Business owners often get carried away with ranking for precise non-brand terms. The harsh reality is this absolutely the wrong place to start. There is a ton of opportunity to get more organic traffic to your website simply by optimizing your brand.
Brand optimization is all about owning the first page in Google any time someone does a search on your brand name. Chances are your website (hopefully) already ranks #1 for your own brand term. But do you have additional brand presence in positions 2 through 10? What about a knowledge graph result? If the answer is no, then you need to start your SEO efforts by first optimizing your brand. Here are ways to do so.
Optimize Your Navigation
Your website undoubtedly has some sort of navigation structure but is it doing the most it can do for your website? Google looks to your navigation as well as internal links and page popularity to gauge which are the most important pages on your site. Based on this, they sometimes provide an enhanced search result for your website inclusive of sitelinks. See the Amazon search result below as an example:
Sitelinks are additional links to deeper pages that that appear under certain Google listings in order to help users navigate the site. They also take up more real estate on the first page in Google which gives you even more brand exposure. The challenge is you can’t request these. Google simply grants this enhanced search result based on its own criteria (which of course they don’t detail). We do know website structure, internal links and website size can influence sitelink display. Here are some optimizations business owners can do to help influence this type of result:
- Have a consistent top navigation throughout your website
- Use breadcrumbs
- Be consistent in the pages you link to and the anchor text used to link to pages
Register with Google My Business
All businesses should register their business details with Google My Business. It informs Google about important business details such as location, serviceable areas, contact info, business hours, etc. Google wants to know these details so they can show this information anytime someone performs a branded search. Google typically shows this information in a map result on the right side (also referred to the right rail) of Google’s search results. See the example below for Business Online Experts:
Local businesses don’t automatically get this extra listing in Google. You have to register your business and provide the pertinent details in order to receive it. Here are some tips on how to best optimize your Google My Business registration
- Fill out ALL requested details
- Select your business category carefully
- Claim your physical location/serviceable areas
- Use a local business number (if possible)
Use Structured Data Markup
Getting a location result in Google’s search results is definitely a big win for a business. But an even bigger win is getting a knowledge graph result. A knowledge graph result is an enhanced brand search result Google derives from semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources. Here is an example of a knowledge graph result combined with a location result:
Just like sitelinks, you cannot request a knowledge graph result. Google simply awards it. However, you can influence it. Here are ways you can influence a knowledge graph result:
- Use structured data markup on your website to clearly define the following business attributes:
- Contact Info
- Social Profiles
- Social profiles
- Create a Wikipedia page (if possible)
Create/Optimize Social Profiles
Your website isn’t the only web entity you control that can rank for your brand terms. Your social profiles can as well. Having optimized, connected and active social profiles can help own the first page in Google for your brand term. See the example below for a brand that has done it well:
Social profiles are a core component to owning the first page in Google for your brand terms. In order to do so, here’s what you need to do:
- Create branded social profiles (based on target markets)
- Link to your social profiles from your website
- Mark up your social channels using structured data
- Be active on your social channels
- NOTE: Google has a partnership with Twitter which amplifies its presence. So be sure to leverage Twitter.
As you can see, before focusing on non-brand terms, you need to optimize for your brand. It’s the best way to drive more engaged (and transactional) organic traffic to your site.