If you’re a business owner, you know that ranking in Google is critical to generating new leads online. It used to be fairly simple, hire a web design firm to build you a nice looking website, have them search engine optimize it, and wait for the calls to come in. But as SEO companies figured out how to rank well consistently, consumers started getting smarter about what search results they chose. And as a result, Google rewards brand building.
What Google noticed about how people interact with brands in search results
We’ve all seen the change in search results in the last decade, I recently attended a business conference where the owner of a large locksmith company in town complained about all of the bogus search results above hers in Google. The results she was talking about were generated by referring websites posing as local businesses or local listings that send the business to sometimes unscrupulous service providers in return for a cut of the fee. Established, legitimate businesses, were not going to work with these referring companies, so who was left? You guessed it, people that couldn’t get business any other way. Don’t take it from me though, here’s what Google CEO Eric Schmidt had to say about it a few years back:
“The internet is fast becoming a ‘cesspool’ where false information thrives.”
“Brands are the solution, not the problem.”
“Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”
“[Branding] may be an essential element that helps people navigate the world. Brand affinity is clearly hard wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.”
70 percent of US consumers said they look for a “Known retailer” when deciding what search results they click on.
They’re just talking about the big boys though, right?
Nope, a brand is as critical to a small business as it is to a big one. According to a survey conducted by Search Engine Land and SurveyMonkey, almost 70 percent of US consumers said they look for a “Known retailer” when deciding what search results they click on.
We have seen the results ourselves with local businesses. The clients we develop websites for that have strong local brand recognition always see more leads coming in from a website we have re-designed for them, than businesses without the brand recognition. And the results are generally immediate.
We redesigned the site for a local pool contractor that has big pictures of beautiful pools on the sides of all of their trucks. The website went live on a Wednesday morning, and he got his first form-fill from the site at two-thirty that same afternoon, they still come in at a rate of about one a day.
The same goes true for an HVAC company we work with in town. They are very active in the local chambers of commerce and have very recognizable trucks. They hired us to do an online campaign for them, and they got 100 phone calls in the first month alone. Brands matter for small business too.
So what is your branding?
According to small business marketing for dummies, a brand is a set of beliefs, it’s a promise customers believe, it’s what your company stands for. For a pest control company, it might be quality, honesty, environmental responsibility and friendliness. For a personal injury law firm, it might intelligence, toughness and a commitment fairness. Whatever the qualities are that define you as a business, that’s your brand. Your logo, color palette, photography, fonts, and voice (the style of writing business communications) is how you express that brand to your customers.
So it turns out you already have brand, how do you leverage it?
You need to work on developing visuals and a voice for your brand that are recognizable. That way, when potential customers see your brand, they get a sense of your company’s core beliefs.
Then make sure you’re showing off your brand as much as possible.
The pool company I mentioned above takes pride in the quality of their pools. What better way than to put big pictures of their beautiful pools on the sides of their vehicles? So great photography is likely a key element of your brand.
A good logo is critical to maintaining that familiarity with your brand because your customers remember colors and shapes as well as words.
Your color palette should be appropriate. In a nationwide survey, the two most popular flavors of donuts in the US were glazed and chocolate, then why isn’t the logo for America’s number one donut franchise brown?
Because pink and orange are sweet and flavorful, brown on the other hand… It is what it is.
Finally, the style of writing in your business communications connects with your customers, even if it’s just a headline.
So how does all that translate to clicks?
If 70% of people are going to click on a known brand in Search Engine Results, all of your great photography, your logo, your color palette, is what establishes your company’s brand in the mind of your potential customers. So they see it, they are familiar with it, and trust it over the other websites appearing in Search Engine Results.
According to a Nielsen Global Survey Sixty percent of consumers prefer to buy new products from a familiar brand. So now, not only does your brand get you the click, it makes it more likely for them to purchase from you.
And that’s the whole point isn’t it?