How Your Brand Can Kill Your SEO (search engine optimization)

Tug-of-war-brand-vs-seoThere is a silent war raging between brand guidelines and search terms. The most effected by this war are small and medium sized companies with low brand awareness. Many of these businesses are blindly following their brand guidelines when writing online. They use their coined phrases, clever tag lines and branded terms for online copy, headlines and keywords, all to their peril.  The problem is, few people outside the company’s four walls know and use branded terms when searching online.


The Case of Ruggo

Let’s take the example of a fictitious company called Ruggo. Ruggo is a new rug company based in Florida. They have one retail store and a website. As a small company their budget is tight and brand awareness is low. As part of their brand guidelines the marketing and sales team have been told they must always refer to the rugs as Ruggo. The word “rug” should never be mentioned. After all, buying rugs was so yesterday, today you buy a Ruggo! If you’ve been in marketing long enough you’ve heard this one before. But how does this standard branding practice translate online?


One of the keys to online marketing is SEO (search engine optimization). Part of SEO is having good keywords or phrases that a wide audience who is interested in your product/service will use in search engines such as Google. While it is true some people who discover Ruggo through their retail store and other means might search for the term Ruggo, it’s more likely that people searching online will look for the common term “rugs”. If Ruggo does not use “rugs” anywhere on their website, Google and other search engines have no choice but to exclude them from any results with the search term “rugs”. This is a giant disadvantage for a rug company!


Of course there is a simple solution, use the term “rug” throughout the website, in titles, and in content. Try phrases like, “Unlike other rug companies, Ruggo….” Or go back to the basics by using Ruggo as the descriptor rather than letting it define the category.  For example, “Ruggo Rugs are designed…” instead of “A Ruggo is design with….”


The moral to this story is to think about what you are trying to accomplish before laying down hard and fast rules. Brand guidelines are good and have their place, but they are only guidelines. When it comes to being found online let your SEO specialist help you determine the most effective keywords for your website. Don’t reduce your chances of being found by putting blinders on to how the rest of the world refers to your product or service.



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About Karin Khuhro

Karin Khuhro is a Digital Marketing Strategist, Speaker and Copywriter. As the owner of Strategy E-ssentials she works with other savvy marketers, digital specialists and business leaders to bring knowledge, know-how and solutions to small and medium sized businesses. Connect with Karin on Google+ or Linkedin.