The Critical Role of Branding in Boosting Your SEO

Mar 17, 2015

It’s a basic fact of life in the digital marketing world: the big brands get preferential treatment in organic search results. They typically rank faster and easier, tend to be less affected by ranking algorithm updates, and usually get a mild slap on the wrist whenever they run afoul of Google’s Webmaster guidelines.

use seo to boost branding

For a number of years, Google has been increasing the weight that brand signals carry with the organic search ranking algorithm. From 2003’s Florida Update to the Panda Update of 2011, Google has been systematically boosting the visibility of branded websites in the search results at the expense of smaller, lesser-known sites.

What is a Brand, Anyway?

  • Most people equate branding with a company logo design or business trade name. While logos and registered trade names are part of the branding package, they don’t represent the whole equation.
  • Your brand is essentially the promise that your company makes to consumers. It lets them know what they can expect to gain by becoming your customer, and it helps differentiate your company from the competition.
  • Your brand is the sum total of who you are as a company, who you want to be someday, and the consumer’s perceptions of who you are.

Building Brand Signals
So how do you compete with the big brands and carve out a little piece of the Google ranking pie for yourself? One way would be to build your own company brand, assuming your business has the time (it can take years) and the budget (could require hundreds of thousands of dollars) necessary to grow a strong brand presence. A more realistic approach would be to learn the exact type of brand signals that Google likes to see, and to start building them for your own company.

Grow a Strong Branded Social Media Presence
Despite the fact that social signals don’t directly influence the search ranking algorithm, they are an important brand signal that Google uses to gauge your popularity and size of your user base. You need to encourage as many people as possible to like your page and become fans and followers. What you want to avoid is buying fans – you need real people who genuinely like your brand, and will engage with you and share your content. Your minimum presence should include social accounts with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, plus LinkedIn if you market to other businesses.

Increase Your Search-based Brand Signals
You need to get as many people as you can to search for your brand in Google. Prominently feature your brand name in every online and offline venue you can think of, such as your company videos, social media updates, press releases, and offline advertising. Don’t forget to ask your employees, friends, and family to do Google searches for your brand on their personal computers.

Add Branded Links and Co-citations
Links are an important brand signal, so use branded anchor text in your link building whenever possible. Be sure to use a variety of different text anchors, emphasizing branded anchors.

Co-citations are brand name mentions that don’t necessarily get linked to. Try to include your brand name wherever your target keyword appears, including reviews and social updates. Eventually Google will associate your brand with the keyword, and reward you with a ranking boost.

Improve Your On-page Brand Signals
Real brands have real locations, and so should you. Include a physical address and a phone number on your contact page. If you use a WordPress theme for your business website, make sure it’s customized to your brand as much as possible, and features your company logo. Don’t skimp on your About Us page – tout your company history and mission statement, just like the big brands do. Featuring photos of key staff members is a nice big brand-style touch.