SEO gets a lot of press, so much so that people who don’t even know how it works know they want it. It’s the magic cure-all of the digital age that, when used lavishly, catapults businesses to stardom. The thing is, it’s not what companies should be focusing on at all. There’s something far more powerful at play: your brand. Give me five minutes of your time, and I’ll explain why.
Search Engines Want to Make the User Happy
Google and other search engines have always had one mission in mind. They want to deliver the results the user wants to see. Over the years, they’ve changed up the signals they use to detect what a user wants the most, but the core philosophy remains the same.
Gaming the System Doesn’t Work
Early on, people realized Google was looking for keywords on websites. Webmasters caught on and started shoving them everywhere on pages, going so far as to match their text to the page’s color so people wouldn’t see that certain words were written dozens of times at the bottom of pages. Finally, Google got wise to this, changed their guidelines, and rolled out a new algorithm that caught this so-called “keyword stuffing” and began rewarding sites that didn’t use the technique, giving them better search engine rank.
Then, people caught on that Google was looking at links to a site, so marketers started trying to get their links on every website imaginable. Google caught onto this too and started rewarding first page rank only to sites with links on reputable or high-quality sites. The list goes on. Each time companies try to game the system, Google finds a way to detect it and reward the sites that are authentically the best choice to display to that user at that moment.
Traditional SEO Doesn’t Always Work, Either
Once you leave the realm of “black hat” or questionable SEO techniques, you land in the territory of “white hat” SEO techniques. These are the honest and ethical best practices businesses use to get their sites to rank better, such as including keywords naturally in content, contributing content to high-quality websites or networking to get solid links back, and building a website that genuinely meets visitors’ needs. The problem is that everybody is doing this nowadays. It takes a lot more money and time to develop high rankings because of this. Moreover, big brands have been at it for years, which means it’s virtually impossible for a newcomer to slip into the space using SEO tactics alone.
Authentic Brands Win Every Time
At the end of the day, Google still wants to give the user what they want. The paradigm must be shifted. It shouldn’t be about appeasing Google and getting rank. It must be about building your brand using proven strategies.
Develop Excellent Products and Services that Meet Customer Needs
No matter what industry you’re in or what your business offers, make sure that your products or services fill an unmet need and delight your customers.
Distinguish Your Brand
As a business owner, you need to develop a strategy that makes your company distinguishable from other companies that provide similar products and services. Once you have a cohesive message, stick to it and share it everywhere your business exists. As time goes on, it’ll be your branding that keeps your company’s name at the forefront of minds.
Aim for Branded Search Results
Whether your company is a start-up or has been functioning for several years, branded keywords and branded searches are important. While it may sound straightforward, it isn’t always easy to have a top rank for your own brand name. Branded searches show user intent, so when a google search is done for your business name, the customer knows exactly what they want. This is why it is important that your business have a memorable name. Google My Business is a free tool that can help you see how your business ranks on Google search.
Provide Superior Service
As the old saying goes, “It costs less to keep a customer than to find a new one.” Research shows it’s 5-25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer, but in the digital age, poor service won’t just cost you one customer. The bad review that customer leaves could potentially cost you hundreds or more. Make providing superior service a priority.
Deliver Value with Your Digital Footprint
True, people searching for your company by name may already know that they want to do business with you, but they have many options. The thing that turns a casual visitor into a customer and keeps them loyal is the relationship you build. Your website and social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) can be your best “salespeople,” but only if they’re delivering real value to the people who engage with your company.
If You Deliver Authenticity, You’ll Rank Regardless
By now, you probably see why all these things matter for the sake of building a strong company, but how exactly does that help you rank better and get more press online?
Great Products and Services Get Buzz
The better your products or services are, the more likely people are to talk about them and share their experiences. This results in mentions of your brand online, links back to your site, and Google searches for your company—all things Google uses to decide which listings to show someone when they run a search query.
Top Brands are Searched for More
When word spreads about what you’re offering, people come to know your company by name, and they look for you more often online because of that familiarity which increases your website’s organic traffic. This demonstrates popularity to Google, which again shows the search engine that a person looking for what you have to offer probably wants to see your offerings.
Superior Service Results in Rave Reviews
When you provide great service, and people leave rave reviews and testimonials, it serves as word-of-mouth marketing. The buzz and links back to your site tell search engines that you have a brand people care about and want to know. Great reviews also seal the deal when someone is on the fence about whether to engage with your brand.
Value Keeps People Engaging
People won’t come back for repeated sales pitches, but they will come back if you give them something useful or a pleasant experience. More often than not, this is done through content; helpful and educational blog posts, tips shared through social media, informative videos, and so on. Google catches all these little interactions and rewards the sites by giving them better rank.
Ready to Build a Better Brand and Boost SEO?
As a marketing consultant and educator with a background in both business and marketing, as well as experience working with some of the world’s biggest brands, I can help you grow a thriving company too. Contact me to discuss your needs.