Most SEO strategies revolve around organic search rankings, geared toward potential customers who happen to be searching for what you’re selling, but are, as of yet, unfamiliar with your brand. But these strategies only apply to people who have never heard of your brand before – what about the people searching for products or services provided by your brand directly? How can you ensure that your website shows up in search results for branded search traffic?
Key Considerations for Branded Results
Even though users who include your brand name in their search are already familiar with your brand to some extent, the information present in a branded search engine results page (SERP) could affect their impression of you, and could affect how, why, and where they click.
There are a handful of key areas you’ll need to pay attention to:
- Your main site. You should have no problem ranking number one for your branded search terms, but how your site appears is moderately under your control. The key thing to watch here is your expanded sitelinks, the groupings of internal pages that appear indented below your homepage.
- Your Knowledge Graph entry. If your brand is deemed significant, you’ll probably get a Knowledge Graph entry with detailed information on your physical location (including reviews). You need this information to be positive and accurate.
- Subsequent results. Results below these items matter, too. You’ll want to fill these slots up with more positively branded pages and locations, such as links to your social media profiles and off-site articles that mention your brand favorably. I’ll delve into these topics below.
How to Earn Better Branded Results
Here are seven tactics to improve your brand’s visibility and reputation in branded search results:
1. Optimize your title tags and meta descriptions.
Your title tags and meta descriptions are the first things searchers see. Make sure they’re accurate, descriptive, and most importantly, compelling enough to encourage people to click the result. It’s also a good idea to include your brand name within your title tags to reinforce your brand name throughout search results. The format I typically recommend for title tags is as follows:
[Keyword or keyword phrase] | [brand name]
2. Aim for expanded sitelinks.
You don’t have full control over how expanded sitelinks appear – Google automatically decides whether they appear and which internal pages are featured based on your site’s authority, internal link structure, the quantity of branded search your brand has, and the specific nature of the user query. Still, you can maximize the chances of getting expanded sitelinks by ensuring your site navigation is clean, simple, and appears on each page of your site. More internal links to any particular page will improve the chances that that page appears in your expanded sitelinks.
3. Use structured markup to feed the Knowledge Graph.
Structured markup helps Google understand which bits of content on your site are most useful, and how that information should be categorized. If done properly, you can make sure Google has all the information it needs to make a thorough Knowledge Graph entry on your business (including your hours of operation and address). Your Google reviews will appear in this entry as well, but that warrants a separate optimization strategy.
4. Optimize your company reviews.
The type of reviews you receive has a significant impact on your searchers, so you’ll want to earn as many positive reviews as possible. Yelp has a way of seemingly appearing near the top of branded search results for just about every company, and Google My Business reviews are automatically displayed by Google in the right sidebar of Google search results, or as the first result on searches initiated from mobile devices. Encourage your customers to leave reviews for your brand, and if you end up with a bad review, see if you can work to make it right. Oftentimes, people will only check your average rating and the first couple of reviews they see, so every review counts!
5. Optimize your social media profiles.
Your social media profiles have a high chance of showing up beneath your main site in the SERPs—but only if your profiles are active, completely filled-out, and are linked to and from your website. Claim your business’s social profiles on as many different platforms as possible (At a minimum, make sure you claim Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), and include comprehensive information about your brand on each one.
6. Publish content that features your brand.
As a measure to fill in your remaining SERP entries, create more content that includes your brand name in the headline and publish it elsewhere. Press releases, news headlines, interviews, and guest blog articles are good examples of off-site content you can use for this purpose. These off-site branded articles will show up for branded searches.
7. Link to your most important assets.
Links are the interconnected highway that Google uses to evaluate page relationships online, so how you build them can significantly affect how your brand is displayed in search results. For example, strategically interlinking your most prominent internal pages could make them more likely to show up in your expanded sitelinks, and including more links to and from your off-site assets could give them a boost in rankings for branded queries as well.
Earning better branded search results is less about striving for a higher ranking (like most conventional forms of SEO) and more about making sure your users have as much information as possible, presented in a way that sheds positive light on your brand, while preventing negative results from creeping up the results page. Doing this doesn’t require much in the way of ongoing effort—in fact, most of these strategies can be knocked out as one-time projects. It’s well worth the effort if you want your brand to appear more authoritative, credible, and trustworthy, while earning more, higher-qualified traffic from branded search results.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.