Are you looking to improve search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine ranking for your business? Here’s a conversation we’ve had with certain companies who are on the hunt but lack a strong brand architecture:
Client: “Can you help us with our SEO? We need more visitors to our site.”
Vital: “Sure, but first your site needs more visitors… then we can work on SEO.”
Client: “Wait, what? More visitors first…? That’s why we came to you!”
We admit, at first blush, our reply does sound backwards—paradoxical, really. But for a client with weak brand architecture, this is the best advice Vital can serve up first because we’re looking at the bigger picture.
SEO is a complex, ongoing process. Before you dive in, it’s crucial that all your ducks are in neat little row—and a major part of this organization should start by evaluating and responding to any existing brand architecture and website architecture issues. This approach is not only a best practice, but it can lead to more immediate increases in your website traffic and search engine results (total score!).
Here’s the full story of why your traffic might be a trickle and not the waterfall it could be, as well as the strategy you may need to begin ushering in the crowds today.
Google Penalizes Weak Brand Architecture
Google loves traffic, content, and links—roughly in that order. These key metrics are used in part to calculate a site’s ranking (#1 in a Google search vs. #357, or something equally cruddy). But when a company has many sub-brands and subsequently sub-websites, existing SEO efforts can be marginalized and it can become difficult to muster much traction in Google’s rankings. When this happens, it is referred to as weak brand architecture.
Weak brand architecture is nothing more than the unintentional byproduct of a good thing: a company grows quickly, acquiring brands and adding services, but neglects how these new sub-brands will jive alongside each other and how consumers will recognize and interact with them. Though an innocent oversight, each added brand hereafter appears detached from its parent company. When this happens, the overall brand equity suffers for two reasons:
- Consumer experiences are disconnected
- There is no scalable solution for future gains
When a parent company has any number of dissociated websites in their portfolio, their digital (online) presence can also become fragmented. Google cannot compute this. So, no matter how terrifically awesome each site individually is, Google isn’t valuing them collectively or in the favor of the parent company. In the end, when a parent brand isn’t reaping the returns it should be, upward movement in the search rankings is stymied (wah-wah).
Try to look at Google as you would a consumer, or a consumer advocate—and this is really how Google sees itself anyway. Google tries as best it can to support sites where it feels user experience will be the most informative and consistent across the board. If your company wants as much credit as possible, don’t divide holdings or allow a search engine to underestimate the scope of your worth. Instead, tie your brands together to make the greatest equity. You own all these sites, don’t you? Flaunt your flock!
Fixing Weak Brand Architecture—Consolidate, Consolidate, Consolidate
In a traditional (non digital-based) brand architecture challenge, a remedy often lies in logo treatments, tagline or slogan tweaks, or similar arbitrations designed to connect—subtly or obviously—a parent brand to its sub-brands. For a good example of this, take a look at our mini case study on Key Auto Group in Building Brand Value: Why You Need a Brand Architecture Strategy.
But to exponentially grow the value of your traffic, content, and links online, you need to correct your piecemealed approach where sub-brands live under different domains.
To do so, Vital recommends consolidating all holdings under a single URL because Google counts everything per site—visits, links, content volume or otherwise. So, the more sites you divide your audiences between, the weaker you rank in search engines, the slower you ascend, and the less effective your other SEO strategies become. On the flip side, the more streamlined and logical your online presence can be, the more clout you’ll likely garner.
Here’s a very simplified way to imagine it:
If you have three sites each with 10 pages of content, 10 links, and 100 visitors per day, you are missing an opportunity to capture 30 pages of content, 30 links, and 300 visitors per day with just one site—and how could Google not love a 300% uptick in three key metrics?!
This is exactly the point. Google will reward you for being so bold. Your focus will also be, well, more focused. And the SEO road ahead will be paved in gold, so to speak.