In most cases, SEO will focus on getting a website to rank for generic keywords that are relevant to the company’s products or services. However, often the most relevant keyword of all – the company’s brand name – is overlooked.
All too frequently SEO practitioners only perform a cursory check to see if a company website ranks for its own brand name. Does a branded search deliver the website as the first result? Yes? Tick that checkbox and move on.
Sometimes however, that can be too hasty a box to tick. Claiming the top spot for your own brand name isn’t always sufficient to claim all branded search traffic, especially if there is content out there on the wider web that could negatively impact public perception of your company.
It pays to make sure that you claim the entire first page of search results for your brand name, ensuring your official corporate presence is the only thing searchers see when they type your company name in to Google or other search engines.
How can you dominate your branded search result to this extent? It’s not particularly difficult:
1. Website with Sitelinks
Of course you want the very first result on your brand name to be your own company website. This will be the case in most instances, however; sometimes you’ll need to work a bit at claiming that top spot, especially if your brand name is a generic phrase instead of a unique name.
This can be accomplished through the usual SEO methods; ensure your website can be fully crawled and indexed, acquire a healthy amount of links with branded anchor text pointing to the site, and try to get plenty of online brand citations.
Whilst cheap directory links are often harmful to a website nowadays, for branded search it’s worth investing in placements on some of the remaining trustworthy online directories such as Yelp and Thomson Local.
Getting a block of sitelinks as part of your branded SERP is harder to do, as it relies mostly on Google properly interpreting the search as a brand name search, and its ability to make sense of your website’s structure. A solid information architecture is required so that Google understands your site’s hierarchy and can show relevant sitelinks.
2. Social Profiles
The second thing to do is ensure your company has active accounts on all major social media sites. Due to the inherent online authority that most social media platforms enjoy, having a publicly viewable social profile on the main sites – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc – you are almost guaranteed to have several of these rank on the first page of search results for your brand name.
On top of that, when you include your website URL in these social profiles, this will also contribute to your website claiming the top result for your branded search result.
A Google+ Local page can be especially useful in this regard, as often you can get a knowledge-graph-like box on the right-hand side of the search results page, which is filled with information from your company’s Google+ presence:
3. Multimedia Content
Google likes to include elements from vertical search, like videos and images, in their main search results. To ensure your brand name claims all available space on search results pages, it’s worth investing in multimedia content to publish online.
For example, you could feature a set of YouTube videos about your company, ensuring these are optimized for your brand name. You could also have a number of images of your company logo and premises available for free use on sites like Flickr and Photobucket, again optimized for visibility on your brand name.
That way if Google decides to include multimedia elements in your branded search result, chances are it’ll be your own content that is displayed and not a competitor’s. This is especially useful if your brand name is also a generic phrase, and Google is more likely to include universal search elements.
Own Your Brand Space
Never take a branded search result for granted. You should periodically check on your branded SERPs and make sure your company claims all the available spaces on the first page, and ideally a majority on the second page, as well.
Branded search dominance ensures that you claim all branded searches for yourself, and also mitigates the risks of bad publicity ruining your online brand. With total brand dominance in Google, chances are no one will ever see a negative mention of your brand unless they specifically go looking for it.
About the Author
With over a decade of experience in SEO and digital marketing, Barry Adams is a leading SEO consultant based in Belfast, serving a wide range of clients throughout Europe. Barry is a regular speaker at digital conferences such as SMX, Friends of Search, and SAScon, and lectures on SEO and digital marketing for the University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Digital Marketing Institute. He is an editor and contributor for State of Digital and regularly blogs about SEO on his own website which was shortlisted for Best Blog at the 2013 UK Search Awards.
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