What is the Difference Between SEO Goals and Branding Goals?

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:

  1. You create great content.
  2. Your content gains visibility, increasing its SERP rankings.
  3. More people discover your brand.
  4. Those people instantly fall in love with your brand, generating even more interest in your product.
  5. More people buy your product.
  6. 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.

Remy Bernstein
Content Marketing
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Remy Bernstein is the COO of Longneck & Thunderfoot, a brand publishing company with offices in New York and St. Louis. A founding member of the Columbia University Startu ... Click for full bio

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips

Written by: Shileen Weber

When the American Funds’ Capital Group  asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.

It was client issues.

At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.

It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.

In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.

But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.

Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.

Content is King

Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.

Review what content is already available to you:  Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.

Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.

Related: What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?

The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.

Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.

Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.

Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.

Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.

Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.

The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.

Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio