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Giving SEO a seat at the table

3 reasons not to wait for your brand strategy to be signed, sealed, and delivered before considering SEO

SEO helps define your competitive environment

It’s no secret that SEO is the backbone of any winning digital strategy. It is the best way for most websites to get qualified, valuable traffic resulting in more visitors and more engagement at considerably lower cost than most methods. Search is part of our daily lives now. It’s often the very first thing we turn to to find what we need. The stats bear it out:

  • A September 2019 BrightEdge study found that organic search is responsible for 53% of all site traffic, up a couple points from five years ago. As a point of comparison, web traffic for social media accounted for less than 5%.
  • Overall, businesses receive an average of five clicks on their search results for every one click they get on their ads.
  • 81% of Internet users aged 16–64 searched online for a product or service according to  Datareportal’s Global Statshot for July 2020./li>
  • In July 2020, Google processed 12.18 billion search queries (reference).

But what many businesses don’t realize soon enough is that SEO is much more than a digital marketing discipline. It can play a powerful role in the creation and success of your brand.

3 reasons why SEO deserves a seat at the brand strategy table

1. SEO helps define your competitive environment

Understanding your competitive landscape is crucial to mapping out the correct positioning for your brand. This is impossible to do successfully if you ignore the search environment.

Your search competition could be completely different from your direct competition. But that won’t matter to the consumer plugging their search query for your product or service into Google. If an indirect or substitute competitor does a better job at ranking for your keywords than your direct competitors, guess what? Suddenly they’re your competition too.

This has huge implications for how you should or should not begin to position yourself in the early stages of your brand’s development. Key messaging, taglines, descriptors, and product names should all be developed with a solid understanding of your search competition if you want to stand a chance at reaching your most relevant audiences online. Remember, before you can compete for customers’ dollars, you first have to compete for their understanding of who you are and what you do.

2. SEO gives you the architecture for your entire content strategy

Content is one of the main tools for delivering our brand experience, products, and services in a digital first world. Search gives us the architecture of our content strategy by helping us determine what kinds of content we need (topics, types, sources) and how that content gets structured (hierarchy, formatting, display, metadata, and even linking strategies).

Researching and defining your keywords are foundational to this process. Sometimes sites get lucky without it, but good keyword research can make a huge—not just an incremental—difference to the success of your content strategy.

Keywords anchor your site’s content around what your customers (and by default search engines) want. They can help you find weak spots and gaps in your content, and sometimes even in your brand strategy. They reveal the needs your customers are looking to fill—powerful insights as you map out your website’s features, hero areas, main titles, sections, navigation, and backend metadata. Keyword research isn’t incidental to brand building, it’s foundational.

In fact, before we ever launch official search engine marketing activities, at Truss we use SEO keywords to inform the brand and creative processes from strategy to execution, including:

Brand architecture

Brand positioning + messaging

Creative concepting

Website design + UX

Content strategy + creation

Campaign creation + launch

3. SEO centers the customer story within your brand experience

Perhaps the most important reason to give search a seat at the brand strategy table is because it helps place the customer at the center of everything you do as a brand. When done correctly, search is a way to unlock, understand and respond to your customer’s story from your project’s inception.

This is why SEO “products” or services offered through hosting companies don’t do much of anything. Correct metadata and clean schema is just one sliver of the search pie. Because search is about people and their pain points and preferences, there is a manual aspect of SEO that you can’t automate. It’s not a box to be checked, it’s a riddle to be solved. The brands that get the human aspect of search are the ones that end up with the most resonant messages, creative, and experiences.

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