SEO is your friend - in more ways than one. Discover the best ways brand managers and marketers can use SEO to increase company brand awareness.
Increase company brand awareness. One of the main tasks for brand managers and marketers. SEO has always played a role in building company brand awareness, but this role has changed significantly over the years. Gone are the days of the early internet, where digital marketers would just flood the landing pages with the brand’s name. These days you need a savvy SEO strategy in order to increase company brand awareness.
As technology has developed, search engine algorithms have gotten smarter, more complex and much more user-focused. Brands are now competing with a global market in an extremely noisy space. But SEO can be a way to lift your brand up over the others. We know because it has been done.
Hunter Branch, Founder and SEO Consultant at Rank Tree saw firsthand what good SEO can do for brand awareness:
“I’ve been working with one of my biggest clients, a writing coach, since 2017. When I started working with him, he already had incredible success as an author but he didn't get as much website traffic as you'd expect. He got about 20k organic visitors per month and most of that came from people searching his name and his books.
Since he had just started transitioning into being an online writing coach, we decided to implement a full-blown SEO content strategy. Today, he gets an average of 140k organic visitors per month. That's great and all, but the key part is that he's now widely known as one of the top writing coaches online. Since he shows up in the top 3 organic results for some of the biggest writing-related keywords out there, aspiring writers flood his email list and want his guidance.”
OK, so we know that increased company brand awareness via SEO can be achieved. The main question now is ‘how?’
We went out into the big, bad marketing world to gather the best tips on how to use SEO to increase company brand awareness. Here is what the professionals had to say...
We’re not going to lie, link building can be a pain in the… Buuutttt, we can’t deny the fact that the total number of referring domains linking to a page correlates with higher SERP more than any other factor. And, of course, the higher you show in search results the higher company brand awareness will be for your target audience. It's a given that link building has to be part of your strategy.
But just how to get those highly coveted links?
Joyce Chou, Content Marketing Strategist at Compose.ly believes high-quality content is the answer. “Some of our favorite pieces of content are comprehensive how-to guides and free downloadable templates (all gated). The high quality helps us land more successful links, whether through guest posting, email outreach, or even natural, unsolicited links. This, in turn, helps our search performance.”
Joyce and her team contribute their success at securing major brands as customers thanks to this technique. Well done, Joyce!
Chris Raulf, Founder of Boulder SEO Marketing, has combined offline marketing with link building to increase brand awareness.
"I teach part of a Master’s degree in SEO and digital marketing for a University in Europe", says Chris, "and I get invited to speak at conferences all over the world. All of these educational and speaking events continue to allow us to add interesting content to our website and the number of backlinks from relevant websites created is simply a nice side effect. All of these efforts have tremendously boosted our SEO results over the years and at the same time dramatically increased brand awareness."
"Organic visibility on Google is essential for reaching your coveted company brand awareness KPI and performance goals”, says Marilyn Wilkinson, Digital Marketing and eCommerce Specialist at Nestle Nespresso. “Otherwise you are just leaving the door open for your competitor to snap up customers searching for products in your space.”
Now, we don’t need to tell you how to optimize your content with keywords. Considering improving SEO and growing organic presence is the top priority for 61% of marketers in 2020, we presume you have the basics down. Ourselves and Marilyn are just here to give you an extra push by showing how SEO can also benefit brand awareness.
Marilyn continues: “Ranking highly doesn’t just make it easier for potential customers to find you, it’s also a form of social proof and demonstrates credibility. This is especially important now, as with the fast adoption of voice search and smart devices, scrolling through a long list of search results is becoming a thing of the past.”
One thing we will recommend doing, though, is putting more focus on long-tail keywords, which have a 3-5% higher click rate than generic searches.
Marilyn has something else to add and recommends “Evaluating and optimizing for search intent, leveraging structured data and ensuring your company is voice-search ready. Especially structured data is often under-estimated, but it’s essential for “rich snippets” containing product images, reviews and other details that make you stand out.
Elements such as featured snippets, Knowledge Graphs, local packs, and People Also Ask have been shown to drive high click-through rates, which is fantastic for generating traffic and brand awareness with zero ad spend.”
And if you really want to target your audience at the awareness stage, take the advice of Pete McAllister, Founder of Outreach Pete: “Targeting non-commercial keywords via SEO is a fantastic way to get on potential customer's radar long before they're ready to buy.”
Nike Golf (that’s Nike’s golfing brand) managed to leverage their SEO by using keyword phrases which resulted in a 169% increase in organic search traffic. The main challenge faced by Nike Golf was a lack of focus keywords that directed customers to their site. Their SEO team used analytics to report on keyword data and search trends, to see what exactly their customers were mostly searching for and where they were located. They now had a keyword strategy and were set about rebuilding their website content accordingly. The 169% increase in organic search traffic included both branded and non-branded search results. Not a bad result, hey!
Organic traffic is absolutely great, but it is not as easy to gain in today’s online marketing world as it has been in the past. It might be extra effort to integrate another marketing channel, and you may even need to spend money on paid campaigns to get your content seen, but the results from such integrations are well worth it.
Take social media, as an example. SEO and social media are a match made in heaven when it comes to increasing your brand awareness and connecting with your target audience. For one, social media content gets indexed. That’s right, search engine spiders also like to crawl and index social media posts. You just need to make sure that your posts are relevant, otherwise, that indexing won’t happen. There’s more on creating relevant content later on in this article.
But if you are going to use social media to influence SEO and, of course, company brand awareness, you need to be in it for the long run. Arek Ponski, Founder at TeamBuzz, told us:
“It is important to remember about the indirect impact of social media on your search position and traffic. Publishing great content is one thing, but promoting it via social media channels is quite another, and a crucial one, too, if your marketing strategy is to remain coherent. Building a company’s authority and trust on social media, as well as, reaching a wider audience there helps bring more people to the content you publish on your site. Subsequently, it encourages other websites to link back to your articles supporting backlinks acquisition. This, in turn, boosts the SEO performance and increases brand awareness across all channels."
It’s not enough to simply post a piece of content and forget about it. You need to build a community on your social channels and be there for them when they need you. Sponsored posts (and like/follower campaigns) help a lot here. As organic reach dwindles, you can redirect some of your marketing spend towards paid campaigns where you can utilize target keywords and audiences and run your campaign content accordingly. Your posts will reach more people, make them aware of your brand and, in most cases, feed them directly to your website.
Lee Wilson, Head of Services at Vertical Leap, discusses combining SEO with PPC in more detail:
“Integrated working between SEO and PPC to reduce paid brand bidding and still maximize total brand visibility within the search engine results pages (SERPs) is one of the first things I like to experiment with when we are exploring brand exposure in this way.
The tactic involves systematic and planned testing of increasing organic brand focus both on page and off page, with the incremental reduction (on a keyword by keyword basis, or campaign level for larger accounts) of paid CPC.
You will get to a pivot point whereby you can often increase the combined impressions and clicks for brand terms, decrease the paid spend, and therefore maximise the total return on advertising over both channels.
As a side effect of this, you can frequently improve further (even with brand) the quality scores as well as the wider website impact on brand power.”
The main thing to take away from this section is to post your content everywhere. Glen Allsopp, Founder of Detailed.com agrees:
“One situation where I believe SEO can help massively help with branding indirectly is where you have content that covers your niche a mile wide.
What I've noticed people reporting about certain sites is that it just feels like they're "everywhere", because you always see them in the top 10 no matter what you're looking for help with (or information about) in a particular space.
So even if you don't click on the site the first or second time you see them, the fact that you keep seeing them almost adds to the trust factor in a way.
And if you finally click and enjoy what you see, that relationship can turn into actively seeking them out for future searches.
I don't think this is exactly what you were asking for, but here's a good example of what I mean:"
"There are thousands of SEO blogs, but he clearly remembers seeing two sites over and over again.”
Optimized content gets more data and leads. We’ve already discussed using long-tail keywords, but one of the most important things needs to be that your content is fresh and high-quality. And on top of this, your content needs to be the right type of content that your target audience is looking for at the awareness stage.
We asked Steven van Vessum, VP of Community at ContentKing, how he uses SEO to increase brand awareness and his immediate answer was “creating top-of-the-funnel content”, i.e., the content people are looking for in the early stages of their customer journey.
“Imagine you are a digital nomad in the market for a new backpack”, Steven told us. “You’ll likely start searching using queries like ‘rucksack for traveler’ or ‘rucksack for traveling’. Now, if I was a rucksack brand trying to catch your attention, I’d produce a top-of-the-funnel comparison page that describes the pros and cons of various rucksacks.
This comparison page will provide a lot of value by helping build trust and credibility for your brand. You, as a customer, are then more likely to make a purchase on my site when you’ve made up your mind about which rucksack to buy.”
Davor Bomeštar, CEO at Fortis Agency continues this point on why top-of-the-funnel content is important in the awareness stage: “Top-of-the-funnel content has one main goal, to move people further down the funnel so they become leads and eventually customers. Just make sure content covers topics that are of interest to your target audience.”
Perhaps you already have some content on your site that can be repurposed and updated to reach your audience in their awareness stage. And don’t forget to remove content that is no longer relevant. You don’t want to ruin your hard work, or your reputation, by providing off-putting content.
Content strategist at Bid4Papers.com Lesley Vos, gave us some tips on how you can update old content so it better helps you toward your brand awareness goal:
“Consider updating after a page is 6-12 months old, has enough backlinks to compete, and matches search intent. There's no need to update posts that are in the SERP's top three. Your goal is the articles in the top 15, so they can still reach the first page of Google search.
Updating is not only about renewing old information from the text. It would help if you repaired everything that's broken: outdated links, old-fashioned visuals, out-of-date statistics, poor grammar, etc. Make it longer, refresh the title, add a table of contents to compete for Google's featured snippets... And remember to update the publishing date, too: both users and search engines will hardly care about something from 2015."
You can create all the top-of-the-funnel content you like and place the best ranking keywords in your text but if you don’t create the right content for your audience, there is no chance of increasing your company brand awareness, let alone move them further down the funnel.
Georgios Chasiotis, Managing Director at MINUTTIA, had a lot to say about this:
“SEO has traditionally been one of the best channels to drive consistent traffic, increase brand awareness and grow. What changes in SEO is the fact that we're shifting from a model that used to place keyword intent on top of most SEO-related activities, to a new one that's using search intent instead. Identifying search intent and satisfying it through valuable, actionable content—along with a seamless experience for the visitor—is the single most important thing right now.
This is why search intent classification is imperative nowadays. If you consistently manage to satisfy search intent by adding value to your visitors' lives, you'll eventually be able to raise awareness for your products and services. Yes, there is also a technical side on all these, but let's not overcomplicate things. SEO isn't that difficult after all—and, it is (still) one of the best ways to spread the message about what your business does and how you can help people overcome their problems and pain points.”
PS. This is a great insight for all you B2Bers out there.
“Let’s use a simple (yet powerful) example. Ahrefs is an SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic through an extended set of really cool features. Part of Ahrefs’ Content & SEO strategy is to create content that a) has SEO potential, b) is useful for the user/ visitor and c) promotes the product in a beautiful and not sales-y way."
"If you visit Ahrefs’ Blog, you’ll see that most of their content pieces are created with those three principles in mind.
Most of the content pieces published on their blog, are pieces that a) can—and most likely will—rank on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), b) add value to any Ahrefs user/ visitor by demonstrating examples and actionable tactics and c) raise awareness about the product itself, since the next thing a visitor who just learned how to do keyword research would like to do, is actually finding a tool that helps her do exactly that.
This strategy is used by many other tech and SaaS companies operating in different industries. Companies like Venngage (infographic creator), LearnWorlds (course creation platform) and Buffer (social media scheduling) use this strategy to raise awareness about their products and perform better organically.
Thus, you can understand that it is all about finding what problems and pain points your users have, how they’re looking for it online, what kind of content they expect to consume based on the search queries they're using, and serving that content in the best possible way. This is how you’ll be able to raise awareness about your product, grow your search traffic and educate users on how to get the most out of your product at the same time.”
Posts that use images attract 94% more views compared to those without images. That sentence is enough to bring you down the visual route. Companies are doing it already - and it works. Survey Anyplace started adding charts to their content and are reaping the rewards.
“In our article on CPL,” said Digital Marketer, Nigel Lindemann, “we calculated the average CPL per channel as well as per industry and put it into a bar chart with our branding on it. This generated both a lot of backlinks (awesome for SEO) and some outlets shared or reused the chart in their own content (awesome for brand awareness as it had our branding and it increased our authority in the niche).”
If you take the advice in this article on board, it is guaranteed your company will increase its brand awareness. But the same strategy won’t bring continued growth time and time again. You will need to adjust your actions to make sure you are reaching your target audience, but first, you need to know the level of brand awareness which your target audience is at. An advanced brand tracker can help you out here. Using brand tracking software means you’ll be able to access critical insights into how your brand is performing. This information can help you tailor your SEO strategy to your audience and continue increasing your brand awareness.
Good luck on your journey toward an epic brand!