The sure way to win the SEO war: Name recognition

how to establish name recognition

Here’s a dirty little secret about search engine optimization: All smart business owners are doing it.

This means that as you’re trying to improve your SEO, your biggest competitors are doing the same thing. The competition for keywords is extraordinary (you probably know this already). This is why it’s important to work hard and discover some long-tail keywords where the competition isn’t quite so intense.

But even then, achieving an unqualified win via SEO is very, very difficult.

However, there is one search term on which you should be able to “kill it.” I’m talking about the name of your business. Let me use a major national brand as an example.

In the screenshot below are the top five organic search terms that get users to the CitiMortgage website:


Note that there are no generic search terms – like “home mortgage” – on that list. The Citi group, of course, has millions of dollars to spend on marketing and branding, but you will find the same thing to be true with successful local brands: People search for them by name.

If you’re Smith and Sons Locksmith in Anytown, USA, you don’t want to be caught fighting a cage match with all the other locksmiths for keywords like

  • Best locksmith anytown
  • Locksmiths in anytown
  • Anytown car locksmiths
  • Security system installers anytown

No, you want prospects to go straight to their computers or mobile devices and enter “Smith and Sons Locksmith.” That automatically puts you first in a Google search and – if you’ve claimed your Google local listing – brings up your hours, phone number, address, map, and customer reviews.

The challenge then becomes how to establish your name recognition throughout your community. When your business depends on local customers and clients, there are two general ways to accomplish this level of name recognition, or branding:

  • Paid advertisements, and
  • Aggressive public relations campaigns.

You should budget for both of these to the best of your financial ability!

Advertising can be anything from spots on the local radio stations to newspaper ads, to online geo-targeted ads. Frankly, for local businesses, getting your vehicles “wrapped” or renting billboard space can be extremely cost-effective ways to get your name in front of your potential customers. Finally, don’t overlook direct mail to the neighborhoods where your best prospects live.

For a successful local public relations campaign, always be on the lookout for a way to get your name in front of prospects. Sponsor a local youth soccer team. Set up a stand at street fairs. Send press releases to all the local media whenever you do something noteworthy, such as sponsor a scholarship. Hand out business cards with a special offer on the back. Hold local seminars and share your expertise. Going back to my locksmith example, a business like that might teach people how to conduct a home security “checkup.” Enter contests and publicize the awards you win.

Whether you call this name recognition, brand recognition, or brand name recognition, it’s very valuable to your business. When you can get people to search directly for your small business, you have truly put yourself in a position to be the leader in your local community.