SEO is a hot term. It’s tossed around a lot in meetings as the one-size-fits-all solution to any marketing problem. Slow month? Low traffic? Phone’s not ringing? Let’s toss in some new keywords and voila—more customers!
That’s an oversimplified (and incorrect) perspective on SEO, but it’s a common assumption. Today’s intense focus on keywords and Google algorithm updates results in brands rewording their messaging irregularly, without evaluation of their current brand promise and long-term goals. In the end, it’s diluting overall branding instead of supporting.
Not to say you should forgo SEO altogether. There is a world where both brand messaging and SEO keywords can balance—and even improve—one another. Here are our top rules for to balance the two:
1) Brand messaging first
SEO shouldn’t be in the conversation if you have a weak (or nonexistent) brand foundation. Without a clear idea of your mission, vision, customer service and key values—how can you expect to conduct effective keyword research?
It may seem like a no-brainer, but businesses at times falsely attribute low lead generation and customer acquisition with website performance, when the larger problem is lack of awareness or confusion with brand messaging. If your organic search traffic is landing on a page that doesn’t accurately educate or communicate to the visitor, your brand messaging isn’t successfully supporting your SEO.
2) Know their applications and strengths
Simply put, SEO worries should only be based around the website. Brand messaging, on the other hand, encompasses much more—including advertising, social media, print collateral, in-person speaking engagements, etc. Your website is critical for business development, but it’s not the only marketing tactic you should have in your wheelhouse.
3) SEO can improve brand messaging
Keyword research is an intensive process that takes months to fully produce any traffic and ranking results. But what you can get immediate, actionable ideas for is utilizing SEO to shape your future brand messaging. Note that I said shape, not dictate. With changes to Google Hummingbird and the increased focus on query based searching, marketers can research questions and needs of their clients that relate to the brand.
For example, when searching “diabetes prevention,” AdWords pulls search phrases such as “can gestational diabetes be prevented,” “controlling diabetes with diet” and “diabetic diet meal plan.” If you’re in medical marketing for diabetes treatment, this SEO research shows there is a high volume of clients searching for diet-based solutions and perhaps your brand messaging needs to address this need.
4) And brand messaging can improve SEO
Consistent brand use = consistent search queries. Similarly to using SEO research to build a brand, consistent brand messaging has positive impact on your SEO. Beginner SEO stresses the importance of ranking first in search results for your company name. This is obvious because you want individuals to remember your business by name. But if a prospective client is starting out very early in the discovery phase (and conducting a lot of research), chances are they may not remember your name.
Instead, if your business is running a special brand campaign, SEO is a good indicator of its success. For example, cat litter brand World’s Best Cat Litter ran a campaign educating cat owners of the benefits of clay cat litter. In addition to social media and other web marketing tactic, offline use of their hashtag (#ImACrazyCatLady) was seen on bus stops and local storefronts. With minimal explanation of their business on advertisements, users are encouraged to search the campaign hashtag online to find more.
Brand messaging and SEO can find a balance. Using consistent brand messages with your most important keywords can yield the most beneficial results. But remember, brand personality shouldn’t be compromised by keywords.