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Did you know that 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine? If your company isn’t making SEO a priority, you’re missing out on the people who are using search engines to discover brands just like yours. People who are literally searching for your exact product or service! Don’t hide from them behind a website that isn’t using SEO properly.

Remaining competitive in online business means being able to capture the attention of the people you are trying to serve. One of the top priorities for any business is to drive traffic and gain the attention of their target audience. The problem is that you can’t just put together a website, fill in a handful of pages, and expect people to show up and start hiring you or purchasing from your business. You can build it, but that doesn’t mean that they will come. You have to make it easy for them to find you!

When considering your digital marketing strategy, make sure you aren’t just considering the loudest forms of marketing and are paying close attention to the data. Bright Edge Organic Channel Report discovered that 53% of traffic to websites comes from organic search, while paid search comes in at 10% and social media makes up just 5% of traffic to websites. It’s ok if you don’t have the time or budget to cover all of the marketing strategies experts recommend. Instead of spreading yourself too thin, consider which strategies are going to give you the most bang for your buck. In many cases, well-positioned SEO can outperform other marketing efforts.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” This is the practice of tailoring your content in a way that allows search engines to easily find it, understand it, and put it in front of the right audience. But don’t get this confused with paying for search engine results, SEO is about exposure to your brand through organic (nonpaid) search engine results. This practice is often linked with increasing traffic, but it’s also about driving the right kind of traffic to your website. All traffic isn’t necessarily good traffic, so being able to drive quality traffic (aka your target audience) to your website is a key benefit of SEO.

To better your SEO, you need to understand two things: how search engines work and what your target audience is searching for. Once you understand those two things and how to use them together, you can start to master your brand’s SEO. It’s not just about finding the right keywords, though that is a large part of SEO, but also about knowing your audience and helping them find your content. It focuses on the words they’re using, the answers they’re looking for, and their intent as a user. Thinking hard about these questions, and digging in to do the research, will help you to improve your understanding of how to optimize your content and improve your SEO.

Why is SEO Important for Brands?

How often do you head to Google to do a quick search? Maybe you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, you’re looking up a product a friend recommended, or you’re researching the best way to do something that you’ve never done before. Most of us are searching multiple times a day when we have a question or are looking for something specific. When people are searching for topics related to what your brand is all about, you want to be the one that shows up in those searches. In short, you want the search engines to love (and trust) your brand’s content so that they show your content to your target audience!

Targeted Traffic

When marketing for your brand, it’s not about attracting just any audience. It’s really about attracting the right audience. You want your people to find you. You want to pique the interest of the people who have the potential to become customers or clients. Just as much as you want to attract the right audience, you also want to avoid attracting the wrong audience. This is why SEO is such an effective way to market your brand!

Organic search traffic is highly targeted because it’s based on the content you’re putting out there. The only people that should be finding your content are the people looking for that specific type of content. So by tailoring your content to what those who are most likely to become customers or clients are searching for and formatting it in a way that is optimized for search engines to find it, you’re able to attract targeted traffic. This isn’t always as easily done with other methods of digital marketing.

Long Term Results

The big problem with something like paid ads is that you’re going to have to pay for them for as long as you want traffic. The same goes for social media, you post it and most of the time within a few hours your engagement has peaked. Essentially, you need to keep feeding money (for paid ads) or posts (for social media) to continue driving traffic. But once you get pages ranking in search engines, it can quickly outpace any other traffic driver that you have.

While SEO does take a bit of effort and patience to build up, once it’s built up it generally stays there. If you publish a good piece of content and set it up correctly in terms of SEO and can get it to rank in search results, your organic search traffic will continue to bring traffic for a long time. Many times this traffic continues to come even years after it starts ranking on search engines. SEO is a powerful long term strategy because once you’ve earned your spot, you can generally expect to keep it for some time.

Trust and Authority

Take a moment to think back to your own searches again. When you search, do you generally look at the sponsored results at the top or do you usually skip over those and go down to the first organic search results? It was found that while 66% of google searches result in one or more clicks, only 3.4% resulted in a click on an AdWords (paid) link in search results. This is because as users we tend to find the organic results more trustworthy. We subconsciously figure that they’re coming up first for a reason and that reason isn’t that they’re willing to pay the most money to get our clicks. It’s because they’re actually the most relevant and authoritative result for whatever it is we’re looking for. We may not think about it consciously, but it really does impact the way most people use search results.

When it comes to conversions, organic SEO traffic tends to convert better simply because of the trust and implied authenticity of being at the top of the search results without having to buy in like the paid results do. Why pay for search engine results when you can get better results through SEO and content marketing?

Most Traffic Comes From Search Engines

While a lot of brands are focused on things like social media, paid ads, and other ways to get traffic to their website because it feels like an active way to scale, it’s important to pay attention to the facts. While it’s a good idea to have a well thought out social media strategy, consider the statistic we shared at the beginning of this article: 53% of traffic to websites comes from organic search while only 5% comes from social media according to the Bright Edge Organic Channel Report. It had to be included again because it drives home a pretty clear picture of where a brand should focus its efforts.

But why is it that search engines drive the most traffic? You have to consider user intent. When someone is scrolling through social media (I promise we love social media marketing and this is just an example) they may or may not be looking to buy, hire someone for a service, etc. However, when someone is on Google searching away, they are looking for something specific. If you can deliver what it is they’re looking for, they’re going to click on your link and they’re going to have a higher chance of converting. Search engine traffic is oftentimes highly underrated when compared to the volume of traffic it provides in comparison to other marketing channels like paid ads and social media marketing.

Best SEO Practices for Brands

Understanding the importance of SEO for your brand is one thing, but how do you implement it? If you’re new to SEO, even if you’re planning on hiring a digital marketing firm to take care of it for you, it’s important to understand the best practices so you have a clear idea of what is involved in a good SEO strategy.

Focus on User Intent

It’s a common misconception that when working on your SEO strategy, you need to be focused solely on your keywords. The light seems to shine on picking good keywords with high search volume and making sure they’re embedded in your content enough times. That’s the point of SEO, right? Yes, but that’s not all of it.

When it comes to SEO it’s essential to think of people first when creating your content. User intent is just as important as any other aspect of SEO. You want to make sure that the primary focus is on bringing benefit users who will be engaging with your content. This means creating content they are looking for and providing real value. This doesn’t mean stuffing a bunch of keywords into a poorly written article because you want Google to see them and trick their search engine crawlers into ranking your website.

Focusing on user intent means digging into what they’re searching for, why they’re searching for it, and how you can provide what it is they’re searching for whether it’s information or a specific product to purchase. When you make sure to cover this in your SEO strategy, you’re ensuring that not only are the right people clicking on your content, but they’re sticking around and finding what they’re looking for in what you’re presenting to them. This leads to trust, authenticity, and gives you a better chance at building a business relationship with the user.

Find Your Branded Keywords

Branded keywords aren’t talked about as often in SEO, but they can be beneficial to start ranking in search engines. Branded keywords are keywords that contain your company’s name. This means that the person searching for a branded keyword already knows your company exists. They may have been a past buyer or someone who heard about your company via word of mouth and wants to find out more. While it seems like a given that you would rank in search for your branded keywords, this isn’t always the case. Don’t assume that you rank #1 for your branded keywords!

You want to make it as easy as humanly possible for someone searching for anything about your company to find you. So ranking for your branded keywords should be a top priority. Because they already know about your brand and are searching to find information about it, their intent is likely that they’re looking to hire you, buy from you, or build some sort of relationship with your brand.

Branded keywords can be things like “(company name) reviews” or “(company name) (product name)” just as a few examples. Finding these keywords can be done using keyword search tools, or even by just starting to type in your company’s name in the google search bar to see what suggestions are auto populated.

Other than ranking for your branded keywords so that your customers can easily find you when searching for them, there is another advantage to ranking for your branded keywords. A strong brand presence can get you better rankings for non-branded keywords without needing a ton of links. If you are able to build up brand authority and rank well for your branded keywords, you’re likely to have an extra boost in your other targeted keywords.

Don’t Forget About Local SEO

SEO isn’t just for online businesses, if you’re a local business you need to make sure that you’re optimized for local searches as well. Did you know that 46% of search quotes on Google have local intent? That means if you’re a local business taking local clients and customers and you’re not optimizing for local traffic, you’re missing out.

To start, make sure that your brand is set up and verified as a local business listing on Google. This will make sure that google can tell when you’re geographically close to a user so that you can appear on local and map searches. This is something people use regularly when looking for a local business.

Making sure that your website is prioritizing SEO now can end up benefiting your brand long term. If you need help coming up with an SEO strategy and implementing it for your brand, Hive Art Media would love to work with you.

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