Why Branding Should Be Your SEO Strategy For 2021

Branding and SEO

Developing strategic branding, that can be detected on an algorithmic level, will create longevity and allow your brand to continue to progress through all future Google updates. 

Google has been on a mission for years to continue to improve search results to deliver results as accurate as possible. 

Google is getting better and better with delivering results factoring in user intent. 

Furthermore, artificial intelligence continuously improves the various parameters affecting search rankings. This will continue to make it increasingly difficult to create pages and content that take full advantage of current technicalities in the algorithm. 

It’s time to begin taking a serious look into strategies that fit with Google’s update trajectory. 

We have to begin focusing on a critical aspect that continues to deliver long term results. One that has been used for years offline. 

You have to understand where Google is headed based on their past updates and current algorithms to understand what they expect from your brand.  

 

“Brand is what wins. It always has and always will. It’s how everyone makes a decision.” Gary Vaynerchuk 

 

Brand Recognition Increases Profitability 

According to PwC’s Consumer Insights Survey, 35% ranked trust in the brand among the top three reasons for their purchase decision.  

Brand recognition is among the ultimate objectives of building a profitable business. It increases the chances of potential customers buying products associated with a brand as long as they associate the brand with something they value. 

The same can be observed among search engine users. Having a recognizable brand dramatically increases the likelihood that searchers will click and choose your content over other results. This causes your website to get more traffic, which can then lead to increased conversions.  

You can see in the above diagram from CrazyEgg that the beginning of a conversion funnel begins with recognition and awareness of your brand. 

The wider net you cast will increase your chances of links, which increases your opportunity to increase profits. 

These clicks are essential since a page’s click-through rate is now among the top factors for ranking search results in Google. This makes your branding awareness an indirect factor in getting your content to the top results for your queries.  

 

Why Click-Through Rates Are Important for Search Engine Rankings 

To understand how branding affects where your website ranks in search results, you must first realize that search engines give the utmost consideration to user behavior.  

 One such consideration includes the click-through rates (CTR) that links get when listed as a search result. 

Depending on how much the click-through rate exceeds the average for the search term helps determine where you will rank on SERPs. A more significant positive margin results in a higher ranking on the first page of the search results. 

Wordstream ran a study and found that for every 3%, you increase your click-through rate will result in an increase in your search result position by one position. 

The click-through rate is used as a measure by the algorithm to determine which results generate interest from its users. This is their way of recommending to their users the pages that others previously engaged with while searching for similar keywords. 

 

Why Your Brand Could Be the Deciding Factor for a Higher Search Engine Ranking 

I have skipped many number one search results to go straight to content from a Brand I trust. 

This is true for many others as well. 

“Authority can, and does, influence search a great deal. Brands with higher authority are often more desired, and therefore searched out more frequently by customers because it’s a brand that they trust. This, in turn, results in even better search visibility because it’s getting more traffic.” SEMRush 

As you can see, this increases the ranking of your pages on search results of the keywords related to your pages. 

 

Building Your Brand Is the Best Way to Establish  E-A-T 

E-A-T is a factor in Google’s search engine algorithm. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.  

This is used to help Google evaluate the potential of a website’s content and to help determine if the content will be accurate and able to produce helpful information for the user. Any content scoring poorly with the E-A-T evaluation would be less likely to show higher in search results. 

To understand what is taken into consideration, here is a brief look at each element of E-A-T: 

Expertise 

Google divides expertise into two types – formal expertise and everyday expertise. Formal expertise relates to content created by individuals considered as formally educated, verified, or accredited like doctors, financial advisors, and lawyers.  

On the other hand, everyday expertise is those demonstrated by individuals who have adequate life experiences in their topic. 

According to Google’s guidelines, expertise is demonstrated when content is factual and is delivered in a professional manner.  

It should provide your readers with what they need from their search. You can find this out by starting with keyword research and understanding their intent behind their search queries.  

Once you know these things, you can then start writing comprehensive content that can be easily read and understood by your audience.  

You should also add supplementary information in your content or link to another page on your site that can help them answer further questions that they might have.   

Authoritativeness 

This is measured through the relevant credentials on the topic displayed by the content creator. This metric applies to the main content, the webpage, and the website as a whole.  

Both types of expertise can use the about page to provide proof for their authority. As for contributing content creators, professional expertise is displayed through a professional title, short bio, photo, certifications, an official website link, or a full bio link.  

As for everyday expertise, a statement that the content creator shares their significant personal experience, not professional advice, can serve as a basis of their authority.  

These proofs of authority are not limited to the bio and about pages of authors. Creating content outside of one’s website as long as the content coincides with the website’s niche or field is another crucial factor in determining authority.  

For example, Google would not see content discussing a medical condition written by a doctor as authoritative to the doctor’s website if it is found on a website for financial advice.  

Trustworthiness  

This is simply the integrity of your website and its contents.  

You should, at the very least, have some of the underlying security features and pages added to your site. If your website does not use author biographies and reference external sources where applicable, it could also be a sign of an untrustworthy source.  

Some examples of things you should have set up early on when launching your website: 

  • A secure domain (HTTPS) 
  • A contact page 
  • A physical address (if applicable) 
  • A terms and conditions page 
  • A privacy policy page 
  • The refunds and returns policy for your transactions 
  • A comprehensive specification for products being sold 
  • A biography in the about page  
  • An author biography section for relevant blogs or articles 

How Authenticity helps build E-A-T 

As a brand, you want your targeted audience to look to your brand as the expert authority in your niche. You want them turning to your brand whenever they need more of what you offer.  

The goal should be for your target market to see your brand positively, and the best way to express that is through authenticity. 

A survey conducted by Social Media Today found that user-generated content was the most effective in creating authenticity and trust for a Brand. 

You want to deliver the value that your audience expects and give them more of what they may not even realize they want. 

Focus on developing a strategy that holistically blends Branding and E-A-T to establish your overall goals. 

The only difference between the two is that E-A-T targets Google’s algorithms, while branding is more concerned with your audience’s perception of your brand.  Together these will have a substantial impact on your overall rankings. 

 

Brand Awareness Leads to Links 

An established E-A-T brings awareness among content creators in the same niche as your brand.  

This comes with your brand’s content being used as a valuable resource when creating their content.  

These are essentially backlinks that help in improving your search engine ranking. 

There is a strong correlation between backlinks and the amount of traffic you generate from Google.  

The more you build your E-A-T, the more backlinks you will generate naturally, which will keep Google happy. 

 

Overcome YMYL with Solid Branding 

YMYL, “Your Money or Your Life,” pages are web pages providing content related to topics that may affect a person’s financial stability, happiness, health, or safety.   

These include topics on personal finance, financial transactions, medical information, legal affairs, news, public and official information, and car safety.  

YMYL pages are placed under a stricter set of quality guidelines in evaluating content for search engine results.  

These guidelines include E-A-T.  

You are less likely to be affected by the current and future standards for such pages if you continuously work on establishing stronger E-A-T. Especially in the earlier stages of your site. 

This does not mean that you can get away with breaking YMYL guidelines on E-A-T. You would still have to back up elements of your content with facts from other reliable E-A-T resources and maintain a smooth-running website. 

E-A-T is the foundation that establishes your brand in Google’s algorithm. Because of this, your pages can break into the top results even if it’s a YMYL page with less friction.  

 

Good Branding Creates Longevity 

SEO standards will continuously change due to improvements made to the search engine algorithms to continue to improve user experience.  

This results in technical strategies only lasting until the next update. Such approaches may be only good for a few months up to a year.  

In some cases, these updates result in dramatic changes in how pages are ranked in search results.  

This is why you have to create proper brand recognition from your target audience. Your brand’s reputation from your audience cannot be taken away by any update on Google’s algorithm.  

And, the most significant way to do this is through high-quality content.  

 

“Content is the cornerstone of internet marketing and for successfully building a brand.” Neil Patel 

 

Users Will Consume More of Your Content 

With Brand recognition and quality content, users are more likely to consume more of your content, which results in lower bounce rates.  

If you provide more value through the effective use of internal links, you will increase their time-on-site and their pages per session.  

 

“… bounce rate doesn’t have a direct impact on SEO. But, It does have a huge impact on lots of metrics that DO have a direct impact on rankings.
 Mathew Woodward 

 

Final Thoughts 

These metrics will be observed by Google and will be seen as a justification to increase your ranking for relevant keywords. 

Aside from your audience, other content creators will be referring to your content as a trustworthy source.  

You are further establishing your brand recognition and awareness. 

Effective branding will stand the test of time and will help you dominate rankings. 

What are you currently doing to build your brand and establish E-A-T? 

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The Secret To Creating Content That Search Engines Love

Content Strategy for Search Engines

There is an underlying element that gives our content massive opportunities for success. We spend so much time writing our blog post, recording and editing our video and podcast, creating and editing images, emailing our subscribers, servicing our clients, and sometimes we overlook the fundamentals that shape the success of our content. 

The opportunity of driving more traffic to your site, getting more email subscribers, getting more YouTube subscribers, generating more leads primarily lies within the Second Layer of Your Content. 

Let’s dive into why the Second Layer of your content is the most important aspect of digital marketing and content creation. 

 

Understanding Digital Marketing 

Digital marketing is the method of building brand awareness, trust, and community in order to sell your products or services to people through digital mediums. 

Smart Insights shows how digital marketing plays a huge part in the Life Cycle of customers for your business. 

Digital marketing is a critical component in business and branding. It’s expected of you to at least have the basics, and why wouldn’t you. You are able to strategically reach people when they’re looking or currently in need of a particular solution to their issue. The ultimate goal is to figure out the best way to package up your product or your services and deliver it to people where they are searching for it.  

But you have to create your content in a discoverable way, and that can be achieved by optimizing the Second Layer of your Content. 

 

What is the Second Layer of Content in Digital Marketing? 

The Second Layer of Content is the layer of text-based content, that is attached to the Primary Visual Layer of any piece of digital content. 

For example, what you see in a YouTube video is considered the Primary or First Layer of Content. It’s the main thing people consume when watching, reading or listening to your content. 

The Second Layer would be the video tags added to help with discoverability in search.

With the many articles being created discussed digital marketing trends for 2020, The Second Layer of you Content is a crucial element that is being overshadowed by the shiny new objects. 

As marketing technology advances and the need for fresh content arises, the fundamentals get blurred. 

Here’s how, regardless of the medium, the Second Layer of your Content is still a critical element to your strategy. 

Voice Search 

Yes, you are using your voice to search for a particular term and getting a voice response to your query. 

The way this works is similar to your talk to text function on your smartphone. 

Your speech is being translated to text for the algorithms to understand what you are searching for.  

Then the algorithm searches and pulls the Second Layer of Content (text-based content) from, let’s say, the schema markup of a reputable site.  

Then your device reads that content to you.  

Without this website doing their proper due diligence and having optimized Second Layer or text-based content on their site, the voice search would have picked another piece of content that is deemed more relevant to the search query. 

Video 

I’m sure you’ve probably heard how video is dominating right now in the digital marketing space. 

We will spend hours over a couple of days recording and editing a video in order to get that quality content that is expected now of days.  

But, a best practice for all video-based content is to include a transcript of the video with each upload. 

This is because algorithms still need text-based content in order to fully understand what is being said in your video. 

Imagine after spending all that hard work on your video that YouTube only really understands 20% of the context of your hard work.  

The same is true for Youtube tags. 

Your video’s tags are not seen but are a critical element in your video’s searchability. 

This is what Hubspot contributor Clifford Chi had to say about Youtube Tags. 

 

“YouTube tags are important because they help YouTube grasp your video’s content and context. This way, YouTube can understand your video’s topic and category, and associate it with similar content, which can amplify your video’s reach.” 

 

Images 

Another example is the images that you add to your Website. A best practice is to have your keywords in the Image Name and Alt tag.  

Algorithms still cannot fully understand images without having this text-based content added. Without them, the relevance of these images on your site is zero. 

As you can see from the examples mentioned earlier that regardless of the medium, the second layer of content (text-based content) is what helps get your content discovered. Making it easy for algorithms to understand your content will increase the odds of your content doing better in search and recommended videos. 

 

How To Optimize the Second Layer To Your Content 

Here we will discuss the key fundamentals that will help with the discoverability of your content. 

Schema Markup 

Schema markup is a quick to implement solution that will help search engines better understand your content and deliver more informative results to searchers. 

According to Neil Patel, at least one-third of all Google’s search results include rich Snippets, which includes schema markup. 

How to add schema markup to your content: 

  1. Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper 
  2. Select the type of data you want to mark up 
  3. Paste the URL of the page you want to Mark up 
  4. Highlight the content you want to mark up 
  5. Categorize the highlighted content from the My Data Items choices. 
  6. Mark up as much of your content as possible. More information the better 
  7. Click Create HTML 
  8. Test your Markup 
  9. Add it to your webpage 

The process is relatively quick once you have gone through the steps a few times. 

If you are not familiar with schema markup and using Google’s structured data tool, Buisness2Community has an excellent tutorial walking you through the process. 

Keyword Research 

I’m sure if you have had a website for just about any period of time, you have come across the importance of keyword research. 

This is not an exciting topic, to say the least (although I enjoy it. Don’t Judge Me!), but it is vital to the overall discovery of your content. 

According to Moz, Keyword research is a core SEO task that involves identifying popular words and phrases people enter into search engines -make in an attempt to figure out what to rank for. Researching keywords gives marketers a better understanding of how high the demand is for certain keywords and how hard it would be to compete for those terms in the organic search results, offering some direction to optimization efforts. 

Understanding the 5 Most Common Keyword Types 

Short-Tailed Keywords 

These are highly competitive keywords that are 3 words or less. ‘Digital Marketing’ is an example of a Short-Tailed Keyword. Short-tailed keywords are usually the first step when someone is searching for an answer and should be used, but the primary focus should remain on less competitive long-tail keywords. 

Long Tailed Keywords 

Long Tailed keywords are longer and very specific. “Digital Marketing Tips For a Landscaping Business” would be an example of a Long-Tailed Keyword. 

These will generally provide you with the best results, along with using Evergreen Keywords. 

Evergreen Keywords 

These keywords are generally something that will be relevant for the long term without the need for fresh content. This varies wildly depending on your industry, but anything like Digital Marketing Trends For 2021 will obviously only be relevant for that year. It will require updated content on the trends for the following year. Try to create pieces of content that you rarely or minimally have to update regularly.  

Ahrefs Organic Traffic Growth

Ahrefs uses evergreen content to help them generate over 200,000+ visitors a month. 

 Geo-Targeting Keywords 

These keywords include a specific location. These are great for local businesses who are creating content for your particular area. An example of this would be “Your Guide to Lowering Your Electricity Bill in Nashville.” If you are creating content and service, a 50-mile radius of your location. Using Geo-based keywords may result in less overall traffic but more relevant local traffic that can actually turn into leads for your business. 

LSI Keywords 

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Keywords are alternative Keywords that Closely relate to the main keyword you are targeting. An example would be you targeting the keyword “Digital Marketing.” An LSI Keyword you could add to your content is “Digital Marketing Hacks for Small Businesses” or Digital Marketing for Lead Generation.” 

 

Strategically use Exact Match Keywords  

Now, I know Google has been releasing updates to better understand user intent making exact match keywords less important. 

But, after tons of content created and studies, I found that Exact Match Still has tons of potential for increasing your search results. 

Using SEO Quake and Moz Bar to get a quick snapshot of the data when doing my keyword research within the search results.  

SEO Quake and Moz seach results screenshot

This allows me to analyze my potential competition quickly. If I’m researching a keyword and all the results on page 1 have high Doman Authority and ranked as some of the most popular websites on the web- then I know I should find longer tailed alternatives or move on.  

I have come across many results of small no named websites that appear ahead of massive sites like Content Marketing Institute, Wordstream, and Copyblogger to name a few. 

Yes, the Exact match still matters in 2020! 

Now, I wouldn’t build my strategy around it completely. Looking back at all the Google updates up until today, the goal is to better understand the searcher’s intent, and one day Google will crack the code where exact match may not mean much of anything.  

If you are not familiar with Google’s long list of updates over the years Search Engine Journal has a complete list of all updates and changes. 

But in the foreseeable future, I recommend “strategically” using exact match when it makes sense. 

Titles 

This is one of the most essential places to optimize your Second Layer. Merely adjusting the Titles on your content can result in an increase in your CTR on search. 

According to BacklinkoTitle tags that contain a question have a 14.1% higher CTR. 

Do not brush over this piece of the content. Be very strategic and methodical about your Titles. Of all the people who will see your Title across search, social media, and email. Less than 8% will click on your links, while only about 2% will completely consume your content. Don’t miss the opportunity to bring them to your content by not focusing on your most seen piece of your content. 

H1, H2, H3 and H4 tags 

These tags help break up your content, and better help search engines understand who deep you went into a particular topic. Optimizing this for your Second Layer will be huge for your content searchability as well as user experience. 

Meta Descriptions 

This is another critical element in your optimization. If you were to search for a particular keyword, the results would have the query bolded in the description. 

Blogging Wizard Search Ranking screenshot

In the above example for BloggingWizard.com, Google pulled two separate pieces of content from the article in order to make sure that the Meta description for the search phrase, ‘Keyword Research Examples’ is also relevant to the query. 

Create a detailed summary of your content, including your main keyword of no more than 160 characters. 

 

Finishing Up 

I have worked with clients that did a great job with creativity. They took professional photos, created high-quality videos, wrote interesting blog posts that are helpful and unique. Yet, they get little to no benefits from their efforts.  

The issue with much of the content these days is not creativity. It’s that all the emphasis is focused on the First Layer of Content with little to no regard to the most important Second Layer of your Content.  

The fundamentals of digital marketing are still necessary. I enjoy trying, learning and implementing new strategies and technologies as much as the next guy, but we can’t let these shiny new objects distract us from what has been and remains important.  

What are your thoughts on your second layer content? 

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