In order to build substantial brand awareness in our increasingly digital culture, you need to account for online marketing.
Building brand awareness is a staple in nearly every successful marketing initiative. After all, nobody is going to buy anything from you if they have no idea you exist. Brand awareness is the essential first step for any marketing strategy. If the end goal is to increase sales and conversions through long-term brand loyalty, you must first start by creating that initial awareness and exposure.
Generating significant exposure and awareness for your brand is often very challenging, and it can become more difficult online where there’s a large amount of outside noise to contend with.
However, along with many challenges, there are also a great many opportunities to build brand awareness online.
In a recent Semrush Twitter Chat participants were asked:
What action has made the biggest impact on your online brand awareness in 2014?
There were a number of great answers and examples (and I urge you to check out the recap here). But what stuck out in my mind most was the impact search visibility had in terms of online brand awareness.
For people to be exposed to your brand online they must be able to find you, and this means you need to find ways to make yourself more visible and easy to find. Search provides one of the best channels to increase brand exposure and subsequent awareness online. People see Google’s search results as authoritative and relevant, and the more often they encounter your business in search the more authoritative they see your brand.
Visibility in Search
If you’re considering improving your online visibility, particularly for brand awareness, you should start by considering how you can improve your visibility within search.
Search engines are the primary means people use for finding websites and pages online. And if you want your brand to be more visible online, you need to ensure your brand is visible within search results relevant to your company.
There are two main sources of search visibility you can pursue: organic search or paid search. Both of these options can provide tremendous value.
Paid search of course deals with display ads and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). While I acknowledge its inherent value, I do not pretend to be an expert in paid search. But you can find a wealth of helpful information on this very blog.
On the other hand, I do have experience and expertise with improving visibility within organic search, specifically through link building. Links remain at the very core of Google’s search algorithm, and to improve your visibility within search you need to make links a consideration within your online marketing. Link building is still the best way to improve search visibility.
Links Improve Organic Search Presence
Links aid brand awareness efforts through an improved organic search presence.
As mentioned before, links are a primary ranking signal within Google’s algorithm, and building real and worthwhile links will lead to higher rankings in Google’s search results.
Search engines are the primary way people find information online. If you’re not in the top results for searches relevant to your business, your target audience online are going to overlook you. In fact, studies have shown that ~71% of searches resulted in a person clicking on a page one result, with ~67% of those clicks going to the first five results.
By building quality and relevant links — editorial votes from real websites — you build signals of trust and authority to Google, which will help you move higher in their search results. Even if you’re already ranking in one of those top five spots, you still need to actively pursue real links. Link building is a long term and ongoing investment into the future, and there are a number of factors that can impact your rankings if you simply rest on your laurels. Some factors include:
- Competition: Just because you’re happy and have stopped building quality links doesn’t mean your competitors have.
- Natural link attrition: Sites come and go and the web changes rapidly, it is natural to experience some link loss as time goes on.
- Negative SEO: Unfortunately there are unsavory SEO practitioners out there who would rather work to diminish your rankings than improve their own, and you need to at the very least be monitoring your backlinks to spot these attacks.
Along with helping you improve and sustain rankings, building links can also help you recover rankings. In a recent Google Webmaster Central Hangout, John Mueller (Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst) suggested that getting good links is a positive signal to the Penguin algorithm and something it can take into consideration.
The bottom line is building relevant and useful links will help your search rankings, and improved search rankings mean increased brand exposure and awareness in one of the most visible online marketing channels. If you want brand exposure within search, you need to optimize your link profile.
Links Build Brand Exposure Outside of Search
Although search engines provide the primary means for finding sites and pages online, there are still other ways to navigate the web apart from using search engines.
These navigational tools are called links.
While Google’s search results have changed and evolved over the years, at their most basic these results are lists of links. But outside of Google, links offer a way for users to get from one site to another, and this presents opportunities for exposure.
Links on other websites offer tremendous power in terms of brand exposure because they allow you to tap into another site’s audience. Not only is the link itself a mini advertisement, but a link can also drive referral traffic to your site. And if you’re building links the right way (on relevant websites) then you will be driving qualified traffic which can lead to increased conversions as well.
Every time a person comes across a link to your site from a site they trust, it’s an indicator of trust and authority. The more often someone encounters your links, the more positive associations they’ll make with your brand. Not only is this great exposure, but it’s also excellent branding.
Links Create Brand Authority
Along with creating exposure and building brand awareness, links can also build brand authority and establish your brand as a thought leader.
Links themselves are votes of confidence. When a webmaster links to you, they are saying they trust and endorse your site, and want to share it with their users. As you build more and more links on relevant sites around the web, users will increasingly come across your site and brand and begin to associate your brand with authority.
Also, ranking highly in Google is really a signal of authority in and of itself. People trust Google to deliver relevant and quality results, and if you’re ranking in the top spots that trust gets transferred to your brand.
Increasing brand awareness is important, but if you want to build on that progress you can take your branding initiative to the next level by cultivating authority and thought leadership for your brand.
Building brand awareness is critical to a business’ lifetime success. If you want to increase conversions and sales you need to first increase brand awareness — nobody is going to buy from you unless they first know you exist.
One of the best ways to improve online brand awareness and exposure is through a highly visible marketing channel like search. To improve your search visibility, you can:
- Utilize paid search strategies and best practices
- Build relevant and useful links to improve search rankings
- Gain exposure through qualified referral traffic from links on relevant and authoritative websites
You want people to have positive associations when they think of your company and brand. At the very least, you need people know your brand exists. As the digital world continues to become more ingrained in our everyday lives, online marketing has an ever-increasing role in building a brand and company that people respect and are familiar with.