Complete guide to SEO for Brand Awareness

Looking to boost your higher education brand's visibility online? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is your answer. But with so many moving parts to an effective SEO strategy, where do you even begin?

In this article, we'll break down the essentials of SEO for brand awareness and provide practical tips to get you started. Whether you're a beginner or intermediate, we've got you covered with a full break down of all areas your strategy should be hitting.

Two quick tips:

A fully-loaded SEO strategy is basically multiple smaller strategies working together. Try to work on yours over time and focus on the most pressing aspects first.

Now would be a good time to quickly bookmark this page for future reference. OK - let's dive in and make your brand shine online.

Setting a goal:

Starting at the very beginning, we need to set a goal (or maybe a few goals) for your SEO strategy. It's OK to keep them broad at this stage. We just want to know which direction to go and what success will look like in the end.

For our purposes we would like to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Rank for owned search terms
  • Drive traffic to owned pages and/or channels

Credit: Justin Morgan

Keep reporting in mind:

Brand Awareness is considered (by some performance marketers) to be a soft metric. Meaning, it can be tough to tie a specific number or definite desired action to it. It can also have multiple interpretations and can be tricky to bring down to a ground level to report to management.

With that in mind we have constructed a strategy which both increases brand awareness and provides quantifiable results.

One more thing:

Google rarely puts more than two pages from the same sources in its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This means the more content your institution produces (around similar content areas) the more it will essentially be competing against itself. In order to stop this from happening it may be necessary to practice content consolidation where appropriate.

Content Consolidation

This will only apply to you if you already produce a high volume of content, but it is worth mentioning briefly for information.

Content consolidation is a powerful SEO tactic that involves merging or pruning duplicate or underperforming pages on your website. By streamlining your content, you can improve your site's overall relevance, authority, and visibility in search engine rankings.

For example, this article could have been several posts around different aspects of SEO but it will perform better as an overall, well-structred guide.

Areas of Interest

To increase brand awareness, maintain content efficiency and stay top of the SERPs, your SEO strategy should be operating in the following areas:

  1. Ranking for institution-related searches.
  2. Specific topic or keyword ranking (e.g., areas of research or study offer).
  3. Off-page results such as appearing on other relevant websites.

KPIs for Brand Awareness

While there are plenty of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) we could identify to determine the healthiness of SEO activities (CTR, Session Duration, CPC, etc.), there are a few specific ones showing the success of brand awareness specifically:

  1. Search Volume
  2. Search Visibility
  3. Keyword Ranking
Keyword Backlog for Words On Blog

Create a Keyword Backlog

Your keyword backlog is a list of search terms you want to rank for prioritised by relevance, keyword difficulty, or search volume.

This list of keywords you want to rank for should be an ever-evolving document. Over time you need to weed out the underperformers and iterate on successful keywords. This should be done on at least a bi-monthly basis. In the initial phases you will need to undertake the following tasks:

Build a keyword list

It is best to start with a comprehensive ‘seed list’ of keywords composed of keywords taken from our own observations, those of our competitors as well as keywords we know drive the most impressions/engagement on our owned channels.

We should then use the Google Keyword Planner to uncover more keywords in our target areas.

It is then important to structure the comprehensive list into categories such as ‘news’, ‘research’ and ‘evergreen’. This will make things easier for site structure and help SEO performance later.

Keyword implementation

While it is not necessary to go over every piece of content you have posted in the past and optimize, it would be wise to identify the most popular pieces of content and tweak them.

Areas to keep in mind are certainly the first 200 words of the article to satisfy search intent, and the structure of the article regarding H1, H2 and H3... headings. 

Evergreen Content Strategy

One of the most effective ways to raise your online profile through SEO is to prepare and optimize certain ‘evergreen’ content pieces satisfying user needs. These would typically be articles outside the regular news and research cycle.

These ever-popular pieces of ‘pull content’ would remain online as traffic generators. In order to gain a better understanding of how this type of content could work for you, there are a few fundamental points you should address:

Determine Student Journey

How do visitors to your website currently find and interact with our content? How engaged are they with information on our owned spaces and what are the actions they take there.

Identify Search Intent

Are you currently satisfying their search queries? Is the content currently being offered meeting their expectations or are there opportunities to improve.

Deliver on relevant topics

Once you know how visitors are arriving at your website, what they typically want to know about and their preferred actions, you can look into which evergreen content pieces this audience would respond to best.

By using a combination of Google Trends and website analytics you can effectively build up a few pieces of potential pull content to A/B test.

These content pieces should hit a sweet spot between having an achievable keyword ranking, being consistently searched for, and relevant to your target audience.

Backlinking Strategy

According to ahrefs, backlinks are among the top 3 factors for successful SERP ranking, yet 66% of pages don’t use them. The benefit here is the more backlinks your content includes, the more organic search traffic it will receive month-on-month.

A successful backlinking strategy will consist of a mix of internal and external links from your content to other reputable partners, as well as those partners reciprocating by including links to your content on their pages.

Effective backlinking takes time to establish but can be one of the most impactful activities you can undertake to improve brand awareness through SEO.

This recent blog post was is full of potential backlinks.

Creating a backlinking strategy for SEO

Backlinks are like votes of confidence from other websites. They tell search engines that your content is trustworthy and valuable, boosting your SEO efforts. In order to create the most effective backlinking strategy possible, consider the following:

Determine target audience and competitors:

The first step in creating a backlinking strategy is to identify your target audience and competitors. You will need to build a good picture of what kind of websites they visit. It would also be worth looking into any competitors and finding out where they are getting their backlinks from.

Identify high-quality websites for backlinking:

Once you have identified your target audience and competitors, the next step is to identify high-quality websites for backlinking. There are online tools you can use to identify websites with high domain authority, traffic, and relevant content. SEO blog Mention has a whole article on this, so be sure to take a look once you're finished here.

Create or select best content:

Before you start reaching out to websites for backlinking, you will need to create or identify pieces of content which you feel best represent your institution and your own SEO ambitions. This will help make a much clearer sell when you approach other websites for cooperation.

Reach out to websites for backlinking:

After you have created link-worthy content, the next step is to reach out to websites for backlinking. You can do this by sending personalised emails to website owners or editors, commenting on relevant blogs and forums, or submitting guest posts to high-quality websites.

Monitor backlinks:

Once you start getting backlinks, it is important to monitor them to ensure they are high-quality and relevant to your website. You can use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to monitor your backlinks and identify any low-quality or irrelevant links that could harm your website's SEO.

Update the backlinking strategy:

Finally, it is important to continuously update your backlinking strategy based on your website's performance and changes in the SEO landscape. This could involve finding new high-quality websites for backlinking, creating new link-worthy content, or adjusting your outreach strategy.


Implementing an ongoing SEO strategy cannot be handled by one person. You will need to make sure the relevant stakeholders are included in the conversation as early as possible. Consider splitting the work packages along the following lines:

Digital Marketing Manager: Implementation of the strategy and reporting.

Additional Marketing Staff: Looped in for information and implementation assistance.

Internal or External Writers: Assistance in structuring articles, creating for search intent and consolidations where needed.

Team Lead: Approval and keeping an overview.

Take Away

Developing an SEO strategy for brand awareness is essential for any higher education institution looking to stand out in the crowded online landscape. By leveraging the power of keyword research, content optimization, and link building, you can improve your website's search engine visibility and drive more traffic to your site. So, get started today and see the results for yourself!

Need help building your SEO strategy for brand awareness? Words On Brand are here to help.

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