An SEO campaign is essentially centered around keywords. It’s necessary to include specific keywords within your online content in order for that content to appear in the search results when those keywords or key phrases are typed into a search engine. Of course, the first step is to understand how target audience members are searching which is why keyword research needs to be conducted. You never want to assume how people are searching for what you have to offer.
There are two different types of keywords to pay attention to throughout an SEO campaign- branded keywords and non branded keywords. Branded keywords refer to search terms that include some variation of the business or brand name like “Brand XYZ”, “Brand XYZ services”, and “Brand XYZ information”. Non branded keywords are terms that describe what you offer like “finance software” or “accounting software”. People that search using a branded keyword are looking for your business specifically. People that search with a non branded keyword are looking for any business that provides what they are looking for.
For SEO purposes, the focus is on non branded keywords in order to bring in traffic from people that might not have yet heard of your business or brand. However, branded keywords should not be discounted. Clients sometimes wonder, “If all of our top entrance keywords are branded, does that mean that SEO isn’t working?” The answer is no. For many businesses the top keywords delivering traffic are always going to be branded. This isn’t a bad thing, it means that they have a strong brand and people are looking for them specifically. SEO should ideally only be one part of an overall marketing plan. Branded search terms mean that the business is being marketed well in other ways. Maybe a visitor saw an advertisement or a piece of direct mail which sent them to your website. Branded search terms validate all marketing efforts, including SEO.
SEO does contribute to branded search in an indirect way. SEO is much more than inserting keywords into website content today. It involves strong content marketing and social media elements which are all ways to promote the brand. Someone may see a piece of content or a social post that was created as part of an SEO campaign and remember the brand and search for it later.
Non branded search terms are primarily used during an SEO campaign but branded search terms should also be used, especially in today’s search environment. The search engines want to see a natural approach to SEO. Targeting the same keywords over and over again, and more specifically, using these same keywords as anchor text over and over again is going to get you into trouble. Instead of always using your one or two “money” keywords as anchor text, use the business or brand name as anchor text. This is really the most natural way to link since it mimics how a third party might link to your website.
When looking at entrance keywords, don’t get frustrated if the top keywords are all branded- it’s a good thing! Instead of comparing branded keywords to non branded keywords to measure SEO success, compare non branded keywords to non branded keywords over time. There should be an increase.