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SEO vs. Branding: Which is More Important?

Small businesses are obsessed with SEO. We can’t tell you the amount of business owners who reach out to us and say, “I need SEO. I want to be #1 in Google.”

Sound like something you may have said?

Search engine optimization is important, but before putting all your eggs in the SEO basket, let’s back it up for a second and talk about your ultimate goal: generating more business. You want more exposure, more leads, more clients, and more money.

We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but SEO alone will not accomplish that.

SEO will help you get more exposure. It will help you get found, and be seen. But…

…without strong branding, compelling calls-to-action, and a killer sales funnel, your SEO strategy is likely to fall flat (and cost you a ton of money in the process).

The Importance of Branding to Support Your SEO Strategy

Showing up first in Google is great, but if people click to your website, and it’s a branding nightmare, they’re as good as gone. Branding isn’t just your logo—it’s the whole vibe of your business. It shows consumers that you’re professional, credible, and knowledgable, while giving your business a personality they can relate to.

Take a look at your website, and audit these branding elements:

1. Is your logo professional, recognizable and prominent?

2. Are you using the same 2–3 fonts throughout the site, and using them consistently?

3. Does your imagery have a consistent look and feel?

4. Taking in the overall site, how does it make you feel? Is that the feeling you want to evoke in website visitors?

You may also want to look at your competitors’ websites—not to copy them (PSA: just because a competitor is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s successful for them), but to see if the general professionalism of your website is on par with the companies you’re up against. Ask your team how they feel about your website—are they proud to show it off? Or, reach out to a select few colleagues to see how they feel about your website.

The bottom line is that, your website has to look good. It can’t just be a wall of SEO content. While that might look good to Google, it doesn’t to your target audience…and, last we checked, they’re the ones writing the checks.

Compelling Calls-to-Action are Key

These days, it takes consumers an average of 5–8 touchpoints with a brand before they make a purchase decision. Ideally, you want to have control over some of those touchpoints, and by having compelling, measurable calls-to-action (a.k.a. lead magnets) on your website, you can collect user data, and continue marketing to these leads via other avenues.

Some proven lead magnets include:

• e-Newsletter optins

• Blog subscribes (scroll to the bottom of this post to see how we’ve implemented this call-to-action)

• Free event registrations

• Social media follows

• Free e-Book downloads

Including compelling calls-to-action amplifies your SEO strategy by giving people meaningful and measurable ways to interact with your brand once they land on your website.

Once again, a website loaded with pages of search engine optimized content might bring in a lot of organic traffic…but if you aren’t giving visitors multiple opportunities to act, you’re missing the mark. Remember: not everyone who lands on your website is going to be ready to pick up the phone and call you…but they may be ready to subscribe to your blog, or download a free resource. Use calls-to-action that meet your consumers wherever they are in the decision-making process.

Crafting a Killer Follow-Up Funnel

Let’s imagine you scored that top spot in Google search results, and that your website is well-designed, well-branded, and rich with a variety of calls-to-action.

That’s great!

But, what’s your follow-up?

Remember the 5–8 touchpoints that consumers need with a brand before they make a purchase decision? This is where they come into play. There are a few key follow-up strategies that we suggest you implement in your own marketing program:

1. Using pixel data from your website, retarget visitors via social media or pay-per-click ads.

2. Craft strategic, highly-personalized email nurturing campaigns that help drive prospects closer to the finish line.

3. Make sure you’re posting valuable, informational, or entertaining content to your social media channels

Let’s Get Down to Brass Tacks Here…

Before we have an angry tirade of SEO experts pounding on our door, we’re not saying that SEO isn’t important or worth investing in. It absolutely is. It’s just that it’s not a standalone strategy. If your business only invests in SEO, yeah, you might land that top spot in Google…but you won’t generate a positive return on that investment.

The small businesses we work with have finite budgets, and SEO consulting is expensive. For a small business to target the top spot in Google for a highly competitive keyword, it’s going to cost a lot of money. Without other marketing strategies in the mix to support your SEO efforts, you’re just not going to see the results you want.

At Birdhouse Marketing & Design, we develop and implement comprehensive, integrated marketing strategies that check all the boxes—not just the SEO box. If you’d like to brainstorm some marketing strategies to implement at your company, get in touch with us today. You can reach us using the brief form below, or by calling (617) 433-8026.

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Written by Robin Agricola

Robin is the founder and CEO of Birdhouse Marketing & Design. She holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing from UMass Boston, as well as undergraduate degrees in Marketing Communications and Creative Writing from Emerson College. She founded Birdhouse Marketing & Design, LLC in 2012, and the rest is history.

September 7, 2023

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