5 Branding Tips to Improve Your Google Search Results
We all know that being found on the first page of Google search results is key to your business driving online leads and revenue. And while first page rankings get you in front of searchers’ eyes, it doesn’t guarantee quality traffic or sales.
Whether we like it or not, brand familiarity is an important factor in generating business. Think about your own purchase behavior. When you’re online looking for a product or service, are you more likely to buy from a brand that you’re familiar with? Think about your search engine behavior. When you Google a term, are you more likely to click on a result that’s associated with a familiar brand over one that’s not? In most cases the answer is yes… and search engines have figured that out.
Search Engines Reward Brand
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of junk on the Web and search engines know it. One of the biggest challenges search engines face is returning high quality results. And brand is one of the strongest signals in separating the wheat from the chaff. The stronger your brand is, the better you’ll perform in search results.
In a 2008, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, was quoted in Ad-Age,
“Brands are how you sort out the cesspool. Brand affinity is clearly hard wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.”
One of the most common frustrations I hear from small business owners, is feeling unequipped to compete against the big-box brands. And it’s true—in general, it’s much harder for a local small business to take market share away from the Walmarts of the world. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
How You Can Build a Brand That Search Engines Recognize
Remember, search engines use highly complex mathematical algorithms to determine which Websites to return in search results. That means, there’s an opportunity for your small business to influence that algorithm with the right tactics. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
1. Diversify your online marketing mix: One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses (both large and small) make is solely relying on Google for advertising and marketing. Use email marketing, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus as tools to build your brand. The more that people talk about you online and search for your brand, the more search engines will reward you.
2. Get links to your site from other trusted sites: One of the most important ranking factors in search engines are the links that point to your site from other sites. Get listed in trusted Web directories (e.g., Angie’s List, Yelp, etc…). Volunteer and/or get involved with your community. This will result in new links pointing to your site and send positive brand signals to search engines.
3. Google Publisher: This one is a bit techie and you might need a Webmaster’s help in implementation. A few years ago, Google introduced Publisher tag, a way for you to validate your Website with Google. It’s a simple snippet of code that goes in to the <head> section of your homepage’s HTML. Yes, I warned you—welcome to Geekville! Here’s a link to the full set of instructions on implementing the Google Publisher tag.
A quote from Google CEO, Eric Schmidt on the importance of verified ownership.
“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.” Source
4. Google Plus Online Reviews: An important ingredient in building your brand trust with Google is online reviews. Reviews on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp are great. However, Google does favor its own platform, Google Plus. Google Places for Business pages (which live in Google Plus) provide an area for people to leave online reviews.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews and reap the benefits.
5. Write helpful content: People tend to trust brands that publish helpful content. If you’re an auto mechanic, try providing a few helpful DIY tips for your customers. If you’re a personal trainer, a few videos of exercises people can do at home. The more people consider your brand a go-to resource, the more search engines will as well—and that’s great news for you.
The future is in your hands
I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with this last point. Don’t build your brand for Google, build it for your company and your customers. The stronger your brand is, the better it will do both online and off.