brand buildingBy Jeremy Durant

With content creation there is an obsession with SEO—and rightfully so.

But SEO—particularly around keywords and phrases—may not be the end all, be all.

You’ll know you’ve truly succeeded as a content marketer when people recognize your brand as synonymous with your products or services instead of searching for what it is you sell and falling on your website in the first page of Google results.

That’s not to say you don’t want to focus on first page search rankings. You do. But once you’ve hit that goal, turn your attention to brand building.

Start With Your Brand Story

Too many companies worry too much about keyword phrases and not enough about how to communicate their brand. You need to start with your brand position and promise and develop a content strategy from there.

What are your company’s core values, mission, unique value proposition, and messaging?

As you develop a blog content editorial calendar, always start with your core services.

If you’re an accounting firm and your two core services are tax preparation and audit, develop an editorial calendar around those two services. If you are creating useful content around those two services, your brand will be associated with these services more and more.

When telling your story, the ultimate goal is brand building. You want your brand to be recognized with your core services.

Think of the Big Four with accounting or John Deere with construction. Prospects know whom they want to work with.

Power of Brand: A Price Premium

If you are successful at telling a compelling brand story through content marketing, the more your brand will be associated with your core service offerings. This translates into more people searching for your specific company rather than just a general service category search.

Because a web searcher is searching specifically for your firm rather than a broad category, this means you already have more credibility and can demand a premium.

In a prospect’s eyes, pricing is really based on “risk versus reward.” Typically the higher priced a service is, the less risk in something going wrong. The lower priced, the less proven the company.

If one searches for a company specifically and then finds two other firms through a broad category search, with what company are they going to be more tolerant with price?

The firm with the brand recognition that was specifically searched for. Keep this in mind as you build a reputation and brand recognition for a specific service.

Brand Building with SEO: Means to an End

The reason there have been so many changes to the Google algorithm the past few years is they are trying to keep companies honest. They don’t want companies stuffing their websites with keyword phrases, rather they want companies to create content around their expertise.

As you build your brand through a story, the keyword phrases you want your website to rank for will naturally shine through. Also, if you write for brand rather than SEO, the messaging will be more coherent and compelling. With web copy and your blog, write for brand first and, if done right, the keywords you want to rank for will naturally come out.

Brand: Don’t Spread Too Thin

From a brand strategy standpoint, you never want to be “everything to everyone.”

This works the same with SEO.

So once again start with the brand messaging and the SEO benefits will follow. Identify the two to three services your firm excels at and focus on generating website and blog content for those.

This way, you have a chance at ranking prominently for your true specialty areas rather than ranking beyond the first page of results for all keyword phrases.

How Do You Know if You Have Succeeded?

If you have truly succeeded in building your brand, you will know just by asking people who contact your firm. “How did you find out about us? I have read your blog for years and it has a stellar reputation in the industry.” “How did you find about us? I read your news release on your recently completed project and decided to reach out.”

These are much better responses than “I searched on the web and you were one of the results that came up.”

Keep in mind, brand building takes time. Most effective SEO tactics complement good brand building tactics. It will take years to build a solid reputation and a recognized success story, so ranking for service category keywords is an excellent way to generate leads initially.

However, keep in mind, the most sustainable lead generation will be through a strong brand. You will know you are succeeding as you hear more leads stating that they want to work with your brand.

You can also see if website visitors are searching for your brand name to land on your website. By focusing on brand building, and attracting people who search for your brand, you will be building a sustainable lead generation strategy for years to come.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Jeremy Durant

Jeremy is the Business Principal of Bop Design, a B2B marketing and web design firm based in San Diego, CA. Jeremy builds relationships with B2B businesses and entrepreneurs in need of a marketing and branding strategy, helping them to develop their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Prior to founding Bop Design, Jeremy spent 10+ years developing tailored solutions for Fortune 500 companies in the wireless, biotech, electronics, and food and beverage industries.

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