I’m going to outline current beliefs on how brands affect SEO , and how to improve your brand in a way that will effect your rankings. Keep in mind this is a new and emerging aspect of SEO. Most of this is theoretical and based of off general statements from Google and SEO experts. But before we get too deep, a bit of history is needed.
Since 2008, Google has been developing search results that delivers better information on brands. In a now, over-quoted statement, CEO Eric Schmidt said: “Brands are the solution, not the problem … Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”
Around March 2009, Google’s update, called the “Vince” update, seemed to favor the big brands. We saw brands that were well known suddenly jump out of obscurity and into search engine lime light. At the end of 2009, personalized results became universal, whether you were signed in or not (I’ll explain how this effects brands later). Around April of 2010, we saw Google experimenting with displaying brands in search results. In December of 2010, it was announced that Social Media is also now being used as a ranking factor in search results (again, I’ll explain this in a bit).
Some of these changes are still noticeable today, some are less prominent or gone altogether. Regardless, you can see that Google has been trying to perfect their rankings of brands over the past several years, and there are no signs of stopping.
Clearly, no one is going to argue with branding being a critical part of any marketing campaign. Nevertheless, it does seem to get forgotten sometimes when I discuss SEO as part of that marketing plan with clients. If you want a lot of success in SEO, brands will eventually play a part. For example, let’s talk for a minute about personalized results. A part of the intent of this change was to help display brands that you recognized and clicked on more often at the top of the search results. In other words, if your visitors recognize your site, and click on it more often then other sites, you will be displayed higher in search results for those visitors. Sounds like a branding push to me.
OK, here is the meat that some of you were probably looking for. Again, I have to put my disclaimer here. These are not concrete measurements that are definitely used by search engines, but best guesses based on expert opinions:
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Here are some ideas on how to implement some of the above principles, or to just advance your brand in general.
Here is the final word: Brands have been on the radar at Google for a long time. Experts are starting to see more of a push towards this metric and expect for it to become a more prominent ranking factor in the near future. It’s best to pay attention and, even better, make branding an integral part of your online strategy.
Have other ideas? I’d love to hear them! Post them in the comments below.
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