The importance of the customer-facing work that goes into brand management is clear. Your organization has likely cultivated its look, voice, and mission over time — and carefully guards those elements to maintain credibility with its customers. But sometimes all of that effort still doesn’t translate to conversions: maybe traffic isn’t coming to your website, or maybe the traffic you’re getting is brief and unproductive. Have you given any thought to how SEO brand strategy plays a part in your success?
SEO brand strategy may be the missing piece.
Search engine optimization may not be the first thing you think of when you’re working to protect and promote your brand. It may not seem sexy, but it’s a vital piece of brand strategy that can help differentiate you in a sea of visually-polished competitors. The Internet is full of choices, and differentiation is key to cut through the clutter, obtain traffic, and turn that traffic into sales. Building qualified traffic and converting that traffic into customers doesn’t require “black-hat” SEO or clever tricks to outsmart Google. It requires building trust.
Whether or not you have a physical presence — like a brick-and-mortar store, or an office for clients to visit — your website will almost always be the first point of contact for your customers. The Internet never closes, so your site is your 24/7 brand ambassador and must impeccably reflect your brand promise. It should represent your organization as competent, trustworthy, and the answer to all of their needs… none of which will happen if customers can’t find your site!
If search engines can’t find you, neither will your customers.
In order for customers to find (and love) your business, your site has to show up in search engine results. Taking the proper steps to ensure search engines can find, crawl, index and understand your site’s structure will allow for the best possible online visibility — but that’s only part of the equation. Once the engines send potential customers your way, you need to convey that your site is trustworthy, that you’ll take care of their information and hard-earned cash. In other words, search engines can only get customers to your site; it’s up to you to give them a reason to stay (and convert).
Here are five practical ways that SEO can help you safeguard your brand and build trust in your website:
Be HTTPS compliant
Last year, Google announced that HTTPS sites (the additional “s” stands for secure) would not only be ranked ahead of HTTP sites, but non-secure sites would not allow personal transactions, such as shopping or entry of personal data.
With the majority of online searches coming from Google, this creates a huge traffic loss for sites not currently HTTPS compliant — not only from a search engine perspective, but also from a user perspective. Browsers now warn users that your site isn’t secure, often at the moment of a transaction, sometimes blocking it entirely. Don’t earn traffic only to lose sales; make the switch to HTTPS as soon as possible. Here are some tips on how.
Keep an eye on backlinks
If your mother reprimanded you for hanging out with a bad crowd, she may have known a thing or two about SEO best practices. The old adage that “you can tell the quality of a person by the reputation of their friends” is applicable in the digital age: websites are also judged (by search engines) by those who connect to them. Your site’s backlink profile can sometimes pick up links that are undesirable, spammy, and potentially harmful.
A backlink review should be done every month to monitor the newly obtained links, ensuring nothing out of the ordinary or detrimental is occurring in your backlink profile. When reviewing your backlink profile, look for sites with low domain authority, low trust, spammy anchor text or sites that do not relate to your industry.
More is not always better, especially in SEO, so don’t focus on quantity but rather quality. Look for sites with a high domain authority that topically relate to your site and properly use anchor text when linking to your site. If you’re looking to learn more about strategic link building to improve your search engine rankings, check out Point It’s recommendations here.
Optimize on-page, off-page, and technical elements
I never get tired of saying this: your website is your connection to users. Proper optimization of your site, including technical and UX components, are of utmost importance.
To name a few areas of consideration:
- Your About and Contact pages should help build your story and create an avenue for direct contact
- Your social media channels should be easily accessed as well as set up for users to directly share or retweet content from your site
- You should conduct a site audit to identify areas of opportunity for both content and technical upgrades to ensure your site is set up for success and online visibility
Remember: optimization is not a one-and-done effort. Ranking factors change, your content evolves. The target is always moving, and you have to keep moving with it to keep your site optimized and your traffic healthy. There’s never a dull moment in the SEO game.
Don’t neglect the need for quality content
And of course, don’t forget great content! Content is the connection between your users and your site. It’s why they stay once they’ve arrived. Well-written content increases users’ time on your site and helps build connection and awareness to your brand. Carefully crafted content, written in language that accurately represents who you are and what you do, should be at the core your online presence.
Once you’ve crafted quality content, be sure people know it’s there! Use social media to promote content (and connect with users) amplifies your brand reach and awareness, thus building trust in a crowded and noisy online environment. Adhere to a regular social cadence and monitor your social channels in real-time to ensure you are protecting your brand and creating a meaningful dialog with your audience.
Take advantage of reviews
Reviews can be a real boon for sites, providing fresh content and bolstering credibility for your organization. Google no longer supports reviews from non-purchasers, meaning reviews can only be submitted by verified purchasers of goods or services from an organization. Companies are required to opt-in to have reviews of their businesses shown, encouraging an atmosphere of consumer trust by welcoming honest reviews — both positive and negative — and displaying them to would-be customers.
To sum up
These five points are a few of the many intersections where SEO can help your other efforts at brand stewardship while driving real results. As with traditional marketing, success boils down to getting the right message to the right people at the right time — and on the right platform. Adhering to the above guidelines will help ensure a solid online presence while protecting your brand and building trust with your users.
Have questions, or want to share your company’s success story? We love SEO and want to hear all about it — let us know in the comments section below!
If you’re interested to see the real-world impact of Point It’s SEO expertise for PEMCO Insurance, read the case study here.