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Massive brands usually have massive marketing budgets, which means the opportunity to do increasingly creative and exciting advertising campaigns to get more customers. Their marketing could involve elaborate social media campaigns, TV or radio advertisements or even the sponsorship of huge events. It can also mean a very flashy (literally) and well designed website.
Brands this big may feel SEO is low on the priority list when it comes to creating a new website, but it should be just as important as flashy graphics, visuals and user experience, as it is the most long term and sustainable form of marketing available. SEO should function as an on-going strategy in the background to bring in extra revenue as other advertising campaigns come and go over time.
Why Is SEO Important to Brands That Get Lots of Direct & Brand Visits?
SEO is important simply because the objective of any business is always to make more money. If you think “oh well I’ve got hundreds of thousands of visits a month, why should I bother myself with SEO?”, then you are doing the company and shareholders a disservice by ignoring the potential to increase these figures further:
- SEO can increase visits and therefore revenue – if you are found for categories and products/services, rather than just your own brand, you are going to get more people visiting your website and therefore buying things or signing up for services.
- Brand awareness/reputation – just because you have a big brand already doesn’t mean you can’t attract even more customers. Brand searches come from those who you’ve ensnared already, while SEO visits come from people looking for the products or services that you offer.
What Are The Common Issues?
Well, the common issues for big brand website SEO can be traced back to the creation of the site itself. Due to Google’s “brand” aspect of the algorithm, big brands naturally rank higher for key terms without having to go through as much effort with off-page SEO (such as link building) as smaller websites do. This is because they get a lot of natural links. What they need to do to make sure they take advantage of this is to ensure that the website is well constructed in a search engine friendly manner.
This means URLs should be descriptive and simple, the structure of the site logical, tags correct, duplicated content avoided and the right sort of content used on each page. It also means the website should be HTML based, rather than built using Flash technology which Google cannot read.
Unfortunately, these are all major on-page issues found on a lot of big brand websites, which can stop a website from performing to its full potential in the search engines. It is not difficult for your developers or agency to build a search-engine-friendly website, but they have to be told to – in other words it is something that should be in the scoping document, therefore thought of at a very early stage. An SEO professional should be involved in the website build at all stages to ensure the result can be optimised effectively.
What Types of Websites Can Be Affected?
Now just to make it clear, some brands stand to benefit from SEO more than others. For example, McDonalds will only have to make the bare minimum of SEO effort as most people will be searching for brand terms like “McDonalds”, “Big Macs”, or their latest competitions, all of which they will likely naturally rank for anyway. They don’t really sell products online so they don’t really have to worry about ongoing revenue generation from their website. However, their website does need to meet users needs by describing their brand, their products and guide people to their nearest restaurant.
The main types of sites that can really suffer are in e-commerce, and these are the sites that stand to gain sales if the SEO is done well, by ranking higher for terms related to the products sold by the brand. These brands can be split into two categories:
- Retailers – those that sell other people’s products
- Manufacturers – those who make products that are sold by retailers but have their own online shops where customers can buy direct.
The next two posts in this series will take a look at the websites for big brands to understand how SEO can be used both effectively and poorly. This will include analysis on the issues surrounding the SEO campaigns for well known retailers and manufacturers.