Your target audiences don’t limit themselves to one channel, so neither should your business.
SEO is one of the best marketing channels for return on investment for most small businesses. Because of this, a lot of SMBs will invest their entire marketing budget in SEO tactics. You would think as the owner of an SEO company that this is our ideal client, and to a certain extent, it is. It’s important, however, to point out that some of our best SEO campaigns have been for companies that invest in more than one marketing channel.
Why is this?
Over the last two years, we’ve seen Google increase its brand signals as a ranking factor and it’s apparent to me that this will continue as the algorithm continues to evolve. SEO, by its nature, isn’t a good channel to create brand awareness as users need to have awareness of a product or service before they will search for it.
What are brand signals?
No one knows all of the brand signals that Google is targeting, but for this article we’ll focus on what we believe is the most important: branded search queries. You can use Google Trends to see how often people are searching for your brand. The image below is a comparison of branded searches for a regional pest control company versus its top nationwide competitors. You can see that they have more branded searches locally as they invest in multiple marketing channels at the local level than the top national brands. Even though their website isn’t as authoritative as these national brands from an SEO perspective, they constantly outrank these larger brands in their region.
Keep in mind that this data is correlative. It doesn’t mean to stop doing SEO and focus on advertising, but that SEO as a standalone marketing strategy can only take you so far. Brand signals are just one of hundreds of factors that Google uses to rank websites. Most SEO-related activities, however, do very little to create online brand signals. Having a well-rounded marketing strategy that involves multiple marketing channels in addition to SEO creates signals that SEO activities alone can’t creat
What are some activities that can create branded searches?
The most obvious channels that can increase your branded searches are TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, etc. The problem with these marketing channels, to some degree, is that they are out of the reach of most small businesses. Here is a list of alternative marketing channels that can create brand awareness that don’t break the bank:
- Re marketing— showing display ads to users that have been to your website is a great, low-cost way to keep your brand top of mind.
- Social media advertising — another form of advertising that can expose your brand to the masses at a lower cost than other advertising channels.
- Webinars — Hosting webinars is a great tactic to showcase your expertise to a lot of people and create brand awareness. Make sure to record these to use in your social media campaigns.
- Speaking engagements — like webinars, this is a low-cost way to showcase your brand to people who may have never heard of you. I’ve often looked up the brand of the person speaking during their seminar to learn more about them.
- Email marketing — even though most email marketing campaigns are directed to people who have some level of awareness of your brand, it’s still a good low-cost channel to turn your happy customers into online brand ambassadors. The more people who are talking about your brand online, the more brand searches will happen.
As your small business grows and can afford to invest in more advertising channels, you can breathe new life into your SEO campaign by looking at new ways to create branded searches online:
- TV advertising—make sure to mention your website as prominently as a phone number or direct them to the website completely as more users are watching TV while also surfing the web on their mobile device.
- Billboards and direct mail—even though these are offline channels, you can still create online branded searches by offering an incentive that is explained in more detail with a landing page on your website.
- Radio—similar to billboards and direct mail, creating an incentive to visit your website (and not just listing your web address) is essential to getting listeners to look for your brand online.
Your target audiences don’t limit themselves to one channel, so neither should your business. SEO is just one part of a marketing ecosystem in which every channel can contribute to the goal of increasing branded searches for your company’s name.