Branding Versus SEO
Branding versus search engine optimization is a marketing dilemma that larger companies will need to come to grips with on the Web. Often companies will need to decide whether to promote their own brand name as their main keyword expression or optimize for a more generic keyword expression.
For example, one online search engine report states that 1.3 million visitors per month look for the term “Best Buy.” This very same report states that the term “electronic devices” is searched for by 1.1 visitors each month. The obvious choice in this circumstance is for Best Buy to enhance for their own brand first and the word “electronics” second.
But, take a competitor such as Fry’s Electronics. Approximately 95,000 visitors search for the term “Fry’s” every month, far brief of those who browse for “electronics”. Does this mean Fry’s Electronic devices (a partner with Outpost.com) should enhance for “electronic devices” first and Fry’s (and/or Outpost.com) 2nd?
At this writing (August 2004), a search on Google for “electronic devices” will show that Finest Buy does disappoint up in the very first two pages. Fry’s (Outpost.com) is on the third page. But let’s take a further aim to see who remains in the number 1 position: Sony. And Samsung is a close second.
Sony, with 450,000 searches monthly for the word “sony”, has managed to grab the top spot for its brand and the generic word “electronic devices”. A search of the Sony homepage source code will reveal that this page is optimized for both words, “Sony” and “electronics.” By enhancing for both words Sony has grabbed a lot of traffic neglected by Best Buy and perhaps even surpasses Best Buys traffic in doing this.
Another problem in branding is hallmark infringement. Courts have actually upheld that sites utilizing another business’s branded name in its meta tags is taking part in hallmark violation. For example, a website about felines would be infringing if it put the name Best Buy in its meta tags in hopes of acquiring traffic from this trademarked word. Big companies need to protect themselves from others stealing traffic that is truly theirs. These companies can not however protect a generic term such as “electronics” as that is reasonable game for all electronic devices business.
So in order to produce the largest return on financial investment, large companies need to enhance their sites both for their own brand and for the generic, high-traffic keywords and keyword expressions appropriate to their websites. Otherwise, they are letting lots of online business just escape.
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