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Seo And Branding
Posted 01 November 2003 - 12:05 PM
After hearing the extent to which companies will go to build their brand (the Target presentation was unbelievable) it made me wonder: To what extent can SEO or online marketing tactics, be effective at building a company's brand online?
It's worked well for our clients in terms of extending brand visibility online when there was previously a deficiency. But I am curious what opinions/experiences others in the forum have.
Posted 01 November 2003 - 02:44 PM
What I find from my clients and potential clients, they call or email me because everywhere they look online for information about SEO, I show up one way or another. Now that's what I call a brand!
Posted 01 November 2003 - 07:06 PM
To me, SEO and PPC seem to relate more closely with direct marketing than what I'd consider branding. I base this on the fairly short time span between someone stumbling across a business and making a purchase.
However, in cases where the buying cycle is long, people are likely to run many searches on a variety of related terms, and being visible across a large spectrum of terms must help build a brand. If a company has done things such as pick a unique company name, the branding effect of high SE rankings would likely be higher.
Your web site will also have a large effect on your brand. If you do things like waste your visitors time by forcing them to watch your logo spin in a Flash intro, you're hurting your brand. If you don't have easy to access contact info, you're hurting your brand. If the copy is poor, you're hurting your brand.
Posted 01 November 2003 - 07:54 PM
Traditional advertising is a push medium- in the audience's face. You find out where your audience is, and you make sure you are there. What they read, what they watch, where they go, what they do.... you find out all these things and you select the vehicles most likely to get your message in front of the viewer/watcher/listener and then you build familiarity through repetition. It's an active strategy.
The search marketing is a pull medium. People have to look for you; it's more of a passive strategy. If no one knows your brand, it's hard to get them to look for you!
Online advertising is more similar to offline advertising- you can target your audience somewhat and you can create repetition but the impact is likely to be less. People just don't pay much attention to ads online- we've been trained to skip them. Many people use browsers or plug-ins to block ads!
I think it costs every bit as much to build a brand online through online advertising as it does offline. Netflix comes to mind as one who has done a good job of branding themselves online. They've bought ads all over the Internet.
The most effective way to build a brand online (IMO) is viral marketing. Word-of-mouth, send this to a friend, e-zine reviews and articles about your company. I don't remember seeing an ad anywhere for Amazon or Ebay- my friends told me about them. That typically only works for really unique or newsworthy businesses.
Target- I've worked for them twice in my career. They are hands-down one of the very top marketing companies out there. They even call their merchandise buyers "marketers" and that is absolutely correct. Everthing they do is user-centric and guided by marketing. Many companies think marketing=advertising and it's so much more than that.
Posted 02 November 2003 - 10:12 AM
I hear you Jill, a persistent and pervasive presence certainly contributes to brand recognition and reputation. I know our SEO practice has a long, long way to go.
Ed makes a good point: The experience and context matter too.
Scottie, your reference to push/pull is very interesting. When our marketing/PR firm presents tactics to clients, they're presented on a continuom with push tactics (advertising) placed on one end and pull tactics on the other (SEO). It presents an easy to understand picture of how a particular strategy can be implemented.
I agree that using online methods alone to establish a brand would not be practical, at least for those of us without million dollar marketing budgets. It really does depend on the target market and type of product. For SEO, competition is increasing as SEO / SEM knowledge enters the mainstream of marketing information. The need to distinguish one's online marketing services from others seems to be growing in importance.
It's interesting to see some spend so much time on "branding" but not on substance, at least in regard to building a billable business. Branding is important, but it's the bottom line that cashes checks.
Posted 02 November 2003 - 10:51 AM
Posted 02 November 2003 - 01:25 PM
I suppose the type of PR activity you mean is in regard to writing articles, submitting them to pubs and getting press that way? Also the newsletter and syndication?
There is so much opportunity for SEO work to be done out there that through creative PR and SEO I guess a consultant or firm could probably do fine building their brand using online tactics exclusivley.
IMO, this is where the convergence of online PR and SEO makes the most sense.
Posted 02 November 2003 - 02:44 PM
They set about a guerilla marketing campaign where the word was plastered everywhere people started talking about it and it became THE topic od conversation, the rest is history!
Brand awareness is the same, the web is a great leveller, and many will accept others as experts, or a force to be reckoned with purely based on online exposure. This is great for the 'real' people out there, but also for the spammers and charlatans.
Posted 02 November 2003 - 02:55 PM
I just read up on that because it seemed like an interesting story. That's a very interesting piece of trivia, and actually useful in the manner you used it (describing branding). Thanks OWG!
the word quiz
I love this place, learn something new everyday...
Posted 02 November 2003 - 07:09 PM
Her name is known although I wonder if High Rankings is as well-known? I'm guessing more people would recognize Jill's name than her company name.
Posted 02 November 2003 - 07:18 PM
RankWrite was, during it's 2 years of life.
It's all what I set my mind to. Seems to make the most sense at this time to brand my own name. Although I am also working on branding high rankings, but only recently. Like with this forum, and with my seminars. Since the seminars aren't just me any more, it seemed like a smarter idea to brand it with the high rankings moniker. Especially since the other speakers are mods here.
It's all what you set you mind too, however, and how much time you're willing to spend on it.
To me, there's nothing more fun then setting out to brand yourself or your company. It's pretty cool! Maybe I'll be an online branding consultant in my next life!
Posted 02 November 2003 - 07:22 PM
Posted 02 November 2003 - 08:24 PM
A good tattoo artist can fill in with some color, OWG. But I think it was supposed to go on your forehead...
Posted 02 November 2003 - 08:32 PM
Posted 02 November 2003 - 11:42 PM
Branding is also brand memory, where people remember your name. For brand memory, you first need "bums on seats". SEO provides that, but the usnique branding on a site creates the lasting impression. Case in point: the Google Logo.
So, SEO is all about getting people to your site so they can see your "branding", such as images, logos etc, and also to get people to start to associate your name with a particular product or service range. If someone types in "SEO" and gets Jill, that, after a while, "sticks".
Branding online is like branding through TV where a high ranking site is equivilant to a prime time TV show, and a poorly ranking site is equivalant to a show on at 4.30 in the morning. The only difference is, though, that you still need to have a site that backs up the promises.
There are two things that confuse me so much about website marketing. Firstly, sites that believe branding online is about pushing a message. If people don't come to teh site, who cares what message is pushed? This makes SEO far more important than overt branding.
Second thing that confuses me is why so many sites are SEO'ed to death. Why sacrifice everything to getting rankings if people don't do take any action on your site, and even if tehy do, they forget about it five seconds later?
So, IMHO, it is two steps, SEO to get people to teh site, consisent look, feel and prominent use of logos and "branding" to create a lasting impression. It sounds so easy, which is probably why it causes so many arguments with clients...
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