In my recent SEO seminar I put search engine optimization firmly in the context of branding and building customer relationships. My premise:
- Web users want: what they want, when they are ready, wherever they are, and in just the way they want it
- People don’t want to ‘search’, they want to ‘find’, so SEO must foster user-centred and brand-oriented keyword thinking and writing
Online Channels are about: Dialogue and Conversation
- They work because of: Relevance and Timeliness
- They demand: Authenticity
In that sense then, brand matters. Because trust can be won and lost in an instant. And search engines are often the first encounter a web user has with your brand; they might also be the last encounter when web users choose another listing over yours.
I used a simple three step process to explain the importance of SEO from a brand point of view.
- Search for company name, or important keyword relating to your company in a search engine (do this with the top 3 search engines and note the differences): What does the listing say? Is the headline and short description search engines use understandable and a meaningful communication about your brand? Does it leave the right impression?
- Look at your company’s homepage: Identify where each engine is getting the information it shows from? Typically search engines use title tags – that’s the text that shows up in the browser’s tab – and either words appearing on the site or the description meta tag, if you have one set up.
- Title tags and meta tags: Anyone can, you included, look at the source code of your web site. Most likely its in a menu drop down like “View – Source”. Or look for developer in the page icon drop down. Title and meta tags should be easily found at the top of the page for each of your web pages.
This may well be the first step to making improvements to your web presence that are championed beyond the confines of the web team, or maybe the web and marketing teams.
Because, SEO is a way to ensure your brand is effectively communicated. It is also a way to be found by the right people in the online environment.