As you write your next web page, blog post, or social media status update – in an effort to increase brand awareness through SEO – you may be bothered by a single question: Why should I care about what search engines want? Shouldn’t this be about what my target audience wants?
At How to Build a Brand, this is a commonly asked question. We understand. SEO practices can seem rather impersonal, and even impractical, to building brand awareness – unless you’re privy to the reasons behind them.
If you’ve ever conducted an internet search for a word or phrase and gotten content that is incomprehensible, filled with errors, or completely unrelated to your search, then you’re well on your way to understanding why search engines keep strict standards.
A number of search engines, like Ask Jeeves, have gone the way of pedal cars, due in part to their failures to properly screen the content they were including in search results. Users quickly became frustrated with the low quality of indexed pages and moved on to use other search engines. For this reason, reputable search engines like Google and Bing have certain requirements that your web publications must follow in order to be ranked.
Brand Awareness, Courtesy of Search Engines
As we move toward a better understanding of the reasons for SEO, let’s dispose of the fallacy that search engines are not for people. To the contrary, they are protecting searchers’ interests in the best interest of their own survivals. Plus, it’s evident that users trust search engine rankings: it has been reported by Search Engine Watch that Google’s number-one, first-page websites receive about 33 percent of the traffic for their respective search terms.
The most satisfied searchers are with your pages, the better the reputation of the search engines. This collaboration holds great potential for your ability to build brand awareness.
What measures can you take to ensure that search engines find and favour your pages? We recommend the following, in order to build brand awareness through effective SEO:
- Talk to your coders about an XML sitemap, which is a virtual GPS for web crawlers, helping them to identify, interconnect, and index your webpages.
- We all know how valuable word-of-mouth advertising, in the forms of testimonials and referrals, can be. When search engines see that other high-ranking websites have linked to your webpage(s) with inbound links, you can consider your brand to be part of the ‘in crowd.’ These are virtual recommendations from reputable sources.
- Outbound links to other sites from your webpages build your reputation with search engines. Link to only high-ranking sites and check those links regularly to make sure they’re unbroken, viable, and relevant.
- Diligent housekeeping of your webpages is essential for building brand awareness through SEO. Your content should be free from spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Your licensing should be up-to-date.
- Search engines account for website speeds in their rankings. The fastest websites are most likely to gain first-page results. Talk to your web designer and developer about things that could be slowing down your site, like large images and Flash player.
- Website traffic is a compounding factor that greatly contributes to your search engine ranking. The more traffic your site garners, the better it will rank.
- Low bounce rates are attractive to search engines. If you want to build brand awareness, it is important to get people to your website through SEO, but it’s also important to keep them there. Search engines track how long visitors stay at ‘your place,’ so keep your site easy to navigate and interesting. The longer people stick around, the better your rankings will be.
As you can see, SEO is really about finding opportunities for building brand awareness with real people. Search engines want to protect their own reputations, and in the interim, they protect yours, too.
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