3 Ways To Use SEO for Brand Awareness

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Building a brand takes effort. You need to be where the people will see you and one of the most important channels for reaching your target audience today is the web. The good news is that you can use SEO for brand awareness.

Sure, you can invest in other marketing and advertising channels and you should where it makes sense (fun fact: the ol’ direct mail strategy still shows the highest return on investment).

But you simply can’t ignore the fact that 93% of all shopping journeys now begin online.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to use SEO for brand awareness, and cover the following topics:

What Is Brand Awareness?

Brand awareness is how familiar people are with your brand and its offerings. Building strong brand awareness:

  • Increases customer loyalty. Familiar brands are more likely to be chosen over lesser-known ones.
  • Supports product launches and promotions. High brand awareness can make new products or services more successful because consumers are already familiar with the brand.
  • Creates positive associations. Brand awareness strategies can help shape the perceptions of a brand, making it more likely that customers will think of it positively.
  • Drives market share. Brands with high awareness tend to have a larger market share because they are at the top of consumers’ minds.

Overall, brand awareness influences consumer decisions and positions a brand well in competitive markets. And there isn’t a more competitive market than the search engine results.

Brand awareness is the first step in the customer journey, which I’ll touch on next.

How SEO Supports the Customer Journey

Since about nine out of 10 shopping experiences start online, the ability to show up when people search for your brand and what you have to offer is obviously very important.

A customer journey, also known as a buyer or consumer decision journey, refers to the steps a person takes to decide to buy a product, a service, or to convert in some other way.

Different theories out there discuss the customer journey.

For example, the AIDA model describes a linear journey that starts with a person’s awareness of the brand, product, or service and ends with an action (like a purchase, download, or something else).

AIDA Funnel Diagram.

There are other viewpoints, like McKinsey’s, which shows that the consumer journey is more cyclical.

McKinsey Customer Journey Diagram.

In either case, both customer journey theories start with brand awareness. For more, see my article How SEO Supports the Customer Journey.

Research on Brand Awareness and the Search Results

In an October 2023 survey conducted by Bruce Clay Inc. using a third-party research platform, we uncovered the impact of brand awareness on customer decision-making:

  • Google is the No. 1 place where people discover brands online, followed by social media at No. 2.
  • Sixty-five percent (65%) of consumers reported purchasing from a competing brand if the brand they were searching for was hard to find on Google.
  • When asked how many times consumers discovered a brand on Google when they weren’t intending to purchase from them (but ultimately did purchase from them), the majority (40%) of consumers made an impulse purchase based on search results up to five times in the past year.

The bottom line: SEO strategies help put a brand front and center where people are looking.

SEO for Brand Awareness: 3 Strategies

Now that we’ve covered brand awareness, its role in the customer journey and the role of search engine results in creating it, let’s examine three ways SEO can support the brand awareness initiative.

1. Do Keyword Research to Boost Brand Awareness

When people search for what you have to offer — or even your brand name — your website must appear prominently in the search results.

This all starts with keyword research. Keyword research enables you to uncover the words and phrases your target audience uses around your brand and its offerings.

Once you have this, you can begin to build an online marketing and advertising strategy. You can blend things like SEO and PPC so that your brand shows up in the search results for those terms.

When you are doing your keyword research, you will work to uncover:

  • Branded keywords: Branded keywords include the name of a company only and/or specific products and services linked directly to the brand. For instance, “Nike running shoes” or “Apple iPhone” are branded keywords because they contain the company’s name. On the other hand, a branded term could also just be “Nike.”
  • Generic terms: Non-branded keywords do not include any brand names and typically focus on generic terms or broader concepts. Examples include “running shoes” or “smartphone.”

The main difference between branded and non-branded keywords lies in the intent. Branded keywords usually indicate a higher intent to purchase or interact with a specific brand, as the searcher has a particular company in mind.

People use non-branded keywords when they are more in the exploratory phase, which is usually associated with information-gathering and the early stages of the buying process. These terms are usually more competitive.

A good SEO strategy will explore both. The goal is to get as much real estate in the search results as possible. If you don’t show up for that keyword, your competition will.

What do you do once you have selected your keywords?

  • Create a content strategy around the keywords — they will dictate what type of content to create on your website and elsewhere so that you have a chance to compete in the search results. For more on this, check out my article on the whole-SERP strategy.
  • Make sure you are bidding on your brand name and other keywords in a PPC advertising campaign. To learn more, see my article on bidding on branded keywords.

There are many tools out there to conduct keyword research. You can get your feet wet with our free keyword research tool or for a more serious project, subscribe to our SEO software, the SEOToolSet, for access to the Keyword Suggestions tool.

Creating content around your brand comes in many forms. Next, let’s look at ways to increase brand awareness online through content.

2. Use Press Releases + SEO for Brand Awareness

If you have something newsworthy, consider creating a press release. Press releases offer many benefits, including:

  • Boosting brand awareness.
  • Increased traffic to a website.
  • More public relations opportunities, including journalist interviews.
  • Contributions to your brand’s perceived E-E-A-T, which are quality metrics from Google.

When you create and distribute a press release, that press release publishing platform hosts it and pushes it out to other news sites.

From there, it can potentially be picked up by other media, journalists may reach out for an interview, and people may share it on their social media platforms.

Ultimately, you may get traffic to a website and valuable backlinks if you are featured in an article.

So, press releases are a great tool for generating brand awareness on the web.

There are best practices for creating press releases. Some of these best practices use SEO strategies to optimize press releases for brand awareness.

Here are some tips:

  • Issue newsworthy press releases: Focus only on truly newsworthy events such as proprietary research, product launches, major company events, significant partnerships, or corporate milestones.
  • Create original, engaging content: Given the high volume of press releases published daily, write original and genuinely interesting content. Avoid treating the release merely as an advertisement; provide valuable content that readers will find compelling.
  • Follow formatting best practices: Adopt a journalistic approach by addressing the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” at the beginning of the release, using the inverted pyramid style. Keep your content concise and use AP style formatting.
  • Make it engaging: Include engaging elements like relevant statistics, quotes from key stakeholders, and images to enrich the content and provide useful assets that journalists can directly incorporate into their coverage.
  • Research keywords: Conduct thorough keyword research related to your topic. To enhance visibility, incorporate these keywords prominently in the headline and within the first 250 words of the press release.
  • Limit links: Use primarily navigational links within your press releases, typically directing to your homepage or a relevant page using the company name or domain as anchor text. Avoid excessive linking and ensure any necessary links are contextually appropriate, such as linking to both companies in a merger announcement.
  • Nofollow links: To comply with SEO best practices, ensure that any links in your press releases include a “nofollow” or equivalent attribute. If your current distribution service doesn’t support this, consider switching to one that does.
  • Distribute and share: Use a reputable press release distribution service that can provide insights into how many and which media outlets have picked up your release. After distribution, amplify your press release via social media and consider posting a summary or the full release on your own website to maximize exposure and engagement.

There are many press release distribution services out there. Here are three to consider:

  1. EIN Presswire
  2. PRWeb
  3. eReleases

For more on using press releases to generate buzz for your brand, see Social and PR Practices That Support SEO for Beginners.

3. Use a Whole-SERP Strategy for Brand Awareness

Earlier, I talked about a “whole-SERP” SEO strategy. This strategy analyzes the features that show up most in the search results (not just the traditional “blue links”) for target keywords and then optimizes for them.

Parts of Search Engine Results Page.
Different parts of the search engine results page

This approach is increasingly important as:

  • Google frequently updates its search algorithms and SERP formats, introducing various features like knowledge panels, image results and video content from different verticals, such as YouTube.
  • Evolving changes to search technology means the search results are directly answering searchers and bypassing websites; a whole-SERP strategy means brands can enhance visibility across different types of search results and remain competitive.

To optimize effectively for the whole SERP, here are the foundations:

  • Understand Universal Search and search verticals: Google pulls information from various sources and databases, including video from platforms like YouTube, which appear directly in the SERPs, images from your website and much more. This can impact if your brand shows up in the search results.
  • Analyze keywords and SERPs: Identify which SERP features are associated with your target keywords and tailor your content to appear in these features, whether it’s video, images, or standard listings.
  • Improve content quality: Focus on surpassing the competition in terms of content quality and optimizing the content for user experience and engagement. Tools like our SEO plugin for WordPress can assist in aligning content with these goals.

Next, you will consider how to include multimedia on your site in a way that optimizes it for ranking in the search results and creates a more engaging experience.

Here are some tips on how to optimize your site:

  • Include images, and optimize those images. Read more: How to Improve Google Image Search Ranking.
  • Create videos on YouTube and embed those videos on your site for further engagement. Read more: A CMO’s Guide to YouTube SEO.
  • Create press releases and archive those press releases in a news section on your website. (See the section above for more tips.)
  • For more chances to rank, host a blog and create quality content regularly (driven by your keyword strategy).

For more on this topic, see: The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist.

Looking for additional guidance on boosting brand awareness with SEO? Our experts are standing by to assist! 

Final Thoughts

SEO may not be the first strategy that comes to mind when you think of brand awareness campaigns, but it is surprisingly effective at reaching your target audience. Follow the steps in this article to get your brand top of mind more often and drive more leads, customers and sales.

FAQ: How do SEO Strategies Impact the Customer Journey in Terms of Brand Awareness?

SEO strategies greatly influence the customer journey, particularly in the area of brand awareness. They can be instrumental in improving your brand’s presence on search engines like Google and helping customers, readers and fans find your business.

Before you can implement any SEO-focused initiative, you first need to know what good SEO looks like.

Effective website optimization begins with gathering a thorough understanding of your audience’s demographic and needs. And you can figure that out by conducting keyword research. Purposeful keyword analysis helps you pinpoint terms and phrases searchers use to find similar products or services.

After selecting the most promising keywords, the next step is to sprinkle them throughout your site. You may use them in page titles, meta descriptions, blogs, articles and image alt texts. This gives search engines the information they need to learn what your site is all about, which can increase your SERP rankings and boost awareness of your company.

Two other promising search engine optimization strategies include marketing and content creation. Regularly putting out top-notch, relevant content that actually delivers value to users drives higher rankings on top search engines.

And that’s only part of it. It can also position your brand as a trusted industry authority and provide benefits like ranking improvements and a more positive brand perception. This directly enhances brand awareness.

The link-building aspect of SEO is incredibly important. It’s all about encouraging other respectable sites to link to your website from theirs.

Google and other search engines view link building as a sign indicating that you’re trustworthy and authoritative. With ongoing and effective link building, your business will see more traffic and higher rankings—over time, more and more people will know your brand.

Technical SEO is responsible for retaining site visitors. It concerns how quickly your website loads, the quality of the mobile user experience and the level of website security; it has a monumental effect on customer interactions through your site.

Slow, complicated, and risky sites are not conducive to a good user experience; in fact, they could easily deter potential customers, tanking your brand awareness efforts. Getting a good handle on the aforementioned technical components does the opposite, helping you retain visitors rather than drive them away. It also shows that your site is a reliable authority in your field.

Never underestimate the importance of social shares, comments and likes when crafting your SEO strategy. Building a presence on social media and engaging with your audience there can bring more traffic to your website, increase its success on the SERPs and boost brand recognizability.

Businesses operating in a set geographical area or in physical locations should look into local SEO. It involves creating content that appeals to local areas, ensuring consistency in business information across online platforms and registering the business with local directories. Such tactics help local customers find your company, come in for a visit, or engage with your online content.

Search engine algorithms never stay the same for long. So, it’s critical to stay at the forefront of all things SEO. Tactics that used to work ten years ago, or even last year, won’t necessarily work today. And some of those old practices could even bring about penalties.

So, it’s always wise to conduct continual audits and adjust strategies as needed to align with the latest algorithmic updates. These efforts work to bolster brand acknowledgment.

SEO is a long-game – not a sprint. And this can be difficult for some businesses to accept. Just remember that it pays off over time. Consistently put out quality content, build your backlinks and fine-tune the technical components of your site. All of this effort will result in improved brand awareness and a stronger online presence.

Step-by-Step Procedure:

  1. Do some keyword Research: Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and SEOToolSet are all great tools you can use to find keywords. But not just any keywords – ones that people are using to find products and services like yours.
  2. Optimize the website’s metadata: Use the chosen keywords in page titles, meta descriptions, headers and alt text. Ensure nothing sounds robotic or unnatural.
  3. Produce valuable content for your audience: Post helpful and engaging blogs, social media posts and web pages that appeal to customers and clearly answer their most burning questions.
  4. Create an editorial calendar: Plan out every aspect of your editorial strategy, like what will be published, who will create it, when things are assigned/due, pertinent notes, and more.
  5. Change meta descriptions and titles when needed: Each website page needs gripping meta descriptions and titles that contain SEO keywords.
  6. Implement technical SEO best practices: Winning tactics include using HTTPS, improving page load times and optimizing for mobile.
  7. Come up with a strategy for link building: Submit guest blogs, contact authorities in your industry for backlinks and create shareable media. These practices are central to any link-building strategy.
  8. Bolster local SEO efforts: Make sure the business’s name, address and phone number are consistent across social media, your main website and anywhere else. Create a Google Business Profile and optimize your business’s listing. Then, search local directories and get registered.
  9. Take advantage of social media: Create accounts on social media sites, share your content on these sites and engage with your audience.
  10. Gauge performance: Use Google Analytics and other performance tools to gauge the effectiveness of your site’s SEO performance. Be on the lookout for areas of improvement.
  11. Stay up to date on algorithm changes: Subscribe to SEO news outlets and read articles and blogs so you won’t be left in the dark about algorithm changes. Use the information to update search marketing strategies as needed.
  12. Optimize images and videos: You can reduce image and video load times by compressing files, writing descriptive filenames and using alt tags.
  13. Create an XML sitemap: Submit your XML sitemap to Google, Bing and other search engine giants to improve your website’s indexing potential.
  14. Incorporate schema markup: Help search engines classify and understand your pages with schema markup.
  15. Implement an internal linking strategy: Be sure that the website has a logical structure, and use descriptive anchor text.
  16. Bolster user experience: To deliver a smooth user experience and reduce bounce rates, write clear calls-to-action and improve the site’s navigation.
  17. Craft email marketing campaigns: Send newsletters to your subscriber base to keep your brand top of mind and increase traffic.
  18. Showcase customer testimonials: Instill trust in website visitors by displaying positive customer reviews and testimonials in pertinent areas of the website.
  19. Make regular updates: Add new information and insights to existing blogs and web pages to keep them fresh.
  20. Do a competitive analysis: Evaluate competitors’ strategies to find out what’s working for them. Take note of any gaps your business can capitalize on.
  21. Set SMART goals: For the best results, SEO goals should always be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).
  22. Check your backlink profile: In addition to soliciting links from industry authorities, evaluate any existing backlinks and disavow low-quality links that could do more harm than good.
  23. Calculate Return on Investment: Tally up your SEO return on investment on a regular basis to ensure that your efforts are sustainable and financially wise.

Following the above strategies and continually watching for new developments in SEO can help you develop your online presence. Over time, your business will enjoy more traffic, more customers and improved brand recognizability.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (3)
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3 Replies to “3 Ways To Use SEO for Brand Awareness”

This is a great starting point for using SEO to enhance brand awareness!

In addition to the strategies you mentioned, creating visually appealing infographics and other content optimized with relevant keywords can be a powerful way to capture attention and encourage social media shares, which further amplifies brand awareness.

This is a great starting point for using SEO for brand awareness!

Great points! SEO goes beyond just ranking high for keywords. Using targeted content and building backlinks can really help establish your brand as an authority in your niche. I’d also add that creating infographics or other visual content optimized with relevant keywords can be a great way to grab attention and get shared on social media, further boosting brand awareness.

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