When marketers consider branding, search engine optimization typically doesn’t come to mind. SEO has long been used as a vehicle for driving highly qualified visitors to brands’ Web sites. But SEO is no longer just about driving traffic; it’s about building brand value and customer affinity.
There is often a power struggle within organizations as to how advertising dollars should be spent on branding versus SEO. Rather than fighting that tug of war for SEO budget, marketers can position SEO as part of their overall branding effort rather than a silo marketing channel.
Marketers’ requests for investment in SEO are made easier when they make the case for SEO’s brand- and online reputation-enhancing qualities.
Assess The Current State Of The Brand
How marketers proceed with their organic-branding efforts depends on the type of brand they are working with. An SEO branding strategy for a recognizable brand will be different than one for a challenger brand that does not yet have a strong presence in the marketplace.
Marketers working with recognizable brands should focus their SEO branding efforts on maintaining positive sentiment around the brand. If the brand is not well-known, time and resources will be best spent building visibility through increased non-branded keyword rankings.
Identify Sentiment Issues
In order to identify brand sentiment issues, it’s important to first understand what people are searching for, both about and around the brand. To identify those branded search queries, type the brand name into a Google search and note the autocomplete search suggestions.
Input those suggestions into a keyword suggestion/research tool, such as Google’s. This will provide a list of popular search phrases around the brand.
Once the most popular branded search queries have been identified, it’s time to check the sentiment around those phrases. Perform several manual searches for those keywords and review the search engine results to assess the brand sentiment.
Measure The Results
Traditional SEO results are fairly simple to measure. Marketers can track keyword rankings, traffic and conversions over time with hard numbers. When assessing the branding value of SEO efforts, the results are not quite as black and white. There are, however, some hard numbers marketers should analyze to see the brand effect.
An easy way to demonstrate the increase in brand awareness from an SEO branding campaign is to track the search volume of branded keywords using the Google AdWords keyword suggestion tool. Set a baseline of the monthly search volume around the branded keywords and track the changes over time. An increase in branded organic traffic and direct traffic should be present in the site analytics.
In order to track improvements from SEO in a brand’s reputation, analyze the conversion rates of the branded keywords via analytics or paid search data.
As consumers begin to see the positive sentiment being built around a brand and begin to trust that brand more, they will be much more likely to perform an action on the brand’s site. An increase in branded conversion rates is a good way to show the value of organic branding efforts.