Why Brand Matters in Organic SEO

Many years ago when I was a pre-digital marketer, when we couldn’t or didn’t measure (shame on us!) the direct results of every marketing initiative, we readily used “brand exposure” as a catch-all for marketing goodness.

Content thiefMany years ago when I was a pre-digital marketer, when we couldn’t or didn’t measure (shame on us!) the direct results of every marketing initiative, we readily used “brand exposure” as a catch-all for marketing goodness.

For example, a tradeshow appearance that netted disappointing sales was deemed to have offered “good brand exposure.” As I worked my way up as a marketer, it became increasingly apparent that “good brand exposure” was the refuge of programs of dubious value and tactics that just didn’t quite work out as planned. The result was that I became a confessed doubter of the value of most branding programs.

Then, as we roared into the digital age, where the measurement and metrics for digital marketing initiatives have bloomed, I have heard fewer initiatives whitewashed as “good brand exposure.” Over time, I have rethought my personal skepticism on what is good brand exposure and consequently the value of branding.

Success in Mobile and Organic Search Requires Strong Branding

All marketers want the searcher to look for their name, their brand and their site. This is obvious, but what is not so obvious is how branding efforts now play through in organic search.

Google typically shows a company’s name as the first organic search result. The value of name recognition is evident. Searchers looking for you by name will be delivered to you.

With the shrunken screens on mobile devices and their impact on how the search results page displays, brand name recognition is ever more important. Imprinting your name, correctly spelled, is today of utmost importance. This becomes very important when there are multiple companies with similar names, all vying for that top spot in the search results.

For pure-play e-commerce vendors, whose domain is a surrogate for their brand name, domain name recognition equals brand recognition. The No. 1 spot for their domain name in the search results is essential to their success.

Seems easy, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

There is a wrinkle. Without the support of additional branding efforts, it is easy for name-confusion to replace name-recognition. Scrapers and counterfeiters operating overseas often exploit name similarity by buying domain names similar to a leading online-only merchant. Unless there is strong brand protection and support to create the overall brand personality for the business, then the searcher can be easily misled and duped into buying from a look-alike, name-almost-alike merchant.

Brand protection should be a key part of the online e-commerce search strategy. This protection may require that you purchase domain names that are not just the usual misspellings but also those that might be exploited by a scraper.

The second level of protection requires going after counterfeiters and scrapers who steal your traffic and your business.

Part of your branding efforts should focus on making sure that your potential customers will enter your name correctly in the search box. This cries for consistency across all online media platforms.

All too frequently, I have seen companies that give their social media accounts cutesy names. These efforts, while creative, do not assist in building name recognition so that your name will be accurately placed in a search box.

While you are at it, check to see what is delivered in that first search result and see if it actually reflects what a searcher might come looking for. Then, you will truly be getting “good brand exposure.”

Author: Amanda G. Watlington, Ph.D.

Amanda is the founder of Searching for Profit, a search marketing strategy consultancy; and CEO of City Square Consulting, a management consulting firm. Amanda is an internationally recognized author, speaker and search marketing pioneer. Her consultancy focuses on using organic search to drive traffic to customer sites. She is an expert on the use of language for search. Her clients have included well-known and emerging brands.
The purpose of this blog is to provide insights and tips for how to use search profitably. It will cut through the volumes of information that threaten to overwhelm the busy marketer and will focus on what is truly important for making search work.

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