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How and why to create a brand
There’s no simple solution, but here is what your branding strategies should include.
The Internet has brought about one huge change in our everyday lives. These days each of us has a voice, and any of us can become a brand.
Whether that’s a good or a bad thing remains a matter of debate. Many people want to remain anonymous, and many smaller companies and sole proprietors don’t necessarily want to become “brands.”
But if this phenomenon is to be discussed from an SEO point of view, there’s no question about it: You need to become a brand to achieve consistent online visibility. As marketers, we always joke that brands win after every Google update. As the old adage goes – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
There’s one fundamental reason for that. Brands (i.e., entities) are Google’s anchors that hold its knowledge graph together. If you become part of that map, Google is likely to hold on to you for years to come:
The presence of a non-local (generic) knowledge panel that shows up for a brand search in Google is a definitive sign that Google knows you or your competitor as a brand (or entity):
Google Suggest also marks known entities with additional details (like a logo, an image, and/or a category):
You can also see which brands you are associated with within your knowledge panel. When researching your competitors, make sure this step is part of your audit: You need to be aware of these associations – Google certainly is.
There’s no one simple solution to becoming a brand, obviously. It takes time and effort from your whole team. Here’s what your branding strategy should include:
This step is fundamental. Make sure your site includes detailed information about your business, the team running it, your company’s culture, and its history. Using Organization and Author schema wherever it makes sense is always a good idea.
Many people would think of these elements as E-E-A-T signals. In reality, things are much more complicated. Just because you describe your expertise and put schema on your site, Google won’t automatically consider your site more trusted.
But topical content and structured data re-enforce all your further steps making it easier for Google to connect all the dots and finally collect all the positive signals to turn your site into an entity. Make use of the sameAs property to point Google to all your official channels.
This is the most powerful step in the whole process: To become part of an interlinked map of entities, you need to get linked from them. We don’t know exactly how Google associates brands with one another, so use all the methods you can:
- From your official site, link to all the brands you are connected to, for example, associations you are part of, certificates you have, events you visited, etc.
- Get interviewed! There are hundreds of podcast shows in just about any niche.
- Get linked by verified authors and scholars (especially those with knowledge panels of their own). Create trust-driven content (especially research studies, surveys, etc.) and set up an outreach strategy targeting educators and subject-matter experts within your field. Your link-building methods shouldn’t focus on DA, DR or other non-Google metrics. A smart link-building strategy instead focuses on trust-building, co-citations and entity connections.
- Speak at events, sponsor them and nominate yourself for any awards you come across. It may sound like ego-baiting tactics, but they are great for getting associated with niche entities.
People will start searching for your brand when they see you again and again, and that’s the goal. Google is a search engine and it will really start paying attention when your brand name becomes a search query.
Being everywhere may sound overwhelming, but it can, in fact, be done productively:
- Use content re-packaging to broadcast the same piece of content everywhere, from social media channels to your own site and your newsletter. Many tools can turn your text article into social-media-friendly visuals, videos and even slideshows. These days you can also use AI to create captions for all of these assets. This is a quick and easy way to reach your audience through multiple channels.
- Utilize remarketing ads (Facebook and Google) to reach out to your site visitors again, with a matching message and visual for them to start recognizing your branding.
- Monitor your social media mentions, as we as your main keywords on social media, to participate in relevant discussions regularly.
- Encourage people to Google YOU rather than go to your website in offline marketing efforts (radio, TV, print, etc). You’ll likely rank #1, capture the traffic and send a strong brand signal to Google simultaneously.
Building recognizability takes time, but that’s what will ultimately encourage people to start searching for your brand name on Google.
Curating your own mentions is the final step of reinforcing the positive sentiment and letting those mentions get seen by more people. This will also allow you to publicize social proof and ultimately improve conversions, so it is a great idea for many reasons.
- Retweet and reshare all the social media posts that praise your business or your team. Comment and like them as well.
- Turn positive social media mentions into visuals and re-publish them through your official channels.
- Set up “Featured in” or “In the news” sections to link to your interviews, podcasts, news mentions, etc. Promote those on your social media channels and in your email newsletter.
- Thank customers for positive reviews whenever they add them (Google, Yelp, TrustPilot, etc.)
Creating a brand is a task that requires a lot of time and resources. The good news is all those efforts will have short-term benefits that will translate into more diverse traffic, sales sources, and SEO upside via higher rankings. When including all of the above tactics in your marketing strategy, keep in mind two higher-level goals:
- You want your brand to be searched in Google (so start paying attention to your brand-driven search results and how much of those you can control. A good reputation management strategy is about controlling as many organic search results for your brand as you can).
- You want your business to be associated with as many known entities in your niche (and even outside of it) as possible. Keep this in mind when developing your content strategy both on and off-site. The good news is that this part of your brand-building strategy will help you generate high-quality links and build business partnerships that will benefit your business in the long run.
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