Brand specialists and SEO people don’t always mix well. The first group tends to be most interested in the forest; the other in the trees (sometimes even the lichen on the trees). But there are certain places where their interests connect. One is keywords.
Every SEO will ramble on about the importance of keywords to search. They are, of course, the very foundation of search. One of the first pieces of business for any SEO effort is to develop a set of keywords, which find their way into content, links, page titles, and maybe into keyword marketing. These keywords come from brainstorming and lots of research. (If you are interested, here are a couple decent articles about developing keyword lists: one from Associated Content and one from Bruce Clay.)
Since you can’t build a brand without achieving some level of visibility, and it’s difficult to achieve visibility these days without appearing in the appropriate web search, shouldn’t your keywords relate to your brand, and vice versa?
Lately, we have begun developing a primary keyword list as part of Brand Development. What this does is establish potential search patterns that relate directly to our brand characteristics, as we want them to be. Theoretically, this should also mean the people who search and find the brand are the ones who should really be interested in it, i.e. the best prospects.
Of course, the list generated as part of the Brand Development process still has to be researched and amended. Ultimately, it will also evolve as keywords in use are analysed for effectiveness and improved. That’s when it’s a good idea to bring the updated keywords back to the Brand Story and ask the question: Is our brand aligned with what people are really thinking about us, as reflected in how they search?
If the answer is “no, not so much,” maybe it’s time to revisit your Brand Story. I’m not suggesting your brand should follow your key words slavishly, or vice versa. I’m just saying it makes sense, in world where decision making about your brand is driven to a large degree by search, for you to make your brand as accessible as possible to your customers’ searches. Likewise, if it appears your customers are searching for a brand with different attributes than yours, maybe you need to fix that.
It’s time to close the loop.