by Amy Phillips Good brand management is supported by a strong and strategic brand identity. For a brand to stand out in its field, a brand’s online identity is becoming increasingly important. One of the most essential support systems for strong online brand identity is good search engine optimization (SEO).
To examine a brand online, the obvious first place to start is the brand’s Web site. An optimized site, with page titles, clean URLs, good content, headers, descriptions, alt tags and navigation will help with SEO. A very comprehensive checklist can be found here. But is that enough?
For high search engine ranking, the answer is no.
Paid advertising with media such as Pay-Per-Click through services such as Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter, is helpful but can be expensive. Organic SEO costs nothing but the time to build and maintain it. Some knowledge of the ever-changing search engine criteria for ranking algorithms helps.
But are an optimized site and paid advertising enough?
Many organic (as opposed to paid) SEO strategies today call for only 25% of effort given to “on-page” (the website) as opposed to 75% for “off-page” efforts (in-bound links and social media).
Social Media, according to Wikipedia, is composed of three things:
• Concept (art, information, or meme).
• Media (physical, electronic, or verbal).
• Social interface (intimate direct, community engagement, social viral, electronic broadcast or syndication, or other physical media such as print).
If social media is to be used to help SEO, all “concepts” must be strategic and brand-reinforcing. Anything else could actually be damaging. So, a brand’s social media presence with outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube among others, needs to be carefully crafted, controlled and monitored. Never underestimate the power of perception.®
The social interface component of social media presents the most challenges. What does it entail? Meeting people and talking. Asking questions and answering them. Engaging to add value. So how does a “brand” do this successfully?
The first place to start is to create a voice. A company needs to decide whether to set up separate Twitter accounts or one company account. How do you determine the right voice? For the pros and cons of all to consider, check out "The Right Voice for Your Brand is…"
Once your company’s voice is established, make sure that it is consistent from brand image to brand experience. Make sure that expectations are aligned. Create a strategy. Have a plan. Make goals and create timelines. Involve your advertising agency. Outside consultants can give valuable advice from a “fresh” perspective. Consider an integrated advertising campaign. You can’t pay for the publicity of something that goes viral. The more publicity your brand receives, the higher its search engine ranking is, organically.