How Branding Can Impact SEO

While SEO can help to get you more website visitors, what happens next is also important, which is why you should invest in top quality branding that converts.

This article will cover the following:
What is branding and why is it important?
What does a branding expert do?
What is SEO and why is it important?
What does an SEO expert do?
How can we bring branding and SEO together?
What is the typical search engine user behavior?
How does branding impact E-A-T?
What are good branding tips to follow?
Final thoughts

While SEO can help to get a business get more website visits, what happens next is even more important. Our marketing success is often tied to conversions and revenue. But what happens when conversions are low even though we’re doing a good job of getting people to the site? This can sometimes be due to poor branding.

Originally hosted by the Denver SEO Meetup Group and co-presented with Danielle Shearer of CreativCat, this article will go over how branding can help SEO to be more successful and provide branding tips to make a lasting impression. You can also view our video below.

What is branding and why is it important?

Branding is everything that is related to you and your company. It’s your logo, your font, your colors, and your images. It’s essentially your story. 

Think of it this way: before a new customer can buy your product, they must buy your message. Branding allows you to tell your story and you want to tell it before someone else does. Branding is what builds a relationship between you and your customers. 

What does a branding expert do?

Simply put, a branding expert establishes a strategy and shapes your brand to take it to the top of the mountain. We do so with the help of these key four elements:

  1. Brand, Vision, Mission Statement, Values: This is the WHAT and WHY of your brand. It’s who you are.
  2. Logo: This is the visual impression of your business and your brand image. It’s how people are going to see you and remember you.
  3. Brand Guidelines: This is the blueprint of your business. It’s your story, your vision, mission, values, logos, colors, fonts, everything. It’s keeping everything consistent.
  4. Website: This is crucial to consumer engagement. It’s your essential information tool and landing page where you can engage with your customers. 

What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO is what helps you to be found by your customers on search engines. It forces our industry to think strategically and analytically. It also requires us to test out best practices to see what works and what doesn’t work. This is important because what we read online as a ‘best practice’ isn’t always what we see when we actually implement those strategies ourselves. SEO is also important for these reasons:

  • SEO is how you can be competitive in the search marketplace.
    Think of it as a shelf in a grocery store. If your food product is on a shelf that’s eye-level, that will most likely get more eyeballs – more impressions if you will. When you compare that to the food items that are on the bottom shelf, they don’t get quite as many eyeballs. Your products run the risk of not being found by your customers. Transfer that to online, this is where SEO comes in – it gives you a fighting chance to share that search landscape and be more competitive with others.

  • SEO is how you can remain relevant when people use Google.
    This is like the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” Your potential customers don’t know to consider you if they can’t find you. They don’t know what they don’t know. It’s similar to a magazine: whoever is on that front cover is going to be a little bit more relevant than whoever is mentioned on page 98. 

  • SEO is how you can make impactful business decisions.
    SEO and analytics go hand-in-hand. This is where you learn what’s working, what’s not working, and how you can tweak your strategies. SEO is not a “set it and forget it” strategy. It’s ongoing and keeps evolving over time. This data and evolution can inform which business decisions to make.

What does an SEO expert do?

Wherever there’s a search box, there’s SEO. This type of support can include the absolute basics, such as keyword research, content writing, and link building. It can also include the more advanced strategies, such as Amazon optimization, internal site search and conversion optimization. 

When thinking about what SEO consultants do, know that our responsibilities continue to grow and evolve over time. We become more integrated with other marketing teams. SEO strategists have in a way become almost like business consultants.

How can we bring branding and SEO together?

Branding and SEO are seemingly very different strategies, but they can benefit each other.

  • Without good branding…
    SEO efforts can only go so far. You can have the greatest content in the world, but you run the risk of turning site visitors away if they cannot get past the look, feel or design of your website.

    Good branding helps provide a better overall user experience and can help to increase conversion rates. By having good branding, you’re establishing trust and making the process a bit easier.

  • Without good SEO…
    Branding can only go so far. You can have great branding, but it could be for nothing if it runs the risk of not being found by search users.

What is the typical search engine user behavior?

The typical search engine user pattern can look something similar to what’s below:

  1. Visitor conducts a search on Google. This sounds simple enough.

  2. Visitor clicks on your Google listing because of great SEO support. One can argue that this is where the first impression of your brand begins. Being on the first page helps increase the chances that someone will click on your result. Of course that’s assuming your listing is relevant to their search.

  3. Visitor quickly decides if they want to stay based on the look and feel of your website. Let’s say someone finally gets to your website. Before they even read the article, they quickly decide how good of an experience they’re having. This is where branding can play a really big part in how things play out.

  4. Visitor then decides to skim/read the content and if they want to convert. The user experience extends beyond the great content itself. It’s also in how everything is displayed and how easy it is to skim or read. Great user experiences increase the chances of conversions. This can include social follows, downloads or the ultimate conversion: a sale.

How does branding impact E-A-T?

From my experience, E-A-T is an acronym that has gained more visibility in the last year. It stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

  • Expertise 
    • This asks if you are an expert in your industry. Do you have the credentials to back up what you’re saying?
    • For example, are you a doctor or someone experiencing diabetes, or are you some random person writing about it?
  • Authority 
    • This is how people think of you. Do people reach out to you for quotes in their articles?
    • For example, would a medical journal reach out to you for information or quotes related to your diabetes research?
  • Trustworthiness 
    • This asks if you are honest. Do you provide accurate and truthful information?
    • For example, are people going to believe what you’re saying about diabetes on your own website or when featured on someone else’s?

When it comes to branding, I strongly believe this should exemplify E-A-T. This is based on two quotes from Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines.

“…Lowest quality MC [main content] is content created with such insufficient time, effort, expertise, talent, and/or skill that it fails to achieve its purpose. The Lowest rating should also apply to …MC [that] is so difficult to read, watch, or use, that it takes great effort to understand and use the page …broken functionality of the page due to lack of still in construction, poor design, or lack of maintenance. 7.2.3 Lowest Quality Main Content

“Some pages are deliberately designed to manipulate users to take an action that will benefit the owner of the website rather than help the user. Here are some common types of deceptively designed pages…pages that disguise Ads as MC …pages that disguise Ads as website navigation links …pages where the MC is not usable or visible …any page designed to trick users into clicking on a link. 7.6.2 Deceptive Page Design

PS, if you haven’t read the guidelines, it’s a 160-page document that provides guidelines to people that are employed by Google to evaluate websites.

What I like about the Quality Rater Guidelines is that it still emphasizes the importance of using people. This is versus relying solely on computers for everything. If anyone from Google is reading this, I’d love to be considered ;-).

What are good branding tips to follow?

Now that you know the importance of branding and how it can help SEO, here are a few things to consider when finding your next branding expert:

  • A good branding expert should ask YOU questions.
    Here are a few questions a branding expert should ask you. These questions are important because the designer is going to build the foundations of your brand based on your responses.

     
    • Who is your audience/customer?
    • Who are your competitors?
    • Which brands do you love?
    • Which brands do you hate?
    • What makes you different?
    • What’s your story?
    • What are your business goals?
    • What colors do you like and why?
  • Find the right branding expert for your business.
    Not all branding experts are created equally, and their skills can vary considerably. Here are a few things to consider when interviewing potential branding experts.

    • What is their experience?
    • Do they have a strong portfolio?
    • What does it look like?
    • Does it reflect your vision?
    • Do they specialize in your niche?
    • What is their reputation for the work they do?
    • How many years have they been doing this?
    • How did you hear about them? 
    • Did you read their reviews and/or testimonials?
  • Know your audience.
    Are you going after the budget-friendly audience? Or maybe you’re going after the environmentally friendly? Based on who your target audience is, that will have a huge impact on the design layout, colors and messaging.

  • Test different font formats.
    Fonts are more important than you think. A brand designer should spend a few hours finding the perfect font for you. These fonts will be used in areas such as your website and printed brochures.

    Here are a few font examples and their purpose:
    • Serif: traditional, respectable and reliable
    • Sans Serif: strong, clean, and modern
    • Script: Elegance and sophistication
    • Display: unique and fun
  • Use consistent branding across all digital assets.
    Wherever your branding lives, you want it to all tie together. The colors, look and feel should be reflected in your website and social platforms to emphasize who you are and what your brand represents.

  • Evolve with the times and your audience.
    A perfect example of this done right is with Taylor Swift. She went from young country artist to a strong pop diva. She was able to grow and evolve. Because of that, she was able to reach a broader audience.

    An example of this done wrong is with Uber/Lyft versus taxis. The sharing ride apps have been gaining ground transportation momentum over the last few years. This may cause taxis to one day be the next Blockbuster.

  • Use the right CMS for your branding and SEO based on journey.
    A frequently asked question I get is which CMS to use. It’s easy for many of us to say go with WordPress. But this should really be decided based on budget and resources. Your website should grow as your business grows.

    No matter the platform, good branding should be a top priority. For businesses that are using Wix or SquareSpace, I’ll tell them to invest in good branding before they even consider SEO. That’s also true for WordPress and above, but usually businesses that use the templated CMS platforms have a lack of budget and resources.
Business Phase 1Business Phase 2Business Phase 3
SquareSpace
and Wix
WordPress
Template
WordPress +
and Enterprise
New and growing businesses

Uses templated designs

Ok for content

Restrictive for technical fixes
Growing and thriving businesses

Templated + custom designs

Great for content

Pretty good for technical fixes
Growing and thriving businesses

Custom designs

Great for content

Great for technical

Final thoughts

When thinking about SEO and branding, please keep these final items in mind:

  • While SEO can help with optimizing a website, branding can help with optimizing decisions.
  • Do not be embarrassed if your branding is not where it should be. Our websites are not perfect because WE are not perfect.
  • Research before you invest in your brand. Then, trust your branding expert. Remember, simpler is better.
  • You have three seconds to keep a visitor on your page. Make it impactful.

If you’re interested in amazing branding, reach out to my friend Danielle at CreativCat, then reach out to us for SEO support!

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