‘S’ In SEO Now Means Stronger Brand Awareness, Reputation Tool
SEO has emerged from being a traditional site-traffic building tool to one that is more often viewed as a marketing tool for building brand awareness and brand reputation, according to analysis released Thursday by Forrester.
The survey of 266 executives and interviews with six SEO decision makers commissioned by digital marketing specialist Terakeet and conducted by Forrester in October 2019 found that 70% of executives associate SEO with having considerable impact on improving the perception of their brands.
When asked what perceived benefits survey participants expect from a reduction in negative search results about the brand, here’s what they said:
- 47% – improved user experience
- 45% – improved brand perception
- 45% – improved brand awareness
- 43% – higher conversion rates
- 42% – better lead generation
- 41% – improved market share
- 39% – improved position in competitive landscape
- 28% – increased ability to recruit and hire skilled staff
- 38% – increase in social followers
Paid results are meant to deliver the visitor to the brand’s or retailer’s website, not to offset the potential negative results that sit in organic listings, which can impact their business, said Patrick Danial, the co-founder and CTO at Terakeet. “We’re now seeing many more discussions around the value of the brand,” he said.
Still, 76% of marketers have the immediate reaction to ramp up paid-search efforts when a brand-damaging event is triggered, but too often they don’t give SEO the same attention.
The report — titled The New SEO Paradigm Shift — describes how it’s time for search marketers to rethink search engine optimization. Just optimizing keywords and content is no longer enough.
SEO does more than just drive traffic to a site. An SEO strategy applied across marketing functions can improve a brand’s reputation, reduce negative mentions, and improve lifetime customer value.
SEO shapes consumer perception of a brand.
The findings from the study show that about four out of five decision makers agree SEO will become increasingly important to their businesses in the next year and more important than it was two years ago. A key driver behind the increase is that nearly 70% of executives associate SEO with improving their brands’ perception.
- Companies taking a tactical approach to SEO see the most success. Firms that use SEO for brand management are a step ahead of those that are just optimizing for keywords and rankings
- SEO provides longer-term success, compared with paid search, according to the findings. Eighty-one percent of SEO leaders agree that SEO will become increasingly important in the next year, but 27% of SEO decision makers still say they are focused on quick wins, not long-term business results.
- Some 74% of respondents believe their customers moderately to considerably tie their perception of a brand to their perception of its executives. Companies cannot afford to underestimate the impact that the reputation of their executive leadership has on their brands.
One of the biggest challenges is that SEO leaders do not have the tools needed to measure organic search performance. While they use a range of tools such as web analytics platforms, content optimization tools, and keyword tools to manage and measure their SEO, this leaves organizations with a fractured view of the SEO performance.
Only 31% say their companies use comprehensive SEO tools.
Often marketers must use many tools for their overall SEO process as a result. Key considerations should focus on SEO technologies that produce high-ranking sites, improve crawl efficiency, spotlight physical locations, and audit website connections, according to the findings.
Some 41% of survey participants cite lack of skills as one of the top barriers to improving SEO processes, followed by 39% who point to an inability to measure, and 38% who cite a lack of budget.