We do SEO for a huge variety of clients. Some of them are everyday household names, some are much less established but very strong in their niche. Regardless of their size, they all have one thing in common when it comes to their website traffic. The keywords that drive the overwhelming majority of their website traffic are their brand names or branded product names.
We have worked with companies that in rare occasions that didn’t have top rankings for their names or brand product names before we started working with them, but quickly corrected the mistakes that lead to that happening. But for the most part it is a foregone conclusion that most companies, including our clients, have number one rankings for their own names.
Overall site traffic from search is dominated by brand names, and as demand for the brand by searchers goes so does site traffic. Obviously, external forces like TV, Radio, Print or online Social Buzz have a lot to do with building brand search demand that translates into website traffic. Provided the site ranking for those brand name keywords stays at number one, there isn’t much more your SEO agency or department can do to deliver more traffic on those brand searches, apart from hold a gun to searchers head and force them to search those brand names.
The priority of SEO for established brands is attaining and maintaining number one rankings for the brands branded keywords. This honestly isn’t that hard to do. The bulk of the SEO’s work is really not maintaining the brand rankings, the bulk of the work is winning the opportunities in search for people that haven’t decided on a brand.
The SEO Jump Ball Opportunity
For the researching or undecided searcher, the non-branded search query is more frequently than not the starting point in their quest to find what they need. This is the opportunity that most SEOs do the majority of their work on.
Keyword research, content development and acquisition of external link geared to those non-branded search queries are the ingredients in achieving top search engine visibility for the undecided searcher.
Barnes & Noble is obviously an established brand that likely gets a ton of search traffic on it’s own name. Barnes & Noble also out ranks Amazon and Borders Books on the search term “new books” with a number one ranking on my search. Delivering top visibility in search for the non-branded keyword and a great experience on the Barnes & Noble website will give them the opportunity to steal market share from other online book retailers with SEO.
Winning the battle on “toss-up” non-branded keywords also builds brand recognition with undecided searchers, and often keeps them coming back – but usually searching on the brand keywords on the next site visit.
Reliance on Brand Alone is a Wasted Opportunity in Search
For a great deal of the companies the Brand is everything. All other media is utilized to build and push a Brand image of their products and services on us. It’s a model that still works, and does deliver website traffic. But their is still a lot of lack of understanding about how search works. Search is about pulling in people with relevancy for what searchers are looking for, where as most brand advertising is about pushing an idealized view of a product or service that people aren’t necessarily looking for.
Pushing the brand in other advertising mediums absolutely results in driving the majority of search traffic to most commercial websites. But, that using that strategy alone leaves your website traffic and opportunities to convert completely dependent on the media pushing searchers to it – which can obviously be expensive to continually grow or even just maintain.
Brand Loyalty is on the decline. Why? Because consumers now have the Internet to research and evaluate products and services. Their is a ton of data, from reviews, to Facebook friend updates, to YouTube videos and product Fan sites. People don’t take the TV Commercial for granted as gospel truth. They utilize search both branded and non-branded to make decisions on what to buy. If you rely on just your brand to get you buy, you are operating at half the power you could be in search.
So how do you match up on the “jump ball” search queries for searchers not loyal to a brand? Chances are if you aren’t consciously utilizing SEO to achieve rankings on those queries you don’t stand a chance to show on the first page of search engine results for them in natural search.