You know that old saying, “the hardest part of any important task is actually starting”? Well, to be perfectly honest, this quote doesn’t particularly ring true for many people, specifically me. In my experience, I can knock out tasks left and right but when it comes to big picture plans, follow-through gets the best of me, not starting. The same can be said for a majority of business owners and even marketers investing in the long-term success of their company or client.
Don’t get me wrong; starting a company is by no means easy. However, it’s the building part that throws everyone through a loop because so many tasks pop up and demand attention be placed elsewhere. Where I typically see companies fall short after opening for business are two foundational marketing areas: branding and search engine optimization (SEO). If you aren’t too familiar with these two mega influential concepts I’d recommend reviewing this Moz article on beginner SEO and this Forbes article on branding.
So why are branding and SEO so important and why is it hard to pursue them? The answer is pretty simple: branding and SEO help build inbound traffic that grows businesses. The tough part is that if it was easy, everyone would be investing in them and succeeding. This is why following through when things are difficult doesn’t always happen.
All this being said, how can you realistically grow your business with branding and SEO?
1. Understand the Relationship Between Branding and SEO
Getting back to basics never hurts so let’s be clear about definitions for branding and SEO. Branding is the practice used to distinguish products and or services with identifiable brand characteristics such as a logo, name, design, symbol, etc in order to set them apart from competitors. In simple terms, search engine optimization is defined as the process of making website content accessible and visible to people submitting queries into search engines like Google and Bing. Without implementing optimization practices, search engines will not be able to show your website on organic search engine results pages (SERPs).
These two foundational processes have a mutually beneficial relationship in which they rely on each other to build. Without solid branding, your website gets lost among competitors, and without SEO, there’s not a great chance of showing up in organic SERPs. Once you get a grasp on this, the next steps will make more sense.
2. Build a Recognizable Community
From social media to forum engagement and events, create a home for your brand and build a community for your audience to learn more about who your brand is, what you provide, and why you’re the best option. Whether it be followers, fans, or customers, engaging with your target audience generates brand recognition.
Great examples of brand recognition and how it generates inbound traffic are companies like Nike and Starbucks. Searches like “comfortable running shoes” or “coffee shop near me” will always lead you to Nike and Starbucks, respectively, for a number of reasons but the majority of users will visit their sites and eventually purchase from these brands instead of their competitors. This is because they’ve established a large presence for themselves by engaging with customers and implementing captivating campaigns. Both brands provide consistent results in products which encourage customers to become loyal.
But all of this valuable interaction has to have an optimized home. This is where SEO comes into play; ensuring pages, images, posts, and interactions are all optimized, crawled, and indexed for Google will get you ranked for keywords that generate more appearances in search results.
3. Provide Reliable Content
Maybe you already caught my drift from the Nike and Starbucks example, but the name of the game for brands nowadays is consistent reliable content. Content marketing is about providing accurate, thought-provoking blog posts, infographics, articles, podcasts, interviews, images, videos, etc. for your audience to engage with. Ultimately being dedicated to producing great optimized content provides opportunities for something called backlinks. This small word has a big meaning in SEO.
Backlinking is when other reliable websites link to your site, page, or content. When the number of quality backlinks increases, so does your domain authority, which is a culmination of multiple SEO metrics. A high domain authority means that your site is getting more traction and is more trusted by users. Sites like Nike and Starbucks have high DAs which pushes their sites to the first page of results.
You’ll notice that these three steps are interconnected; they feed off each other and fuel the cycle that keeps your business running. Generating this inbound traffic for your business is invaluable because once you develop brand awareness, recognition, and authority with optimized content to defend it, search engines begin to notice your effectiveness. Just remember that even when it gets hard or you hit a roadblock, there are resources out there on the world wide web and teams like Smarter Searches that can help!