Last week, my daughter picked out movie about a young rock star who retired from her career to discover her true identity, learning that even her name wasn’t the one she’d be given at birth. She ended the movie singing in a large festival, re-introducing herself to the world with her new style and sound. In essence, she re-branded herself.
It got me thinking — isn’t that really what SEO promotion is about? Successful search engine optimization requires that you find out who you truly are and what you represent. If you’ve done that correctly, SEO promotion and brand building go hand-in-hand.
Brand-Building Basics: Getting to Know Yourself
Five years ago, Forbes published a piece on building your personal brand — defining who you really are as an individual and leader to take charge of your professional reputation. This is a great place to start for any individual, but is especially important for business owners and influencers looking to build their corporate brand.
Think about it. If companies are regularly using Google to find and screen current and prospective employees on social media, how much more are they using those tools to learn about the people who own and operate the companies with which they plan to do business?
- Start by building your personal brand. This includes developing your brand mantra – very brief snapshot of the essence of what you represent— your heart and soul. Focus on one-word descriptions of the who, what, and how. The Forbes article listed a few different examples, including Ivanka Trump (an American wife, mother and entrepreneur), Disney (fun family entertainment), and Nike (authentic athletic performance).
As you build your personal brand, start thinking about the “why” of your professional decisions. Why did you start your own business? Why do you want to find success? Why do you think your product or service can help other people? Why do you think your life lesson and beliefs make you the perfect person to offer the product or service?
The next step of building a personal brand is to grow your brand. Find individuals with similarities — whether that is in backgrounds and personalities or professional services and products that can complement what you’re doing. Look for the people who are making a difference in your professional world and seek out ways to connect.
Two steps Gabe points out as part of building your personal brand are the most vital, I think. He notes that it’s important to serve others and continuously learn — components that go hand-in-hand.
The oft-repeated, yet hard-to-attribute, quote reminds us that people won’t always remember what you said to them — but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
When you serve others, you’re going against the me-first grain, but you’re setting yourself apart as a person who puts other people first, leaving them with a good feeling. The best way to do that? Be of value. Honor your commitments and learn, because unlocking more knowledge gives you more ways to share and help others. They’ll seek you out because they trust your knowledge and expertise, which will push you to grow and deepen your understanding — a cycle that ultimately helps you to build your brand.
- Once you know who you are, you can build your business brand — a vital step in SEO promotion. After all, how can you meet the needs of Internet searchers if you don’t know how or even if your product or service can meet their needs?
Business brand-building can be an overwhelming topic that we could write about at length. Experts from every industry have opinions on the best ways to get started, the most important parts of writing your brand, reaching your customers, and the actual writing component.
Good brand-building addresses a variety of topics:
- Master your mission statement: Take your business mantra and turn it into a powerful mission statement. This will help you branch out into each of the different brand-building areas while staying rooted and grounded in what you truly value. Nike, for example, has a mantra of authentic athletic performance; this, along with their well-known tagline, just do it, come from their mission: to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world,” with the qualifier that if you have a body, you are an athlete. Combine the three and you have a brand who strives to encourage everyone to take action with effective athletic tools.
- Target audience: Learning about who you want to reach, understanding how to reach them, and staying relevant to the needs and wants of audience members will be a part of your company’s branding efforts.
- Your competitor’s brands: Look at what both successful and unsuccessful companies in your industry are doing, from design and development to messages and overall marketing choices. While it’s important to create your own message, look at what is working and what isn’t working to help guide your choices.
- Understand your uniqueness: You may be one of many companies offering a similar service — but something sets you apart from the others, or you wouldn’t have felt the need to branch out on your own. Do some corporate soul-searching to find out the pieces that make you stand out.
- Give each component a personality: Create an avatar, or character profile, for your audience. Then, make one for your brand. How do they talk to each other? Where do they meet up? Think about these personalities in a variety of arenas, from communication preferences to colors.
- Consistency: How will your communications at every level reflect your brand? Think about the appearance of your digital and print pieces, your content, your customer service,
Once you decide to start building your brand, consider applying the same steps you followed for your personal brand to your business. You may want to pull in employees at different levels who can also speak into your corporate identity with their viewpoints. This will help you rally those who are involved with your business to become ambassadors for your brand.
In the movie, the young singer discovered that by disconnecting from everyone she knew and finding people who were truly interested in her growth, she could uncover and embrace the authentic young woman she really was.
When it comes to brand-building, both on a personal and corporate level, you may find that taking some time away from what you currently are and know allows you to boil down the work being down and leave you with a powerful brand that engages and excites your target audience.
She learned how to take who she was and channel that into reintroducing herself to the world — the same thing that SEO promotion does for your business and brand.
SEO Promotion and Brand-Building: The Perfect Match
Along this singer’s journey, she discovered more about her roots and her loves, abandoning the things and people she thought were damaging and draining her, only to find out that they were the ones who were truly important to her in the long run.
Perhaps you’ve treated search engine optimization the same way. After all, it can be time-consuming, exhausting, and confusing. SEO promotion has many moving parts that all need to be considered at some level for success, and it requires strategic planning to get the best results.
However, just like learning and serving others cycle back and forth to build your brand, building your brand and SEO promotion cycle back and forth to help you build your business.
Building your Brand to Boost your SEO
You want to purchase ketchup. When you go to the grocery store, you’re presented with a variety of different brands of ketchup. You might pick up the first few that catch you eye to read the ingredients, but most people tend to gravitate toward the same brand each time.
For example, maybe your family is a Heinz ketchup family. The odds are greater of you getting a new type of ketchup from Heinz than of the same type of ketchup from another brand, according to a Nielsen study. Their report shows that 59 percent of respondents said they would rather buy a new product from a brand that was familiar; 21 percent of people said they bought a new product just because it was made by a brand they liked.
The same happens in search engine optimization. Say you search for a product online. How many times have you skimmed over the first two or three Web sites or brands that you don’t know to discover one familiar to you that was ranked at fourth or fifth place — and clicked on that brand rather than the first ones listed?
SEO promotion has the end goal of increasing your search engine result ranking, and each time someone clicks on your link over one of the others listed higher, your Web site is gaining more authority and credibility in the eyes of the search engines.
In turn, the search engiens will start to see a stronger link between you and those specific keywords.
This is because it’s doing three things that search engines like:
- Your brand is driving traffic to your Web site
- Your brand building is catching the eye of others, who are more likely to link to your page than one that is unbranded
- Your brand, when evaluated by Google, starts to improve your search engine reputation, thus landing you in a higher ranking position
This positive activity comes from off-page brand-building activities across a variety of platforms, leading into positive SEO promotion outcomes without direct SEO work.
SEO Strategy Builds Your Brand
At the same time, though, SEO promotion can lead to greater brand awareness and trust, building your brand in the eyes of your target audience. Take a look at some of the most important parts of SEO.
Blogs and content: Consider the important role content your content should play in your search engine optimization plan and the value it holds in brand building. This is where you present your ideas and thoughts, share company developments, increase the engagement and interest of your users, and engage with your customers. While creating the blog posts, white papers, and guides that have been optimized for search engines, you’re showing your target audience who you are and what you value — the same traits important in brand building.
Link-building: As you increase the number of legitimate and relevant back links shared by others, you’ll start to increase in rankings on search engine results pages. This ranking increase points more people toward your page and brand, since you’re building on the brand awareness built by those who have shared your link. More people see your content and, ultimately, your brand. As your name pops up more frequently on the blogs they visit, they’ll recognize and prioritize you over your competitors.
Web site design and user experience: Increasing your search engine rankings can also happen through quality, user-friendly Web site design. When you make your site friendly for the search engine bots, you’re also making it friendly for your site’s human visitors. This means they can quickly find the information they need, they don’t have to spend a great deal of time waiting for pages to load, and they are more likely to go through the conversion process from visitor to consumer. A good experience puts you ahead of other brands and increases your attractiveness to your site’s visitors.