Brand optimisation is taking the lead in SEO

Diverse Business People Learning About Social Media

If you’re still in the tunnel vision mind set of “ranking first on Google” for keywords, welcome to the detox. Although a natural thing to want and expect from a digital marketing agency, this mode of thinking will often lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointments. There is a lack of understanding for how natural SEO works if you are approaching a company demanding for the first page of Google, and vice versa if a company promises as such for your business. SEO has shifted massively in the last year and with recent changes that suggest getting on Google’s first page without organic listings. With so many factors to consider such as; personal search preference, paid search, Google algorithms and knowledge graphs, social media, will there even be a need to be found organically? That being said, even if your website is organically ranked on the first page of Google, there’s still quite a high chance that it won’t get clicked on by users. This is all due to the shrinking SERPs.

What is this ‘shrinking SERPs’ phenomenon?

It’s been around for quite a while now, but in case you missed it or don’t know how this affects search results, let’s explore what this means. Shrinking SERPs means fewer organic results are displayed on Google’s first page due to expanded site links. If you’ve ever Googled something and came across an “in the news” snippet and/or boxes of product images at the top of the page – these take up extra space on the results listing pushing other links off of the page. Further explanation of shrinking SERPs can be found in this MOZ article. How does this further impact your organic listing? You can spend all of your time trying to rank organically for a keyword, but it doesn’t mean that people will click on your link when their focus is taken up by higher, more prominent results that are pushing yours lower down on the page. Can you still rank first and higher on the page? The short answer is with PPC and adverts, yes you can.

shrinking-serps Image source

Personalised Search Results

When you see an ad that is relevant to your interest, or find search results of the same pages you’ve visited before, it’s no coincidence that you’re being served these pages. Google knows what you want from previous search queries and the links you’ve visited. This also means that the results that show up on the first page for you may not necessarily be the same results for someone else even if you search for the exact same thing. This makes it frustrating for those who are obsessed with ranking first. Personalised search results can have a huge impact for your website.

So, is there even a point in trying to create content around a search term if this is the case? Absolutely! If you’re doing it right, you should be placing your content where your targeted audience is most likely to see. If you’re sharing useful and enjoyable content with your users, they are more likely to spread the word and do the promoting for you, thus increasing the number of people who will land on your page and shifting the personalised search scale in your favour. These users who are actively searching for your services or products will find you over your competitors, and if you’ve effectively optimised your site and content, it’s more likely that you will be served up in future search results for similar search terms as well.

The impact of brand optimisation

What is brand optimisation really? If we had to pin point it to one element, it would be trust. You build your brand to be easily recognisable, to communicate your values and benefits, to promote a clear call to action and to be consistent throughout your business all to gain the trust of your audience. Brand awareness is essential in today’s marketing strategy and there are many steps to be considered to get this right. Many people today want to learn about a company and their products before making the decision to purchase. Users will naturally search for reviews and affirmation through social media, review sites and of course, your company website as well. They need to know that whatever they are buying comes from a reputed and trust worthy source.

To earn the trust of your viewers, you need to deliver your business in such a way that users will not easily forget you. You do this by creating an unforgettable experience. Your website design, user journey (UI/UX), content, and social media strategy will all play a part in creating a lasting impression with the user. A flaw in one part could result in a deal breaker for the customer. For example; if a user happens onto your Twitter and is blown away by the incredible content, then visits your website only to be met with poor design, navigation, and/or lack of information, this would most likely deter the user away from purchasing what you have to offer.

Your website should be the pinnacle of your digital presence. In our article on ‘how important is web design?’, 94% of people cited poor web design as a reason they rejected a website. With a dated website design, your social media strategy and copy could mean nothing if users click onto your site only to close it off straight after.

Why brand optimisation is leading SEO

If the majority of your users now research brands through social media before anywhere else, then why are companies still focussing solely on ranking first on Google? Nobody is looking for you there. We need to go back and ask why businesses want to rank first. When we sit down with a client and ask them why they want to rank first on Google, their answer brings us right back to “increasing brand awareness”. This is where most companies get it wrong.

When you know that this is the goal that you want, it is not going to be ‘ranking first on Google’ that is going to get you there. Often when a business chooses to focus only on ranking first, they end up creating content for Google and not their target audience. This means that while their content is rich with keywords and links back to their site, nobody is taking interest enough to read it or even share it because it is not enjoyable, thus making the content an absolutely waste.

Create meaningful information, and then look at incorporating a content marketing strategy through social media, influencer outreach, and PR events and so on. This will help to get your brand seen by the right people. Remember that it’s better to have one or two links in a great article that will get shared by many, than to have 10 links in a mediocre article that will get seen by none. SEO is not something to be rushed or manipulated, it is built upon hard work and effort. Really think about the content you are creating for the users who will be seeing it. By doing so, you will find that customers will be more engaged with your business, and will help to naturally promote your brand via recommendations and positive reviews.

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