketing channel in your strategy.
- 1. Content Marketing – The search engines LOVE fresh content. Your content strategy forms the foundation of your SEO efforts – in terms of quality, keywords, linking, ect. It also accounts for a substantial part your budget. This should be considered throughout everything your brand produces.
- 2. Paid Search – Paid search, or pay-per-click, is a strategy that is designed and executed around keyword research. Your SEO planning is VERY closely tied to this marketing channel.
- 3. Social Media – The more your content gets shared and engaged with, the more natural links you stand to pick up. Social media is critical for building an audience these days. In turn, doing so increases the likelihood that people will click on your branded content within a Google search.
- 4. Web Design and Development – SEO is about more than just written content. When it comes to web design and development, the search engines factor in website speed, mobile friendliness, bounce rate, technical audits, sharing, and more. With this in mind, SEO and development teams need to work as a unit in order to reap the benefits.
When it comes to marketing and branding, SEO should act as a guide that plays a part in directing your efforts to achieve higher visibility.
Business-consumer relationships have always revolved around trust.
One of the most interesting aspects of digital marketing is how much human psychology is involved. When you are trying to build a brand presence online, chances are, you are competing with hundreds – if not thousands – of other companies trying to do the same thing. Most users give psychological rankings to certain brands based on the search results.
Appearing higher up in the rankings creates a profound sense of credibility in the mind of the user. Being placed on page one gives a theoretical stamp of approval that doesn’t just help people to find you online, but makes it easier to trust you and your messaging.
This concept is what makes SEO absolutely vital in branding and marketing.
Unlike the days of marketing before the internet, SEO gives businesses the opportunity to reach massive audiences without a gigantic budget. SEO is an entity in which strategy and ingenuity make all the difference. It levels the playing field where the tiniest of startups can compete with the giant enterprises.
The best part, companies don’t have to sink thousands and thousands of dollars into SEO right off the bat. They are able start small and test the waters, measure the results, and tweak the approach to improve ROI.
The reason SEO is so cost-effective is because it targets users who are actively searching for products, services, and answers related to your brand online. As opposed to outbound marketing methods, like cold calling, you aren’t wasting time and resources reaching people who may or may not be interested in what you offer. The web traffic you receive as a result of SEO will likely be much more qualified than what you will get with other strategies.
SEO is a concept where no two approaches are the same.
It’s important to note that the search engines are famously unpredictable. Google makes it a point to keep the finer details of their algorithms a secret from everyone else. At Ayokay, we know that success in this field is dependent on understanding brand motives, keeping a close eye on analytics and trends in the field, and making constant strives to refine a strategy. These are the factors that must dictate all SEO actions.
Jack Shepler is a Marketing and Search Engine Optimization expert. He founded Ayokay, award-winning marketing, and web design firm in Indianapolis, Indiana that has built brands, increased sales for businesses, and helped nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions since 2011. He uses his decades of experience to educate through the Ayokay blog and through public speaking. You can follow him on LinkedIn.