09/25/2012 02:02 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

5 Easy Steps to Build Your Online Brand

These days, "branding" is one of the biggest buzzwords floating around world of natural search -- and for good reason!

Developing a consistent, cohesive brand for your company or website offers significant advantages from both a customer experience and a search engine optimization standpoint. On the customer side, when you invest in developing your brand, you increase the trust level that exists between you and your website visitors. This, in turn, leads to a better on-site experience and increased referral traffic.

At the same time, recent shifts in the Google ranking algorithms have placed an increased premium on known brands when determining which results to display in the search results listings. From the perspective of the search engines, this makes sense, as search users are more likely to trust and click on branded results than on unknown listings. Because the search engines have a vested interest in providing the result people want (as more users results in more ad revenue), I believe they'll continue to prioritize branded signals now and in the future.

So, how can you capture the benefits of strong branded signals across your web presence? Consider taking all of the following steps:

Step #1 - Define your branded elements

In order to be taken seriously as a brand, you've got to have certain elements in place. Generally, brands are differentiated by their:

• Logos
• Color palettes
• Slogans
• Catch phrases
• Commonly used terminology

If you haven't yet developed each of these elements for your brand, take the time to do so before moving forward with the following steps in this process.

Step #2 - Develop your online presence across multiple channels

Now that you've got your branded elements in place, it's time to put them out there into the world!

In addition to updating your website to remain consistent with the colors, graphics and messages you've chosen for your company, you'll want to incorporate these items into your social networking profiles. For maximum branded presence, you should have pages or profiles set up on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and any other social media site your target audience frequents.

Step #3 - Use branded messages consistently

As you're adding branded elements to your website and building out your presence on popular social media platforms, remember to be consistent. Visitors will be more likely to remember your brand if you've used the same elements across all of your different web properties.

This will become especially important when it comes to building search volume for your branded keywords. Though most SEOs focus on traditional keyword phrases (for example, words like "women's shoes" or "cheap digital cameras") getting search users to input keyword phrases that include your branded terms into the search engines can be a great way to earn natural search traffic, as you'll face little competition on these results pages.

Step #4 - Guest post to promote your brand

Another way to get the word out about your brand is to guest post on other industry blogs. Guest posting is a great way to build backlinks, but it's also a powerful method for building your perceived authority. Depending on the caliber of blog you're able to post to, readers will see your post as a tacit recommendation by the site's owner, allowing some of his or her industry authority to rub off on you.

The most effective way to build your brand via guest posting is to schedule several different articles to launch around the same time. Although this does take more work in terms of coordinating with blog authors and writing more articles all at once, the pay-off will be the perception that you're "everywhere at once," leading readers to believe that your brand is bigger than it really is.

Step #5 - Seek media mentions

Finally, one surefire way to boost your brand's profile -- both with your audience and with the search engines -- is to seek media mentions. Simply scoring one mention in a high-profile publication can do more for your brand than dozens of guest articles!

The easiest way to attract this type of attention is to sign up with services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Participating in these services will add your name, contact information and areas of expertise into a database that's made available to journalists and reporters. Then, when these professionals need expert sources for their stories, they can contact you directly for quotes and information.

While this may all seem like a lot of effort, taking the initiative to build you brand will likely pay dividends down the road in terms of better SEO, better customer experiences and a better ROI for your overall marketing budget.