If you are creating web content without regard for your brand, then the keywords you use will only create disappointing results from your efforts.

Your site might rank for something, but maybe it is not the something that will generate leads. Search ranking is an ever-moving target. Your competitors are making changes to their search ranking by adding pages and tweaking the optimization on each page. What can you do to out-strategize the competition? The answer lies in being different. Don’t try to be your competition.  Create a brand that is unique and this will lead to better search engine ranking.

How does branding fit in with search engine ranking?

You can attract visitors to your site, but will they come back? Will they be interested in the rest of your content? If the focus is only on rank position and number of clicks, then the lead generation activities will fall short. One strategy would be to find all the phrases you think you can rank for on page one. Another would be to look for niche markets.  But our recommendation is to clarify your brand and use that as your guide. Make sure you know why customers come to you, what you offer that your competition doesn’t offer. This will lead you to get to know your customers on a new level. And that will help to define your brand.

Here is an approach to follow:

Step 1: Create a survey for your sales staff, receptionist, anyone that talks to customers. You can also use an online survey when visitors come to your site using a pop-up, or use a SurveyMonkey type of service.  Don’t ask how they found your business or website, instead ask what their last search was related to x.

X is something connected to your business.

Example – You manage a successful dental practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. You would ask your patients – have you ever searched for information about your dental health online? If the answer is yes, then ask what they searched for. What questions did they have?  When you found us using a search engine what made us stand out?  Why did you select us rather than another dentist and did you see information online line or offline?

Step 2: Record the answers in a spreadsheet and put them into a keyword research tool. This can be of the highly popular tools on Google or others – here is a list – courtesy of Ahrefs.com blogs. Yes, you can use tools like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer which have tons of data, features, and filters. But what if you’re just starting out and can’t justify paying for any SEO tools? Here are some free keyword tools to help kick start your search strategy:

We note the number of searches per month for a target phrase, competition ranking for Google for this phrase High = 1, Low = 10.  One key issue is that the Google Keyword tool is really meant for AdWords programs. So long-tail keywords aren’t a high priority for this tool. Step 3:  Now that you have looked at the keywords in the tools, you may have a lot of suggestions for keyword phrases. Review each and assess the following:

  1. How relevant is this to my business? Give the Phrase a 1, 2, or 3 (1 being not very relevant and 3 being very relevant).
  2. Do I have any content around this, if not give it a lower priority and put it in the IDEA file.
  3. Is my competition ranking for this phrase.  (use a service such as https://app.buzzsumo.com)
  4. Am I already ranking for this keyword
  5. Do I have pages on my site I can link to with this phrase?
  6. Are there calls to action on the relevant page

So even though the flossing phrase has less competition, the subject is less relevant to the example’s website. Therefore the final score is lower. Your brand is that you provide top-quality dental education to schools locally and abroad.  You are the best known dental office in your town because you sponsor educational contests and your website is all about education.  You have several videos on YouTube and they are popular with the kids and parents. Remember the goal is to select phrases that are most relevant to your business. After you have established your brand. That will help you stand out.

Post by Barbara Irias,  contact her at 510.519.6402, or birias@placemakinggroup.com You may also want to read Do Social Media Links Help SEO? or Use Link Building to Boost Search Engine Ranking.