It’s strange, in a world increasingly dominated by search marketing, that I should find myself suggesting that we all need to look harder at branding. But it’s becoming a sensible strategy, because Google loves brands. You’ll find that associating your company’s name with the products you sell can have a positive impact on search engine rankings.
It’s an effect which has been seen in the consumer market (where brands are obviously bigger), but one which is reaching down into technical sectors too. You may have seen pages ranking well from larger companies which aren’t nearly as “on target” as your own efforts, and wondered why they do so well, so effortlessly. The reason is that just like a customer, when Google thinks “widgets”, it thinks of the Blue Widget Company. And why not? The stated aim of the search engine is to provide the results which a human would.
So, how do we associate our brand more strongly with a product type? The consensus seems to be that you need to put yourself in Google’s shoes. For a start, it knows what a brand name is. That’s easy: there are all sorts of signals, such as trademark symbols and simply the fact that the brand name probably isn’t in the dictionary. So, for a given brand name, it would then need to start associating that term with technology areas and product types. The converse (and the bit we’re interested in) is that eventually it starts associating those product types with the specific brand name. In other words, the Google algorithm thinks: “Hmmm, somebody’s just searched for widgets …the first place I need to look is The Blue Widget Company’s website”.
What we have to do is not dissimilar to the way in which we’d perform branding exercises with real customers. The object is to inextricably link a brand name with the product type. We try to repeat, in as many places as we can afford, the brand name plus product type combination. Great branding constantly says “The Blue Widget Company sells Widgets”. (Conversely, poor branding just says something like “The Blue Widget Company – Your Complete Systems Solution Provider”).
It’s the same with associating our brand/product for Google, except that we need to concentrate on the online opportunities rather than carrier bags and magazine front covers. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) is a good place to start repeating the associations. Dropping your brand name on pages which are clearly focusing on the product in question (forums, blog comments, etc) will also be effective. Most of all, make sure your website gives off all the right signals. Google will respond.