SEO? Brand Is Secondary!

Isn’t it all about brand? The more people know about your brand, the better it is. Ins’t it? Corporations take extra effort to protect their brand and image. So, does that mean it applies to you as well, a small business owner, just started off with a website?

Well, the answer is no. Trust me and I will explain why.

I had a small software product and I came up with a very unique and nice name for it. I created a website and optimized the page for my product name. Then, I went to a few blogs that are relevant to my product and offered valuable comments (don’t frown, yes, it’s kind of a spam, but when you promote your website only at the most relevant sites, it is useful to the blog owners as well) and used my product name, the brand, as the name of the commenter and the website url as the url of the commenter, naturally.

With this, I did end up getting a few visitors. Some even searched for the brand now and then. But what next? Beyond that occasional traffic that either came through those comments or searched the brand, there is no organic growth.

In the meanwhile, one good thing happened. The website’s pagerank moved from nothing to a whopping 3! (Yeah, I know, I know, it’s usually no big to reach to a 3 and moving beyond that is a big challenge).

Now, I do have a competitor. When I say competitor, you might immediately think another company that’s probably making a lot of money. Isn’t it? Funny thing is, this guys gives away his software for free. How can you beat the “free offer”? Well, luckily, for me, the product offers superior benefits. Nope, it’s not just me trying to do a sales pitch. Yes, that’s too. But the fact that I have real customers who tried out that “free offer” and moved to my product is a real testimony for my sales pitch.

I waited a few weeks and hoped that my website will eventually get me more traffic, especially with the newly updated pagerank 3. But it wasn’t happening. Then, I realized the mistake I made with my website.

If there are not many people who know about my product, and they don’t know my brand, how would they think of searching for it? I mean, those who grew up with viewsonic monitors may still not be aware that viewsonic offers lcd hdtvs. And you won’t search for what you don’t know. I know, search is all about discovering what you don’t know, I mean, if you know, why search right?

People search because they know what feature or functionality they want in a product, but not necessarily the product itself! Read this again and this is the key. It’s not your product name, it’s the product’s functionality that matters. Yes, it’s the product functionality that people keep searching. So, optimize your website for your product functionality or the services you offer. Not the name of your company or the name of the product.

After this realization, I went and made a few changes to my website, the most important being the title of the website. My product name no longer appears in the title! Instead, it contains the words related to my product functionality. Luckily, there are no other products in my niche except for this free product. But there are several blogs that talk about it. Currently I am positioned 3rd in SERP for the new keywords I optimized for based on the functionality. The first being the free offer and the second being a blog. As you know, Google keeps changing the SERPs a little so that the same website shows up 3rd or 4th sometimes or even lower. It happens for me as well. But first thing is, now I am getting traffic for the right set of keywords and it’s more targeted traffic. While I am yet to see conversions, I see people spending more time on the website. When this happens, you know it’s good. You know, you didn’t just try to trick a search engine. See, people are smart. You can trick a computer, however smart it’s algorithms are, but you can’t trick a real person. In a few seconds of glancing and gazing your website, people will runaway if your site is not really about the keywords you optimized for.

In the closing, I want to point out one thing. While the brand is secondary initially, once a critical mass is acquired, remember to start making the brand also prominent. Usually this may not be necessary, but if there are bigger bloggers and news papers write articles about your product, sometimes they might show up before you. Increasing the pagerank further is the best possible option at this time. So, here is the sequence of steps to follow which might take a few months to years.

  1. Create a website
  2. Write good content on the website. Optimize for the functionality and not brand.
  3. Promote it at a few free places (your own blog, comments on other blogs, free PR sites)
  4. Get traffic. Analyze the traffic. Make sure people are spending more time and even bookmarking for subsequent visits. If they are quickly running away, chances are you are trying to promote wrongly
  5. After a while, after making several sales and others start writing about your product or service, then try to increase your pagerank further.
  6. At this time, try to slowly start promoting the brand as well.

Good luck with the SEO effort!

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