“You’ll never get yourself off the treadmill of paid ads, if you don’t build your brand”
Someone on a Search Podcast, 2019
It’s very easy to dismiss online content, blogs, image assets and even display ads as pretty much useless – because you don’t have the instant gratification of seeing leads and/or sales.
This is completely understandable; especially if you have a background in sales – where your job has been to ‘finish off the lead’ and get a sale.
However, if you are in it for the long (or medium) run, then building your brand is a must. Whether you are a tradesman or a giant corporation, your brand’s reputation and the brand-awareness is your safety net when it comes to consistent website traffic, leads & sales.
It takes time to build a brand – but once it is built, those people who come to you direct because they know who you are – are effectively free – or at least very cheap in comparison to some of the cost per click of Google Search Ads these days.
Building a brand is not easy however. Take my other blog for example – Blackbeltwhitehat.com
The blog has over 600 pages of content, lots of it really long, in-depth and time-consuming to produce. The site has 5,000-10,000 visitors per month, but virtually nobody comes to my website via a branded search on Google.
This could be down to one specific reason – the domain name is crap and hard to remember.
I’ve bought a few more memorable domains (like WokeMMA.com “Woke” being an ironic term for self-awareness used in the MMA & Jiu Jitsu communities) and I am currently weighing up the time & effort of re-branding everything like GoogleMyBusiness, TrustPilot etc. – plus all my back-links currently point to blackbeltwhitehat.com (I’m aware of 301s etc. but I’ll still definitely see a drop in rankings).
My blog is ultimately a hobby that I’ve invested less than $50 into over 6 years. But if I had some more budget – I’d put together a plan to build my brand online…
How to Build a Brand Online
First make sure you know your target audience & do one of those SWOT analysis. Then make specific goals to establish some brand KPIs.
Here are some ideas on what to do next:
- Get a relevant, easy to remember domain name!
Learn from my mistake, a short catchy domain name is an easy-win if you are just starting out from scratch. A lot of the best and obvious domain name will be taken however, so you’ll have to do some research first. If you are just starting out, don’t name your business until you secure your domain name!
- Display Ads
Depending on your niche, you can set tiny max CPC bids in some instances – and they’ll still get thousands of impressions for very little spend. Gmail ads work particularly well for (potential) low CPM (cost per 1000 impressions).
Rotate your display ads’ design & colours to stop people ignoring them due to ‘banner blindness’.
- Blog & Outreach
Blog are great for reaching people who are researching a potential purchase.
For example, I landed on Perfect Keto’s blog a few times whilst researching Exogenous Ketones. Then ended up buying their branded product on Keto-pro.co.uk; because, for what ever reason, I trusted their brand.
Create great content, with statistics, images and video – and then outreach it – i.e. send it to relevant blogs and websites.
If you can afford it, use “PR-Level” outreach and contact national newspapers etc. This can be done via websites such as gorkana
If you content gets links too – then great – that’s good for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Doing some of your own exclusive research and generating tables of statistics are great for generating back-links naturally i.e. passively.
So consider doing some market research using Google surveys etc. These guys calculated RV/Campervan depreciation in value, just by looking at vehicles for sale online and get hundreds of back-links.
To turn blog’s into direct sales, you can also use relevant ‘CTA’ images below your blog.
For example, if you post a blog about the Walking Path’s of Snowdonia on your Snowdonia-based-bed-&-breakfast website; consider adding a relevant & clickable ‘book now’ and/or ‘get your free brochure’ button with eye-catching image at the bottom of the post. Many people now do this with newsletter sign up pop ups, which are a bit annoying but do work.
Before you start a blog, do your keyword research.
- Create Tools
Content is great – but tools tend to do better than copy. For example, NerdWallet’s top page in terms of organic traffic – is their mortgage calculator.
As well as brand awareness, you want some social-proofing of your brand. Start with a free account on Trustpilot and GoogleMyBusiness
- Video & Social Media
The number 1 mistake people make on social media is to harp on about their brand all the time. Be entertaining, provide useful information and insightful comments. If you are over-promotional, people will not follow you. Build some authority by providing helpful insights that your target market will appreciate.
Videos & podcasts can be costly in terms of time. If you don’t want to set up your own podcast, guest-appearance on other people’s podcasts can generate valuable awareness and also back-links to your website (important for Search Engine Optimisation/Rankings).
- Build an amazing product and/or service
This is your foundation and one of the reasons that Apple is so successful. An LSD-fueled Steve Jobs came up with some amazing ideas and concepts. The brand also turned itself into unique hybrid of tech & fashion thanks to their pioneering products.
The big, light-up apple on the back of Macbooks no doubt was a design aimed at building brand awareness too!
- Use Google’s search console to monitor your brand searches.
Please note – I realise this blog has a rubbish social media following. But that’s due to lack of time/money investment. I generally just use this blog as somewhere to record my thoughts & to remember how to do all things marketing related. E.g. here are my notes so I remember how to use Screaming Frog to scrape OG tags.
See my 2019 guide to Keyword Research by Clicking Here.