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Is branding or SEO more important?

April 29, 2024 | Branding and Rebranding, SEO and Content Marketing, Website Design and Redesign

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Faced with limited resources and a need to prioritize marketing efforts, many business owners may be wondering if they should focus on branding or SEO more. But why one or the other? Some may think that branding and SEO oppose each other – that focusing on branding can hurt SEO rankings, or that following SEO best practices leads to lackluster branding.

Read on to learn about how SEO and branding differ, how they can actually work together to achieve the same goals, and how to know when it’s time to invest more in either strategy. 

What are the main goals of SEO? 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a set of strategies with the goal of increasing organic traffic to a website. 

SEO strategies can include the strategic use of keywords that your target audience is searching for, in the hopes of ranking highly for those keywords. Often this means creating or optimizing content. 

There are also technical strategies to SEO, like optimizing site speed, and ensuring that your content is tagged correctly. 

Google looks at both the authority of a website and the relevance of content when deciding on rankings. Google measures authority by how many websites link to your websites. At its core, authority is about how well known your brand is, because Google understands that we trust established sources. 

SEO strategies are heavy on data and look for long-term, gradual growth. 

What are the main goals of branding? 

Branding is the active process of creatively shaping your brand to establish trust and recognizability

This includes how your visuals and messaging work together to demonstrate the unique value your brand brings to the market and attract your target audience. 

Branding activities include the naming of a business, creating a logo and website, making creative decisions like what are the brand’s colors and fonts. In addition, branding includes your messaging and voice and making decisions on how you talk to your audience.   

Branding projects require a lot of creativity and the results are often used for many years. 

How branding and SEO are different 

Branding is about using creative assets, and SEO looks at data and numbers. Because of this, people often assume that branding and SEO work at odds with each other. 

This stems from a larger misconception that conforming to strategy and data stifles creative pursuits. In truth, creative people often thrive with limitations on what they can create.

The tension between SEO and branding does require some thought when creating a website.

Some websites may have a problem with “overbranding”. Every product name is so creative and vague that people have a hard time finding that brand’s products by searching for what they are looking for. Other websites prioritize highly designed video or graphic elements that cannot be indexed for keywords and may slow the website down, actively harming their SEO rankings. 

On the other hand, over optimization to improve SEO rankings can result in a boring, unmemorable website, which can seriously harm branding efforts. Over optimizing can include forcing keywords where they don’t belong, or creating content that has a good chance of ranking for a keyword but isn’t useful for the audience. 

Given the above example, it’s not surprising that many people think that SEO and branding clash with each other. The trick is to balance the two. 

You don’t have to choose between branding or SEO 

You don’t need to choose between branding or SEO because you should ideally be doing a balance of both. 

When done correctly, SEO and branding work together. 

When done right, branding helps build website authority, which in turn improves SEO. Good branding means that more people will recognize and trust your brand. In turn, you’ll have more people linking to your site. Good branding increases trust and establishes your brand as a useful answer to a problem, which means people will likely access your website more often. Given that the ultimate goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic, branding helps achieve this goal. 

Some brands don’t have great brand name recognition. As a result, not a lot of people are searching for their brand name. SEO strategies can improve branded search results, which helps establish the brand as a leader in their field. 

That may seem like circular logic, but that’s exactly the point. Branding can improve SEO which in turn can bolster branding efforts. This only works if you invest in both branding and SEO. If you completely ignore branding, your SEO efforts will harm your brand. And if you completely ignore branding, you won’t see a lot of SEO improvement. 

If you have limited resources, this may not seem like great news. After all, you can’t do everything at once. Luckily, you don’t have to give 100% to branding and SEO. 

Should you invest more in branding or SEO? 

A good website design or redesign involves a healthy balance of branding and SEO. A well designed and developed website will give you a solid SEO foundation. Good branding will help build your trust and authority. 

But there may be times where you want to devote more resources to one strategy over the other. 

Every website project should have goals, and these goals will determine which strategy you devote more resources to, or if you devote equal resources to SEO and branding. 

If you’ve identified that your target audience is most likely to find you via search results, you may want to devote more resources to SEO, to ensure your audience can easily find you. 

On the other hand, if your brand is new and not well established, you may want to focus more on building a comprehensive brand strategy. 

Branding and SEO work together to help increase your website’s visibility and build brand trust and recognition. If you’re looking for a comprehensive website design or redesign that incorporates award-winning design and SEO strategy, let’s talk

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