The convergence of SEO and Branding with Omi Sido

The convergence of SEO and Branding

Very often I see people online talking about SEO and branding, comparing them both and even arguing which one is better. So let’s be clear about one thing. SEO and branding are two completely different animals and they can and they should work together.

Today I’m gonna try and explain why.

But first thing first. To understand the importance of SEO for branding and branding for SEO we have to start from the bottom.

So the beginning is the understanding of the difference between branding and marketing.

Why do people always think that branding and marketing are the same things? You go and visit a client and he is like tweeting about their latest offer. And he thinks this is branding. He is re-posting on Facebook and he thinks this is branding. In general, he thinks that being on social media is branding.
Google it and I bet you money the first 5 statements are wrong or at least not entirely clear….understand correct.

So let’s clarify this statement. First, there is an internal, the initial part, and then there is an external branding.

What is internal branding?

Internal branding is the drilling we put ourselves through to ask those very simple questions:

  • Why are we here?
  • What is our business about?
  • What is its value?
  • What is its unique value on the marketplace?
  • What do we bring to the table that nobody else has?
  • What’s our message?
  • What’s the story, the journey we are taking the customers on?

That’s the internal branding. If try to skip this step you are bound for an online disaster.

“Companies that cannot successfully answer what they do fail to then understand how they can continue to do it in the face of change.” – David Amerland

Now let’s talk about the external branding.

What is external branding?

I would explain external branding with a cliche, but one that is spot on:
Your branding is eventually what other people say about you, no matter what you think.
Shall repeat this one slightly modified: Your brand is what other people are whispering about you when you are not in the room.

And that’s how you eventually judge and make predictions for your business.You get your branding in mind, you start creating the content that flows out of that brand and that brand image and that brand value.

And then you take that out in the social media world and share it, engage with it, use it to create things.

Your next step is to start listening. What are people saying back?

As people start to talk and interconnect with your business what they think you are is fundamentally what your brand really is.
And it does not matter that you may shout and shout: “Hey people wait a minute. This is not me. You are getting it wrong”.
It is not their fault. It is your fault. You are not conveying it right and you have to go back to the drawing boards and ask the question: What are we doing wrong that people are not apprehending who we are and what we really are?

Because this is a fundamental marketing truth that cannot be denied: Consumers build brands, not companies. Consumers are the ones that give value to the brands and businesses should enhance this value by striving to deliver a consistent brand experience that clients can trust.

And so the marketing part then is all the things that you do. And this gets down to the individual channels, what do we do differently on Linkedin. Shall we advertise on TV or Facebook? Are we gonna share our articles on Google Plus or LinkedIn?
What do we do in terms of community involvement and events that we attend and participating? That’s marketing (we can also call it brand marketing).

So now that we know the difference between branding and marketing let’s talk about SEO.

Nine out of ten times when I talk to companies and the so-called digital marketing directors there is always one issue coming up.

“Omi, we have an amazing brand, we know what we are trying to achieve, we know our unique business proposition. On the other hand, we have an amazing digital marketing team, but we still struggle online”.

And then nine out of ten times they did not connect their branding and marketing efforts together. Why?

There is a very simple answer: SEO. SEO is the missing link, the Yeti of the evolution from branding to digital marketing. SEO is part of the branding process, but SEO is also part of marketing.

Let’s start with the simple keyword research. All SEO’s do it on a daily basis. As an SEO, I may call it keyword research. As a marketer, you should probably call it defining my targeted audience. You will be surprised how many companies are trying to sell products and services online without doing the simplest of SEO tasks – keyword research.

Not defying your buyer’s persona will always gonna end up in disaster.

Keywords are like a compass – they tell you where to go and whether not to go because is already overcrowded. Unless you like tight spaces of course.

Keyword research is the marketing of 21 century.

The so-called marketers don’t do it because it’s a pure SEO task. SEOs do it but only because they want to attract the google bots.
The truth is keyword research can help you figure out the needs, the thinking and the desires of your targeted market. It can also help you to understand what the market is thinking about you. And you can use it to your advantage.

Let me give you a famous example. Actually not quite sure that it’s famous but for sure is spot on. A couple of years ago Yost realised that every time people are searching for their product they use the keywords WordPress and Google Analytics in connection with their brand name.
Not a very difficult research actually, just go to the Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush and type your brand name. If you don’t know the keyword planner ask your SEO.

So by putting 2 and 2 together Yost renamed their plugins to ‘Yost SEO’ from ‘Wordpress SEO’ and what was originally ‘Google Analytics Plugin’ became ‘Google Analytics by Yost’. Now I am sure you get the drift straight away. Their brand name is Yost, not WordPress or Google Analytics but by combining them both they legally hijacked two keywords with a massive search volume to work for their benefit.
Go on and type WordPress SEO. What do you see appearing in the Google suggest box? Yoast SEO. SEO and branding at it best.

Wordpress SEO Yoast

So it’s time for a power tip: In the ‘Alt’ tag of your images, and I know most of you don’t pay any attention to those, insert your brand name. Ask your SEO to crawl your website with Screaming Frog and give you the location of all your images.You don’t want any other brands popping up when somebody is looking for your brand in the picture search.

Note: I hope you understand that there is no point connecting your brand name and an image button.

Also connected to images give Google something that they really understand: schema. Even better combine logo schema with keyword rich alt tag for a better SEO impact.

<div itemscope itemtype="https://schema.org/logo">

<a itemprop="url" href="http://www.yourwebsite.com/"><img itemprop="logo" src="http://www.yourwebsite.com/keyword-targeted-image-file-name.png"
alt="keyword targeted alt tag"/></a>

</div>

My second power tip will be: Always put your brand name in your Page Title. I know there are so many arguments on the web about whether or not to do it. If you think that you cannot have a Page title accommodating 55 characters plus Brand Name include it anyway. Google will cut your page title off anyway so there is nothing to worry about. But Google will associate the keywords in your Page Title with your brand. I’ve even seen Google cutting off a page title in order to display brand name. Now you’ve got something to think about.

So far we’ve been talking about SEO helping branding.

But can your brand boost your SEO?

Will start with an example. I’ve seen many people complaining about Google giving a boost of famous brands in the SERPs. They are like: I can never fight with the big brands because Google loves them and they are always number one and two in the SERPs.

So let’s examine this statement from a consumer’s point of view.
The other day I was looking for new tyres for my motorbike.
As usual, I sit in front of my Mac and I type ‘Motorcycle tyres’. Probably cheap motorcycle tyres. Imagine I see 4 websites appearing in position number one, two, three and four.

Omi Sido SEO and Branding Connection

The first one is www.davidamelrandstyres.com. I don’t know about you but I would be very sceptical about buying motorbike tyres from a writer. I love my life you know.

Second comes www.fateyestyres.com They even say they are the best on the market. I know Gina, I like her a lot but I know her more as a writer. Her writing is good but I’d rather check URL number 3: www.altayrtyres.com (difficult to pronounce, I know).

As far as I know Zara Altair was a teacher. I should probably do my homework before buying from her.

So I am left with URL number 4. And this is Pirelli. See the first 3 websites are well optimised from an SEO point of view, from a semantic point of view even local SEO point of view. This is exactly why the Googlebots are ranking them high. The problem is I do not know those brands. So I click on URL number four.

Google has a well-defined brand identity: we give you the best possible result. So imagine the next day the way Google is thinking – well yesterday 5 000 million people were looking for motorbike tyres and 95% of them clicked on the URL coming in the fourth position. I believe you gonna agree with me that this is the URL that has to be so to speak unnaturally boosted by Google to position number one. And it’s not Google. The consumer boosted this URL by choosing one more recognised brand over another.

Now tell me there is no point in developing your brand name using SEO techniques. Or you do not understand the importance of developing a recognised brand name in order to boost your SEO. The end result – more qualified visits and money coming your way.

“Brand is a huge factor in SEO, as it affects click-thru, exemplifies ‘trust’ factors, and generally provides a sort of benchmark for all rivalry. Additionally, many searches that return huge amounts of information actually create doubt, uncertainty, and in such situations, most customers stick with what they know. Brands get business where doubt and uncertainty prevail” – Ammon Johns

Social Media and Your Marketing Strategy

How to Begin Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix

Some thoughts after reading ‘How to Begin Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix’ by Olga Andrienko.

I believe nowadays most companies around the world realize the great importance social media brings to the modern marketing. Social media gives chance to marketers to communicate with current and potential clients on a completely new level – deep and personal.

So before jumping on the social media wagon a good strategy is needed.

“Communication without a specific focus is just noise” (David Amerland – Google+ Hangouts for Business).

Selecting the hottest trend may give you this initial win, but as history has shown us a long term strategy is ‘the name of the game’.

And social media is a game.

Find a reason to play this game with your customers, get them involved, interact with them so you give them a reason to come back to you.

Get everybody involved.

How to Begin Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix

I am talking about two way interaction.

“Marketing and social media truly belong to the realm of artful dialogue, open two-way communication and meaningful creation” (Teodora Petkova).

Create a buzz around your brand and people will start talking about you to others – online and offline.

“Your branding really ultimately is what other people say about you, no matter what you think’ (Mark Traphagen)

While embracing social media do not forget your website. There is a reason Olga Andrienko talks about your website before anything else.

“Your website is an asset. A business asset.It’s the single online property you can own and control” (Gina Fiedel – Why Your Website Is An Asset For You & Customers).

I see many companies devoting all their efforts to social media only. Social media platforms are coming and going. Your website should be ‘your home, base-camp, hub, anchor’.

Sometimes you may get lost in the social media jungle. You need a safe place to go back to.

Which reminds me straight away that when a customer arrives at your doorstep (normally your homepage) he comes there for a reason. The reason is Google sent him there to find an answer to his question/problem/need.
Why did #Google send him to your website?
The answer to this question is very simple – your content.

Without content  you will only get search traffic from people already aware of your brand, who are searching for you by name. Content (marketing) gives you the chance to attract search traffic from broad range of search terms, massively increasing the number of inbound clicks to your website.

By the way when the Google people were talking about creating valuable, relevant, and in-depth content they meant write articles like Olga Andrienko – leave no stone unturned about the subject you are talking about. In the words of Nina Trankova ‘Great article, very supportive and systematic’.

This is the reaction you want from your future customers.

 

The main aim/purpose of marketing is to create a demand for your product

If a product is not selling well, there is a reason for that. Even if your #business created a product or service that solves a problem or opens an opportunity, sometimes, the market still doesn’t register that there is a problem in the first place.

So let me give you a simple advice here. Before you speak, listen.

To create demand you have to know who your potential customers are. Not their names or even emails. You have to know the questions they are asking. The needs they have. How they are recommending you products to peers. In a way what are they saying about direct competitors and how do they see your products compare to your competition.

Only by truly knowing your future prospects you can provide useful answers to their questions and incorporate the words from peers-telling-peers into such content. You need some attention grabbing here so to speak.

the-main-purpose-of-marketing-is-to-create-demand-for-your-product

Once the attention is there keep your clients focused on your product. Show them not why you think your product is superior, but why what you have to offer is the best for them. Did you get this? It’s all about them, not you. And because you did complete step one you are only giving them things (more like words) they want to hear (smiling).

Magically entering people’s subconscious minds and commanding them to buy from YOU!

Now is the time enter the ‘demand funnel’. To design offers that really work we should look at them from the customer’s perspective.

Make offers that keep the dialog going – while taking your clients on a journey.

Your ‘demand funnel’ should include multiple customer touch points, from blogging, to email list creation, to social media promotions. And at no point of the journey your future prospects should be left alone (but always making them feeling like they are pulling the strings).

The victory of your demand generation stems from your ability to connect with target customers. All you need to get started is a point of reference. So listen carefully and you will find it.

PS. The wonderful quote in the beginning came from a HOA organised by Social Media Today and called “Keeping it Real” in a Social Media World (with Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales, David Amerland and special guest Vincent Messina) here: http://goo.gl/WwrHge.

Many good people said many good things in this HOA.

Some of the highlights of this amazingly educational show.

“The buyer doesn’t care how they get what they need, and how they are informed, as long as they are informed” – Vincent Messina

“would you not agree, inside marketing are two types of goals and one is to get sales (i.e. direct response)  and another is to communicate a message (i.e. branding)…” – Imran Sq

“About metrics on social. Sure, we’re getting better and better at understanding the signals we’re creating, and understanding them. But I still hold firm to a belief that more than all of that is going on between people.” – Gina Fiedel

“ Vin and David think entirely opposite… That’s why I’m friends with both” – Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales  LOL 🙂

“Tone, message are very difficult to manage in online/email and that’s one reason we need to stop guessing at “motive” when someone asks a question. Maybe, they just want an answer… maybe they have an ulterior motive… you can never know so just answer and see what happens next.” – Mark Vang. I’m gonna keep on coming to this message over and over. I know it cause it says a lot.

“…saying I don’t know is great and needed.” – Teodora Petkova

“Good marketing is sales. Good sales is marketing……No sale for income/revenue, no marketing.” – Danny Brown

“So much that happens on social is immeasurable. If we’re always overly focused on metrics, we lose sight of our humanity.” – Gina Fiedel. Go and check out this articles of hers goo.gl/RTAmZT and tell me are you not in love with her writing 🙂

“So, if everything is marketing, Is marketing everything?” by Tanya LumereCharles Payet gave quite an interesting answer to this question: “Everything is either Marketing or Practice.  Either they are marketing, practicing, or practicing their marketing”. I kinda agree.

“Keeping it Real” in a Social Media World – goo.gl/WwrHge