SEO & Brand – Partners in Crime?

Good SEO and good branding have something in common: They are built to last.

Blue sky, partial Google logo underneath Liam Hennessy, Digital Strategist

After copywriting, SEO was the next step in my digital marketing journey. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was also my first introduction to brand awareness.

Back then I had a “simple” project: optimize websites for online dating site reviews, drive traffic and generate revenue from that traffic. I absorbed everything I could about competitor analysis, keyword placement, research, link-building… you name it.

Over time as I monitored traffic, updated content, searched for new keywords and products, I started to notice something. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for presentation, but…

…our brand sucked.

Visually and textually.

Our website design was stuck in the early 2000s.

It was bland, the logo was goofy. In fact, apart from the traffic generated it didn’t stand out from a lot of other dating site review comparisons. And there were a lot of them.

Of course, we still generated traffic and made money. That is the point of an affiliate marketing company, anyway.

So, then: why am I fussing over branding? Why not just focus on continually analyzing, optimizing and updating? Well…

SEO means your website (read: brand) could be visible online for years, regular maintenance or not.

Depending on how well you optimize it in the first place, of course.

Let’s say your site falls out of use. Even without maintenance, money/traffic could still roll in for a good long time. Even after those affiliate links have died, users may still stumble across it.

And… Those users will still see your brand!

If it’s still good, it’ll stick. Even if your website is a bit outdated.

Now, imagine you want to revive the site, just like we decided to do with our basically dead Dutch dating reviews site. You still have a solid base, from both a traffic and a branding perspective. Sure, it may need a (very large) amount of polishing, but it will be faster and easier than starting form complete scratch.

Additionally…

If your brand is prominent enough, people may even forgo search engines and go directly to your website.

How many of us go straight to Amazon when we shop online?

I do. All. The. Time.

A brand that stands out and captures the essence of your website and your service will command a loyalty that can last for years.

Good News, Everyone: Your Brand Doesn’t Have to Be Fancy

If you have a good product, you should definitely invest time and money into cultivating your brand. In saying that, it doesn’t have to be ground-breaking. It should, however, be memorable, consistent and distinct.

Consider the following website:

Screenshot of DatingSitesReview.com. Liam Hennessy, Digital Strategist

The Wayback Machine tells us that DatingSiteReviews.com has been around since 2006, at least. I took that screenshot a few minutes ago. Really, look at it: it’s like a throwback to the 2000s.

Upon closer inspection, you see that it has a lot of regularly updated content as well as user-generated content. It has a forum/community and some presence on social media. It dominates the search terms for countless keywords in the online dating industry in the US (at least back when I worked on those projects).

While the design may be wanting, its SEO solid and it’s (basic) brand is memorable, consistent and distinct.

SEO & Brand: What’s Your Point?

SEO and brand awareness should be part of your long-term marketing strategy from day one. Whether you’re a sole proprietor, an SMB or a large corporation. Alongside your airtight SEO strategy, you need a solid brand marketing strategy. Like I said before, it doesn’t have to be fancy. It should be memorable, consistent and distinct.

Think of it this way: if you optimize well, search engines will remember your website. If you do branding right, people (users) will remember you.

Any professional SEO can prove this by throwing up measurable results from their analytics tools. Brand awareness is less of an exact science, but history serves probably the best evidence of its effectiveness.

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