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Brand Story & SEO

Nov 9, 2020
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What does your brand story have to do with SEO? EVERYTHING! In this video, we will walk through the importance of building a cohesive brand story and how that impacts search results today.


Video Transcript:

In this video, we're going to be talking about the importance of leveraging your brand story when it comes to your SEO strategy. Let's go.

As I said in the opener, we're going to be taking a look at brand story and SEO and why your story plays a central role in driving success, especially when it comes to search today. But before we get into the content, I want to say thanks for checking out this video. If you find it helpful, please hit the subscribe button and don't forget to turn on alerts. That way, you will be notified each and every time we create new content on our channel. So let's get into the content.

When Everything Is Siloed

When it comes to digital marketing strategies, this is how a number of businesses look at their marketing. They see different silos and different buckets, and they each have different purposes. We've got a search engine optimization team and they're just worried about traffic. We've got somebody working on conversions and email marketing. They're reaching out to customers, trying to engage in nurture leads. And then we've got people who we want to tell our brand story to, so we focus on social media and content marketing. We've siloed these, and there's usually not a lot of overlap between these groups. Maybe they know what the other group is doing, maybe they share a little bit of information, but in all reality, they're not really working together in sync. They don't have a common goal, they don't have a common purpose, and as a result, there are a lot of gaps in building a cohesive strategy.

Brand Story Weaves It All Together

This is how I think marketing should look where you start at the bottom where you build this brand story and the identity of who your company is. You know who you are, you know the values that you have and the values that drive your purpose, and you have a vision for that business that's going to help you drive strategy and real results. Then you go to amplify that story where you have a unified message throughout all channels, from SEO, to paid, to content, to social, to email, to outbound. Anything that you do, your story is the same. When you amplify that story, you have cohesiveness through it. When you touch people at different touchpoints, they're not interacting with a brand in a different way.

Then from here, it allows you to engage. This is where you can take this a step deeper. You have the one-to-many or the one-to-one conversations where your story has to float from the bottom up through everything else that you've done. You've optimized your strategy around who you are as a business and the people you're trying to reach and the values that you possess. How does this play a role when it comes to SEO? Well, if we look at search engines today, they've changed quite a bit, and they're not relying on the old algorithms as much. They adapted and built upon it and we're in the age of semantic search. They're looking at deeper connections.

Marketing to Two Groups

We've got two groups that we're marketing to. We have the users, which we're creating content for, we're trying to drive to our site, and we have the machines, which we also need to tell about our brand and our company. We want to make sure that we get indexed properly for the terms that match user intent. Both of these groups really meet in that group in the middle with intent where the user is looking for something and the search engine is trying to give them what it is that they're looking for. As brands, as companies, we've got to understand what our users are looking for, what the search engines are seeing as valuable content, and how we can position our brand story to match that user intent so that they take the next step and engage with us.

This is where we have that crossover in our strategy, and we have to think both creatively and technically as SEOs and as digital marketers in order to make sure that we position ourselves appropriately. Some of the questions we want to ask are what sets our brand apart? What makes us different in the competition? Why should we even be considered in the first place from both a user standpoint and then why should Google consider our brand? What makes our brand unique? What makes our brand valuable? What's makes us authoritative? What makes us trustworthy? What makes us an expert in the field? We have to really start to think about these things.

How do our values drive our story? What are the values that our brands have? Are we rugged? Are we tough? Are we soft? Are we sweet? What are the things that drive our story and make us who we are? What connects us with the needs of our audience? How do we empathize with them? How do we understand their needs and really break that down? And then why should or why would a user actually click on our link in search? And again, these are questions we want to ask from both the perspective of people, the people we're interacting with, and the search engines, because we have to consider both in this.

Need Clear Intent

This is a really important part before you start just optimizing for title tags or optimizing your content because if you don't understand the intent, you don't understand the role that your business plays in that, and how your content itself should map back to the deeper values of your company, you're going to really be missing out on some great opportunities. The search engines aren't going to have a clear idea of who you are and users are going to be confused by your messaging. While you may get some traffic or may get some clicks, you're probably not going to have long-term success because you haven't had this cohesive message throughout your entire strategy, throughout your entire campaign, and they don't understand your story. When people are confused, they go somewhere else. That's just nature. That's how we react.

Let's look at how this looks within the search results themselves. If we look at a query like the best tissues for a sore nose, we've got some ads on top here, but if you look right here in the People Also Asked, we see two brands pop up right away, which is better, Kleenex or Puffs? Now, those are two brands that tell two different types of stories. Puffs has got the commercial, a nose in need deserves Puffs indeed. I think about that when I see their branding, and I see their packaging even up here is enticing. They've got this puff, they've got the little girl in the cartoon. Kleenex is a little bit bland here.

What I'm looking at is this People Also Ask box. The fact that the search engines already know based on intent that people are going to be thinking of Kleenex and Puffs as two other options. If I'm in the tissue industry and I'm not Kleenex or Puffs, maybe I can look at this question and say, "People are asking, which is better Kleenex or Puffs? Maybe this is an opportunity for me to say why Kleenex and Puffs aren't the right choice, but my brand is. And here's why."

Here's another query, a little bit different industry. This is a computer for remote learning. If we notice, we see a featured snippet here at the top. Now, these are becoming more and more popular within search. We've talked about this quite a bit on our channel. But if you notice right here, we've got a Laptop Magazine article and the best laptops for remote learning. Here, we start to see brands right here and these different things. We have different feelings about these brands, especially Mac's have a very strong brand story. We've got Dell, which is a different type of brand story. And some of these are talking about remote learning, some of them aren't, based on Google point on those keywords.

If I'm either a computer company or somebody who's writing about technology for remote learning, I would want to look at how can I structure my content to tell this story as well? Review Geek down here, the best kid-friendly budget computers for remote learning. They went very specific on a niche and Google's even thinking, "Okay, I'm looking at computers for remote learning, but maybe people were looking for something that's more associated or more friendly for their children." That's something interesting to look at because they're looking at filling the gaps within the story. Somebody has a story around this query that they're telling themselves, "I need a computer that's reliable, that I can do homework on, that I could learn on, and I need it to be something that's not going to break." It may be people looking for this query also on a budget. And Google was already assuming that based on that top query here.

Search Results Highlight Brand Story

We want to make sure that we're looking at the search results and we understand some of the queries being used and some of the title tags being used and how they're assuming what the intent of that query is. From this one, we see some heaviness on some brands, some top brand names, we also see something about kid-friendly, we see about budgets. If we're in this industry and we market to them, we have to think about these when we're telling our story. These companies did. They earned some visibility for that.

In the last one here, people love their animals. They're always looking for ways to do fun things with their animals. If you ever had a dog and you fed them peanut butter, it can be a really fun experience, especially if you want to do some voiceovers later. But here's a query, what peanut butter is safe for dogs? Right at the top, we've got a featured snippet, but we also see these images here. Now, these images aren't necessarily in this article, this is part of the image pack. Again, if you're a brand and maybe you're a peanut butter brand, or you're a pet brand, you can mark up your images in order to give some brand visibility to your logos, your creatives that you're showing here.

That's one way to look at it, but we can also look at some of the problems and the issues that people are having. And look, they also see brand names here, Kraft peanut butter, Skippy peanut butter, peanut butter brands. What type of story do you want to tell for somebody looking like this? What kind of peanut butter is safe for dogs? This is a vet company. They're trying to help dog owners. If you're in the same industry, you're in the same area, you want to look at these queries, you want to understand what your brand story is and what you're trying to achieve. These people, they want to make sure that your dog, your animal's healthy. They want to provide you the information to make sure that your pet is as healthy as it can be, yet they can still have their favorite snack.

Brand Story Matters

As you can see, when you start to look at the search results, you can see how brand and more specifically, your brand story plays a big role in how you're positioned, how Google can trust the results, and whether or not, there may be some alternative searches and you can start to trigger other queries by having a strong brand story and people will say, "Well, I know brand X is really important." Then they might start using your brand in the queries into a point where Google starts saying that this is something important. This brand really knows what they're talking about, and it can raise that visibility of your company.

Here are some key takeaways. Your brand story is more than just your creatives and your content. It goes a lot deeper than that, and it goes into your values as a company, your purpose, your identity, how it all connects together, and how that story is being told across all the different channels we have for us today.

Now, search engines are most concerned with search intent and they want to make sure that the results that they're delivering match the intent of the searcher. Search intent should and can be used when you're developing your brand story. When you look at these queries and you understand what people are asking for, you can begin to align the searcher's intent, their needs with your values, and your propositions for them to actually engage with you as a business. The companies that do this, that clearly articulate their brand story and position themselves as an advocate in these areas will see increased visibility.

Don't overlook your brand story. It's not just for the creative department. SEO should be involved in this, and I believe in a lot of other aspects of building a site and building a digital strategy because when we share this information and we collaborate together, we don't only elevate ourselves in search, we also make sure that the story we're telling is amplified correctly through every channel that we have available to us online.

I hope you learned something different today. If you have any questions about what we talked about or you want to add something, please comment below. We'd love to continue that conversation with you. Don't forget to subscribe. We create new content each and every week. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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