Building better Brand Signals to Improve Search Visibility

by Jason Acidre on March 20, 2013 · 31 comments · Content, Search, Social


Online branding has become a very important component of SEO over the years. Given that brand signals, as a search ranking factor, made it easier for search engines to determine a website’s authenticity and authority.

A study from SearchMetrics a year ago also somehow proves how top brands appear to have a ranking advantage, making it more obvious that search engines do favor strong brands on their search results.

Rand also discussed brand signals on a post he did back in 2011, which briefly explained the areas of a site that can be utilized by search engines to assess its brand power.

brand-vs-generic-signals

There are 2 sides to online brand development, in which the other side tackles activities happening off the site. And that’s what I’ll be discussing more in this post.

Search algorithms use several brand-based metrics in determining the strength of a brand’s web presence and importance (which I’ve also explained on a post I wrote 2 years ago on Technorati):

  • Brand mentions from other websites’ content (also based on the authority of the sites mentioning the brand).
  • Amount of branded-anchor text links directing to the site.
  • Volume of search queries for the brand.
  • Brand mentions from social networks.

Basically, the more quality signals coming from external sources that pertain to a brand, the more search engines will understand how important the brand is – and this can simply translate to better search visibility.

So how do you create more brand signals to your site?

Cultivate branded search

Brand keywords are known to drive better conversions, since the searchers are already aware and interested of what the brand is providing.

Mark Leech has explained this very well in a post he did last year on Zazzle Media’s blog:

 “brand keywords will drive the biggest share of traffic, conversion and click-through rate across your search marketing, whilst also delivering the best ROI and CPC/CPA. This is due to both lack of competition on your brand term and the high conversion/interaction propensity of a user searching for your brand”

There are ton of ways to increase the volume of brand searches to your site, and most methods involve real “marketing” initiatives.

Display ads and remarketing

Online advertisements can easily put the brand name out to its target audience, and helps strengthen brand recognition – which often leads to increase in brand-related searches.

For more tips, you can check out this comprehensive guide to remarketing.

Focusing content development on brand’s expertise

Consistently providing useful content about the solutions that your business is capable of providing will allow you to get better market mind share.

A brand’s content makes it easier for search engines to understand what they are about as well, and this allows the brand name to assimilate the industry terms that it’s somehow aiming to be searched for or be associated with.

brand keywords

The more you produce high-utility content about a particular niche in your industry (or the specific expertise you have), the more people will be directly searching for your brand.

Launching and promoting branded product lines

Branded products get reviewed, researched and searched almost always, especially if they offer real value to users and have been promoted well.

branded products

As Mark mentioned (noted above), branded searches tend to have higher conversion rates, and often can create longstanding positive effect to the brand.

Some of the commonly utilized methods by online marketers to promote branded products:

  • Display ads
  • User/experiential reviews
  • Affiliate programs
  • Guest blogging (Bufferapp has been very successful with this method)
  • Content marketing
  • Online PR

Content, Social and Link Building

Content is what drives a successful social and link development campaign. It’s also one of the elements that make a brand unique and incomparable to its competitors in the online space.

These 3 marketing practices are more efficient when they are integrated into a single approach, particularly when primarily intended to be used for improving online brand presence (not just for search).

Here are several content, social and link marketing activities that you can implement for brand building purposes.

Developing content assets

Build content assets that are evergreen and appeals to a large audience to enable your campaign to continually acquire social shares, brand mentions, links, traffic, leads and conversions.

An impressive example of this is Truck Classifieds’ Truckpocalypse:

truckpocalypse

Providing foundational content within your site can help ensure that your brand stays on your audience’s radar, as these brand assets have higher chances of performing well in terms of ranking for industry head terms based on usage and other signals that they can continuously acquire.

Content assets – such as interactive landing pages, free ebooks, extensive resources, etc… – are also easy to promote, seeing that these types of content offer high value information (making it worth sharing and linking to).

Inject real company stuff (#RCS) in your content marketing campaigns. It can tremendously help build a better perception for your brand.

Anyway, I’m planning to write more about this next week, on how to create content assets. But for now, you can check out SEER Interactive’s guide on how to identify RCS content (from your competitors and/or from your own site) for more tips.

Associating with larger publications

Become a regular contributor on larger publications in your space, because they have a lot of traffic (and they have the ones that you’re also targeting) and they have a lot of authority that they can pass through down back to your brand/site (in both branding and SEO perspective).

contributor

This tactic is a scalable way to continuously drive traffic, generate brand impressions, and build trusted signals that search engines can use to gauge your site’s importance and expertise.

Viral campaigns through social media

Investing on building content types that have high potentials of getting socially shared can help your brand be discovered, which is really good when it comes to getting new impressions, followers, readers and potential loyalists.

This is pretty much the same with developing content assets, though the only difference (I think) is the goal of the content.

Create something that appeals to social media users (specifically from or interested in your industry), and you can use several promotional methods to get the branded content out, such as linker outreach and paid social ads (you can check out this post for more tips on pushing your social content).

Building your social media follower base

Having social brand pages on different social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc…) is just the start. The key to make them a marketing arsenal and be one of your site’s biggest sources of branded signals is the activities that take place within those platforms.

Let your content drive your social activities. The more you create useful content (and the more people share them), the more interactions you can make, and definitely more signals they can send out.

Share stuff from others as well, particularly those that you think will be really useful to your followers. It’s also a great strategy in getting to your target influencers’ radars, and eventually in absorbing their followers as well.

Getting press coverage

If you are doing real marketing sh*t and if you’re really offering products/services/solutions that’s valuable, then getting press mentions for your brand is very viable.

One of the most known advantages of getting featured by a-list media sites is it boosts the authority that both people and search engines see about your brand.

as seen in

Here are 2 guides that you might want to check out if you want to try this brand building technique:

Combined branding efforts to get more co-citations/co-occurrence

Your content marketing, SEO, link building and social media campaigns help get your brand’s message out. And as these processes get you ton of marketing opportunities, it also allows your brand to get voluntary mentions/citations from other content publishers (using your brand as a reference).

Unlinked brand mentions from other website’s content that are in close proximity with relevant industry keywords will be more important in the near future. This type of citation is considerably a strong brand indicator that search engines will count and use as a factor in ranking your website.

no-link-mention

Consistency in implementing online marketing processes that are really driving results for your campaign is the key to be the go-to-brand in your niche/industry.

TL;DR

Strong brands can rank and compete for competitive search terms. They also have higher conversions, because they aim for their market’s trust. Brands can easily get links, shares and loyal followers, because they demonstrate authority.

Brands give and share great experiences. And that’s pretty much what SEO is about.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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