Kieran Reed, senior marketing manager at Australian-indie agency Alpha Digital says it is time for marketers to invest in brand above all else, to get the optimum results in SEO (search engine optimization).
SEO has always been about the position. Ranking one on page one of Google when someone types your keywords is the ultimate. A grail that soon became the only request and almost expectation from marketers. However, the world, along with search, has changed a lot in the past 18-24 months.
Build it well and they will come
Google has leveled the field in terms of ensuring that your position is more accurately based on the value you’re offering to the searcher, rather than any manipulative SEO tricks. Google has discounted abusive tactics for years, and its latest algorithm update further improved Google’s ability to detect and discount spam and manipulative tactics.
Delivering value to the reader remains the base on which Google will reward the marketers. This has been the recommendation for the best part of the last decade, but the organic search rewards are now even greater for marketers who are thinking like their customers and providing the experience that matches.
Switching the battleground
Traditionally we would spend a long time with a brand devising broad category type keywords and a strategy to deliver visibility against them. This is becoming much more crowded over the past few years. Now that has changed; competition in search is fierce with brands having to compete against stockists and marketplaces, with budgets far superior. They are using their scale to acquire a consumer and then using your brand name to convert and sell the product. We’ve seen search terms rise to a point that isn’t sustainable for brand budgets.
When fighting in a crowded space, change the place. If you’re struggling to compete on your keywords, then change the term people are searching for. And for some, that means focusing on your brand name and getting that associated with the industry you’re in. This is not an overnight project or change by any means. It requires a targeted approach and smart thinking about your end audience. When marketers think about SEO, they think of broad keywords, category level stuff. But often forget the power of their own brand. It’s a lot easier to rank for your name than your subject matter!
You need to connect with your customer base and share ideas that align with their values. Since the start of the pandemic consumers are 30% more likely to try a new brand. This gives new entrants into the market, or even old veterans the opportunity to appeal to a new audience. It requires aligning brand missions with the personality and values of your customer and then communicating that.
Working on your brand has never been more important, so start or continue, test, and iterate today.
Focus on what you can control
The data wars are real. We’ve seen the impact of iOS 14/15 on the visibility of customer data. There may be more to come from technology providers. But there’s another less publicized move which we’ve seen from online marketplaces. The likes of The Iconic and Catch.com see hundreds of thousands of customers through their online doors. Brands are unable to maintain that direct relationship with customers and it’s a requirement when joining these marketplaces, to sign away rights to customer data.
This move is a bold one and we’ll see if there’s any push back from enough brands on the demands of joining the online marketplaces. It’s a massive benefit for those direct to consumer (D2C) brands that own the relationship and can nurture it a lot easier. Will we see more established retail brands follow a similar path?
Shifting behaviors and even greater competition in certain online spaces, mean that a different tactic is needed for many brands to get the most from their digital budgets. Organizations with deeper pockets than you are watching this same trend and will be looking to compete under your brand terms more and more in the future! By investing in and creating brand equity, consumers will be actively searching for your brand and in those search results, you’ll always have the advantage.
Kieran Reed is the senior marketing manager at Alpha Digital, an Australia-headquartered digital agency.