What is the Difference Between SEO Goals and Branding Goals?

Written by: Andrew Schemeerbauch

Building a brand requires more than just search engine rankings.

You might think your SEO goals and your branding goals are one and the same, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here’s why:

The Misconception

Content marketers often claim that great content will generate tons of relevant organic search traffic from Google and its competitors. The logic, generally speaking, is something along these lines:

  • You create great content.
  • Your content gains visibility, increasing its SERP rankings.
  • More people discover your brand.
  • Those people instantly fall in love with your brand, generating even more interest in your product.
  • More people buy your product.
  • Your sales skyrocket, and you finally get to build that swimming pool full of cash you’ve always wanted.
  • The Reality

    While great content and great branding often go hand in hand, they are very seldom the same thing. And as nice as a swimming pool full of cash would be, you’re unlikely to get there with content marketing alone.

    The purpose of content marketing is to create and promote a piece of shareable, engaging content that will benefit your company’s SEO efforts. Brand publishing, on the other hand, takes the idea from that single article and applies it to the entire business. And here’s the issue with confusing your SEO and branding goals: organic search rankings barely offer any branding benefit at all! In other words, although search might help your bottom line, it’s unlikely to help you build brand recognition among consumers.

    Sure, a potential customer who is seeking answers to questions that your publication provides may see your domain name or the headline of your article in their search results cue. But at the end of the day, if they don’t click the link, they’re not interacting with your brand — they’re interacting with Google. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t improve your brand recognition at all.

    The Importance of Brand Publishing

    For a moment, think of your brand publication as if it were a physical store — one that has both a front door and a display window. You have a blue front door. It’s a perfectly fine door, but your door isn’t branded or any more interesting than any of the other 10 blue doors around you. People can choose to open it and poke around — or not.

    This is what it’s like when people discover your brand as a search result on Google.

    Your store also has a display window. It’s the place where you can showcase your best merchandise. People going about their day might see something that catches their eye, and thus you successfully entice them to check out what the shop has to offer.

    This is what it’s like when people discover your branded website through advertising.

    The audience you gain from display and social ads won’t offer any direct SEO benefits, just as doing all the right things to rank well on Google won’t generate any branding value. That’s why your branding goals are an essential consideration: because your product and brand are not, in fact, one and the same.

    It’s not just about creating great content – it’s about creating content that shows consumers who you are, not just what you sell.