Your brand is your company’s identity.
It’s a keystone for most of your marketing and advertising strategies.
At the center of every message you send, every advertisement you display, and every new marketing tactic you try is going to be your brand name, big and prominent.
Despite this, people commonly neglect branded terms when practicing search engines optimization (SEO). Traditionally, SEO strategies focus on commonly searched keywords and phrases, as well as phrases that cleanly reveal user search intent.
For example, you might optimize for phrases like “good pancakes near me” or “auto repair shop Austin.” No branded keywords are necessary here, because you’re intentionally generating a list of brands to consider in your forthcoming purchase.
But if you want to get more value out of your SEO strategies, and earn even more valuable conversions, you need to start optimizing for branded search.
What exactly does this mean? And how can you do it?
What Makes a Conversion Valuable?
First, what makes a conversion valuable?
On some level, all conversions are valuable.
In case you’re not familiar with the term, a conversion is just a meaningful action taken by one of your users. Depending on your organization and your strategy, a conversion could be a product purchase, a newsletter signup, or an interaction with a meaningful piece of optimize existing content on your own website.
Conversions will either give you revenue immediately or represent one step on the journey to getting revenue.
Our claim is that branded keyword and branded searches give better conversions, so what do better conversions look like?
- Conversion rate. For starters, we should consider the overall conversion rate. Just because someone conducts a branded search for a specific keyword term doesn’t mean they’re going to visit the top ranked site. And just because they visit the top ranked site doesn’t mean they’re going to buy anything. Branded keyword terms tend to be beneficial for increasing both visits and conversions, as well as your overall conversion rate. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that people who search for branded keywords tend to be in deeper stages of the sales funnel than people conducting more generic searches.
- Audience relevance. People already familiar with your brand are more likely to be a part of a relevant target audience in your strategy. Instead of mass marketing to as many people as possible, you’ll be fine-tuning your targeting to appeal to the people most likely to bring value to your brand. If you practice and effective branding strategy, that means you’ll be targeting people who are most likely to bring revenue to your brand and grow that revenue over time.
- Size/value of the conversion itself. Obviously, we also need to consider the size or value of the conversion itself. A conversion where a person buys $500 of merchandise is going to be more valuable than a conversion where a person buys $100 of merchandise. A conversion where a person signs up for a long-term subscription is going to be more valuable than a conversion where a person signs up to be part of a FREE Email newsletter. In some ways, this functions totally independently from the keywords for which you optimize; some of this value depends on what types of conversions you offer and how you position them. That said, optimizing for branded keywords should increase the likelihood of customers being willing to pay more or take more serious action, since they’re already acquainted with your brand.
- User sentiment. User familiarity with your brand can help you in other ways as well. If a user already knows your brand and likes your brand, their purchase is going to carry more weight; it means they’ll have a positive disposition toward your brand immediately, so as long as their purchase meets or exceeds their expectations, they’ll be willing to spend more money with you in the future.
Why Are Branded Searches Good for Conversions?
Ultimately, branded searches are good for your conversion strategy for a few different reasons:
- User familiarity. People who branded search for branded keywords are already familiar with your brand. They know what your company is, they know what he does, and they know they can trust you (for the most part). This makes users more likely to commit to specific actions, it makes them willing to spend more, and it predisposes them to more interactions in the future.
- User search intent. People who aren’t even aware they have a problem aren’t going to be conducting branded searches. They’re going to be searching for exploratory terms, hoping to gather more initial information. Consumers searching for brands by name will be much further along in their decision-making process, so they may already have to buy google search intent.
- Limited competition. It’s also worth noting that very few brands are going to be competing for your branded keywords; they’re busy trying to gobble up generic keyword branded search ranking space and optimizing for their own brand keywords. Your branded keyword phrases are low-hanging fruit; it should be trivially easy to rank for them, even if you haven’t spent much effort on them to date.
Other Benefits of Branded Search Optimization
Branded search optimization, the practice of optimizing your website specifically for branded keywords, offers some other benefits as well:
- Competitive defenses. Though not especially common, it’s possible that some of your competitors may deliberately attempt to rank for your branded keywords, either organically or with the help of a paid advertisement. This is frequently used as a tactic to siphon traffic from a threatening competitor. Accordingly, optimizing content for your own branded keywords serves as a kind of competitive defense; you’ll make it much harder for your competitors to disrupt you.
- Peripheral ranking benefits. As you’ll see, many of the tactics you’ll need to follow for branded search optimization are similar to conventional keyword optimization. You’ll be creating more content, fine-tuning your website’s technical SEO, and building links to your domain. In the course of this, you’ll naturally start branded search ranking for other target keywords you’ve included in your overall strategy. As domain authority rises, so too will the authority of all your individual pages.
- User behavior/intent analysis. Optimizing for branded search terms is an excellent way to learn more about your target audience. With the help of better SEO tools, you’ll learn more about the user intent of people searching for your keyword terms, you’ll be able to observe patterns of behavior once those users get to your website, and you’ll be able to analyze the impact of brand familiarity on your overall conversion rate. If you apply this knowledge intelligently, you should be able to improve many aspects of your SEO strategies in the future.
- Branded Search suggestions in the future. Spending more time on brand-specific keywords and phrases will open the door to new strategic keyword targeting possibilities in the future. Thanks to autofill branded search suggestion’s, keyword research planning tools, and other strategic research platforms, you can brainstorm better targets and start optimizing for them.
Are There Weaknesses of Branded Search Optimization?
Are there any weaknesses associated with branded search optimization?
The short answer is yes, but most of them present opportunities for compensation.
- The risk of overinvesting. There is a risk of over investing in branded search terms. As you rise in rankings in branded search engines results pages (SERPs), you’ll gradually gain more visibility and more traffic. It’s much better to rank on page one than to rank on any other page. Rank two is much better than rank three, and rank one is much better than rank two. But you can’t really go any higher than rank one; once you spend enough time, money, and energy acquiring a number one position, all you have to do is maintain that position – and further investments will be a waste. Similarly, you probably won’t have competition for these terms, since competitors will recognize your dominant position. It’s definitely worth investing in your branded search optimization strategy, but you also should avoid overspending.
- Buyer journey discrepancies. For most companies, it’s safe to assume that a person conducting a branded search is already familiar with your company and is getting ready to make a purchase. But this isn’t always the case. Your buyer journey may look very different then the buyer journeys of your competitors, and your target user behavior may not be as intuitive as it first seems. This can introduce complexities to your strategy that weaken its effectiveness and make it harder to proactively plan.
- Unclear direction. Speaking of planning, it’s sometimes hard to come up with content and link building ideas for your branded keywords. With generic keywords, you have the luxury of identifying competitive content currently ranking for those keywords; generic keywords and phrases also lend themselves to topic ideas quite conveniently. That’s not to say that it’s hard to come up with ideas for branded content, but it may present more challenges than you would expect.
How to Optimize for Branded Search
Now to the heart of the matter.
How do you optimize for branded search?
How can you make sure you remain competitively dominant in the landscape of branded search terms relevant to your brand name?
- Conduct market research. Before you do anything else, revisit your market research and make sure you understand your target audience inside and out. What does your customer journey look like? Who are your target demographics and what are the factors that lead them to convert? What types of things do they branded search for at various stages in the customer journey? Once you better understand this, you’ll be able to create better branded content and optimize for conversions on your site in a way that helps you capitalize on your new branded, organic traffic.
- Identify and prioritize your branded keywords and phrases. Next, identify and start prioritizing your brain keywords and phrases. Some of these are going to be obvious; you can make a list of your company name, the names of your products, and the names of your services. Some will require more creative brainstorming. You can start by typing your brand names into a Google-branded search volume and seeing if there are any phrase suggestions recommended to you. You can use a more interactive keyword research tool to generate a broader range of possibilities. Be sure to pay close attention to branded search volume, competition, and relevance.
- Use branded keywords throughout your website in titles and meta descriptions. Now that you have your list of branded keywords and phrases to target, start peppering them throughout your website. Some of the most valuable places to include branded keywords are in your page titles, your meta descriptions, and the headers of your onsite content. As with all forms of keyword optimization, make sure these keywords are included as naturally as possible; don’t get caught spamming your branded keywords too aggressively. Your homepage is arguably the most important page to optimize, since it’s probably going to be the branded search results for searches for your brand name alone.
- Write detailed, helpful content featuring branded keywords. Develop individual pieces for each of your branded keyword phrases, including both primary and secondary branded keyword targets in the title, headers, and throughout the body content. Ideally, this content will be at least a few thousand words long, offering plenty of descriptive content and value to the people reading it. The higher this content quality is, the more likely the content is to attract links – and the more conversions it’s going to generate. Quality needs to be your top priority, accordingly.
- Build strong links to branded pages. Eventually, you’ll have many interior pages of your site fully dedicated to showcasing your branded keyword phrases. How do you support those pages and make sure they reach rank one for their targets? One of your best strategies will be building strong links to these branded pages, utilizing high-quality guest articles written for publishers with high domain authority (as well as branded anchor text when you can). If your content is good enough, it should also attract some links on its own – especially if you’re willing to popularize that content through social media or advertising.
- Consider optimizing for competitor brand terms. Remember that branded search optimize can be used defensively, preventing other competing brands from ranking for your keywords. You can also take the offensive here, deliberately optimizing some of your content to rank for competitor brand terms. If you do this, you should know you don’t have much of a chance of organically ranking past rank two (unless you make this a do-or-die kind of mission). However, you may be able to siphon at least some traffic away from those competitors. Remain honest and accurate in the content you create, writing informative pieces like “Is [Brand] the Right Choice?” or “The Top X [Brand] Alternatives.” This is only one of the reasons competitive analysis in PPC is critical.
- Consider paying for branded PPC ads. Branded search typically refers to branded search or organic or engine optimization, but we also need to consider paid advertising. Why would you pay for advertisements associated with your brand keywords when you’re already at rank one for those keywords? The short answer is competition. Your competitors may be paying to feature ads for their companies for your branded search terms; you can’t really prevent them from doing this, but you can outbid them in an effort to dominate the SERPs.
- Monitor your progress. Finally, make sure you monitor your progress. Pay attention to how your branded keyword term rankings change over time, watch streams of organic and paid traffic, and study how users behave on your website. The more data you gather, the better you’ll understand your audience, your competitive landscape, and the most important strategies to use moving forward.
Is your brand in need of further online marketing support? Is there a missing ingredient in your existing branded search engines optimization (SEO) strategy? You’re in the right place: SEO.co is here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today!
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International.
He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize search engine marketing (SEM) ROI. Connect with Sam on Linkedin
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