Obviously the number one goal of any SEO campaign is to drive more customers to your small business website which ultimately leads to more sales and more revenues. But there is an extremely important side effect of SEO that in some cases is equally as important as website traffic and that is branding.
Branding is simply bring awareness of your product or service to your consumers. Every time people search on search engines and they see your company’s result they are being “branded” with your company name in their mind. So even though they might not click through to your website, they at least see your company and usually will remember your company’s name for the future. The big problem with this, however, is that there is no immediate way to measure the effects or benefits of branding. We can run reports that tell us how many impressions your website has on search engines, but we have no way of knowing if these people were “branded” with your company’s name.
While this type of branding plays an important role in business growth, development, and awareness, there is actually a more important type of branding that I think SEO delivers. Let’s say you own a financial services company in Topeka, Kansas and someone drives past your office and jots down your company name. They then jump on search engines and search first for your company name–you sure better come up with your website in the number 1 position or they will immediately wonder why you aren’t showing up and might even end their search here. Then they might search for “Financial Services Topeka” and if they see your website pop up in the top spot or at least the top 3 spots for this keyword there’s a huge chance they will contact you to learn about your services.
This type of SEO is what I like to call “Reputation Management SEO” in which someone is already aware of your small business’ product/service but they are doing a little research into your company. Reputation management SEO can also take form when your business has one or two upset customers that are writing negative reviews and we want to bump those off the first page of search results using SEO tactics.
So aside from direct clicks to your website, SEO can have various benefits, some that we realize and others that we don’t such as brand awareness and reputation management. Either way and however you view it, SEO is a critical part of any small business online marketing and getting your site ranked on top of search results can only help bring new customers in the door.