While the main goal of search engine optimisation is undoubtedly to generate visitors from within a target market, one of the often overlooked side effects is the positive impact that a high ranking website can have on your company branding.
According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a brand is “The set of physical attributes of a product or service, together with the beliefs and expectations surrounding it - a unique combination which the name or logo of the product or service should evoke in the mind of the audience”
Meaning that everything a business does contributes to the way a person views its brand and the connotations this has. Businesses are realising that being seen at the top of Google can have a very positive impact on the mindset of a surfer, and almost as if it is a vote of confidence, coming at the top of Google gives a company an instant authority.
If I search for “Nike running shoes” and Google, the biggest search engine (AND the search engine that I trust) thinks you are the best place to buy Nike running shoes then you must be doing something right. Even if I am already thinking of making a purchase elsewhere, seeing your site listed amongst the top results will leave an impression.
Not only are you more likely to take a share of the searches, but your brand will be seen by members of your target market and find itself placed into their memory. Just like traditional advertising often centring around advert repetition - trying to become memorable by presenting a message over and over again - search engine marketing can help in the same way. With constant appearances at the top of the search results for a whole range of keywords related to your industry, you should soon see a positive impact on not only your traffic, but also your perceived clout.
What should you do?
Often there may be nothing to do, as this is a by-product of having a well optimised, high ranking site. If however you want to make sure you get the maximum brand value that you can from the search engines there are a few things you could consider.
The first is your keywords. While you should already be targeting the terms that generate good enquiries/sales, what about the terms that will help improve your brand image? If a lot of people searched for “best shoe shop” or “environmentally friendly building supplier” then wouldn’t you want your shoe shop or DIY store to show here?
You could also address the call to action that people see in the search results. Your page title, meta description and URL should all contain your keywords but how about putting a message in there that meets your brand objectives? If you want to differentiate your company in a certain way then this may be how you reach those searchers that would be swayed by this characteristic.
Of course, the most important thing is to have the skills of experienced search engine optimisation
professionals. All the branding benefit in the world will casually pass you by if your website fails to show at the top of Google, Yahoo! and Bing. If SEO isn’t your strong point then that’s where we step in…