SEO 2018 – RankBrain and the Return of the Mad Men

“SEO is too important to be left to the SEO department.” – Adapted from David Packard’s legendary quote about Marketing,

We know that page speed, dwell time, SERP click-through rate are all important factors for SEO in 2018. Backlinks are still very important and Technical SEO is also essential.

So, why are Brand Marketers invading our SEO space?

Well, Google’s move from a static algorithm to the Artificial Intelligence system called RankBrain has changed the SEO game in 2018.

For instance, if more people start searching for your brand then Google will take notice. This takes marketing full circle and is causing the “old school” ad men and women to walk with a little extra spring in their step.
They are back in the game folks and the SEO team has brought them back.

Artificial Intelligence will bring Marketing back to the 1960s

The AI system is constantly learning. So unlike in the past, when SEO involved trying to work out a static ranking algorithm by running tests and listening to the grains of information Google might release, AI cannot be figured out in that manner (over the medium to long-term).

However, this is not bad news. It’s actually great news because focusing on core marketing principles to make your customer happy will improve the ranking signals RankBrain is looking at.

So, user experience, customer service, fulfilling promises, having an identity that customers want to be a part of, a good engaging website and quality information that helps people, are now core SEO principles.

Telling people about the above so they will visit your site in droves is now also a core SEO principle.
This has scared many SEOs because they never had to worry about branding to the same extent before.

SEO by definition is probably the most extreme form of direct response (Below The Line) marketing that there is.
Now, SEOs have to do Branding!

It’s like Luke Skywalker turning to the Darkside.

As a result, to be successful with SEO in 2018 you must take a multidisciplinary approach. Branding is the area that in many ways has been dormant for the last number of years.

Algorithmic bidding tools, remarketing and behaviour based targeting have replaced solid brand strategies in many companies.

Now businesses must think seriously about branding and their approach to “outbound” or “ATL” marketing.

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” – Henry Ford

That quote from Henry Ford is probably more accurate now than when he made it considering the effects of branding on SEO in 2018.

Brand Awareness, Above the Line Advertising and SEO 2018

Successful ATL campaigns should help SEO as follows:

  1. More Brand Searches
  2. Higher Conversion Rate
  3. Higher CTR on Generic Searches
  4. Increased likelihood that your content is taken seriously and linked to.
  5. PR exposure is easier to get because they have “heard of you.”

Get a Quick Understanding of Your Brand.

Use Google Trends to get a  top-level view of how your brand is performing when compared to your competitors.
For a more granular view use the Keyword Planner tool in your Google Ads account.


As an SEO you should work with your brand/ATL team the same way you are probably working with your content team now.  You should invite them to your SEO meetings.

As a CMO you need to integrate your SEO, UX, Content and Branding (ATL) teams. The synergy here will breed success.

Ultimately, work together on the important ranking factors.

What We Have Done

As a result of the increasing importance of Brand on SEO. We now offer a full marketing audit, appraisal and strategy plan. This goes beyond the standard Technical SEO audit to include ATL performance.

It helps you join up your direct response and branding campaigns to achieve improved performance across the board.

If you want to have a chat drop us a line below: