Is SEO Branding or Advertising? Here’s The Difference

Is SEO Branding or Advertising? Here’s The Difference

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October 23, 2023

Is SEO Branding or Advertising? Here’s The Difference

We’re gonna start this article with our old elementary school friend - The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 📖

Branding is "The promotion of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand."

Advertising is defined as "Calling something to the public's attention, especially by paid announcements."


Now, as dentistry's story-driven marketing agency, we know a lot about branding and advertising. But recently, someone asked us a question about these topics that made us stop and think.  🤔

Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) branding or advertising?  

Answering this important question is crucial because SEO can seem mysterious, and practice owners may hesitate to commit an SEO budget towards it without understanding its purpose for optimizing their website and digital presence. 

In this article, we'll explain why SEO is important for your practice's branding and advertising, and why search engine optimization is essential to include in your digital marketing plan. 

Defining SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing practice that boosts your website's organic search traffic from Google and other search engines. 

You can typically utilize four areas to boost your practice’s organic search rankings:

  • Keyword Targeting & Specific Content Creation

Create SEO-friendly content by using keywords your audience searches for. Make sure the content is engaging and helpful to users. 

  • Technical SEO 

Optimize your website's speed, usability, and mobile experience to make it easier for search engines and website crawlers to access. 

  • On-Site SEO

Everything on your website – from page navigation, titles, headings, image alt-texts, and more, makes your site easy to understand for web crawlers.

  • Off-Site SEO

All activities outside your website can enhance its visibility and credibility. It can include link-building strategies, guest blogging, Google Business Profile optimizations, etc.

SEO’s Role in Branding

As a dental practice, you can rank highly for "branded search terms" right away. 

Branded search terms are search queries that mention your brand or practice name. These are the low-hanging fruit in the SEO world, and we're their biggest fan because patients often search for branded search terms when they already know about your practice (i.e., in the patient journey funnel).

Example: If you have a dental practice called "BrightSmile Dental Care" or you are a dentist named "Dr. Smith," it would be ideal for potential patients to find your website and other materials when they search for "BrightSmile Dental Reviews" or "Who is Dr. Smith?" 

That’s why SEO is used as a branding tool to:

  • Increase Online Visibility: More people will find your brand when they want to learn more or make an appointment. 
  • Establish Authority: Build credibility by providing patients with resources to engage with and learn more about your brand. 
  • Improve User Experience: People who search for your brand will find positive organic search results and a direct path to your impressive website. 😎

How To Build Your Brand With SEO

SEO's effect on your brand is long-term. By dedicating time and effort, you can influence what patients find when searching for your practice on Google. This helps build trust and credibility for your brand. Here are a few steps to help you get started:

  1. Keyword Optimization: Improve your website content, meta descriptions, and URLs by including brand-specific and industry-related keywords.
  2. Utilize Schema and Open Graph Tags: Implement Schema markup to enrich search results with detailed information about your practice and use Open Graph tags to optimize how your content appears when shared on social media.
  3. Backlink Building: Gain credibility by building relationships with reputable industry websites through guest blogging or by being an informative reference to gain backlinks. 

How Does SEO Help with Advertising?

Now that we've made the case for SEO's purpose in long-term branding efforts, it's time to flip the switch and let you know that search engine optimization is also a great way to advertise your brand. Here's what we mean:  

  • Visibility Among Competitive Keywords: Your brand's reputation is built by branded search terms, but generic keywords like "dentist near me" or “teeth whitening services” play a crucial role in reaching new customers. These keywords cast a wide net for people who haven't heard of you (top of the funnel). Moreover, these are the terms your competitors are targeting, and being #1 is always a good thing.    

  • Local SEO for Localized Advertising: Local SEO increases your practice’s visibility to patients in your local vicinity. To improve your local SEO, focus on your Google Business Profile, getting local reviews, and creating content that appeals to your community. Think of it as your digital billboard for your local area!

  • Amplifying Paid Ad Performance: By understanding which organic keywords and landing pages perform best, you can refine your pay-per-click (PPC) strategies for better results. In addition, a solid organic presence can complement your paid ads and lead to even more brand credibility and trust. When potential patients see your brand both organically and through paid placements, it reinforces the legitimacy and authority of your practice, making them more likely to engage and convert.

SEO Is A Blend of Branding and Advertising

In conclusion, SEO is neither branding or advertising. It's a blend of both. While branding solidifies your practice's reputation and identity in the long run, advertising ensures a steady influx of new patients, making your practice thrive.

For dental practices looking to make a mark in the digital era, understanding and leveraging the dual nature of SEO should be at the top of the list. It's not just about being seen; it's about being remembered and chosen. Whether starting from scratch or trying to refine your existing SEO strategies, always remember that a strong digital presence is not just a luxury but a necessity. 🙏

Ready To Dive In?

If you're eager to delve deeper into the world of SEO or want to chat about aligning your digital strategies with your branding and advertising goals, reach out to us at Studio EightyEight. We're happy to help!

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