It's a well-known fact that people gravitate towards things familiar to them. We tend to like people who have the values, upbringing, or preferences we do. The same is true for products—people will patronize brands that they see often. In the past, only big companies could influence how people perceive their business. Today, though, digital marketing makes this attainable for smaller brands.
Take, for instance, brand-driven search. Also known as branded search, this process involves much more than getting URLs to rank for a brand name. It includes search queries related to the brand, like the CEO's name or keywords containing it.
This type of search is vital for several reasons. First, it is necessary to understand online sentiments about your brand. It also shows customers' issues about your product or site—branded search is usually high-intent, and people who search for these keywords are looking for something specific about your business.
Like branded hashtags, branded results pages don't belong to the business or company they name. Unless you make a concerted effort to optimize for particular keywords, what people see in your SERPs is beyond your control. Still, since they contain your business name, you should know what appears on these pages.
Prioritize your brand-driven Google suggestions because these indicate the keywords people directly associate with your brand. Google relies on search frequency, so the more people look for a phrase, the higher it shows up in suggestions.
Google suggestions are also likely to affect whether or not a customer ends up buying from you. For example, suppose the customer types your brand name on their device to go to your site. However, instead of suggestions related to your brand, Google displays "alternatives" to you—that is, your competitors' brand names.
According to a recent Backlinko study that analyzed 1,801 user behavior sessions, searchers click on Google suggestions 23 percent of the time. It means approximately a quarter of people who already know you could end up visiting other brands' sites, despite having keyed in your brand name for the search!
These Google suggestions can significantly affect buyers' decisions, even when they aren't searching for a product or service. This situation presents brands with a search marketing gap they cannot address. There's no way to control the suggestions which show up when people type your name on search bars.
If you have thousands of people working for you, it could be possible to change Google's autocomplete results into keywords you prefer, but that's not guaranteed—and it probably won't last. You could also attempt to create viral content around your new products. However, as soon as people stop searching for that piece, your keywords will disappear again.
Whether you like it or not, though, you have to monitor your branded search results. Fortunately, you can do certain things to help you stay on top of things.
First, you should know your branded questions. Organic search tends to feature more content centered on questions. It's because they bring up featured snippets. Google also has a dedicated "People Also Ask" section, so it's good to be aware of what questions come up about your brand. Although you can't remove these, you can respond to them in your content.
Also, use questions as subheads in your blogs, videos, and other content. Questions compel people to read more—they are more inviting than statements.
You also need to identify your current position. The more of the SERP you control, the better you'll be at creating a consistent brand. Optimizing your brand's visibility through branded SERPs involves more than producing well-written blogs. For starters, you have to develop optimized videos (for YouTube and other video platforms) and images (for Instagram and Pinterest). Re-packaging your content—turning blog posts into webinars, eBooks into podcasts, and the like—could also ease you into more spots on SERPs.
Consider as well having long-form content outside your blog. Create pieces exclusively for Medium, LinkedIn, or other platforms. You don't want people to click through several media properties and see the same topic discussed in five different ways. Varying your content mix should help you engage with a broader audience without alienating your core market, and it shows Google that your brand isn't confined to a small area of the internet.
Finally, optimize for Google's rich snippets. Brand-owned search snippets are valuable to your search marketing strategy. Consider adding an FAQ schema for pages that answer multiple questions, a HowTo for step-by-step guides, and a Video schema if you have it embedded.
An additional measure you could take is to inform other departments of branded search results. For example, a sports watch company's marketing team might give their product development and usability researchers a heads up if the phrase "Why doesn't [sport watch] update" keeps appearing in SERPs.
Besides monitoring and responding to different aspects of your branded SERPs, you need a plan for linking your assets. This is especially true if you're doing a lot of off-page SEO. Start by linking your website to third-party assets. You can put links to your other channels on your About page or have a dedicated static page for outside resources. If you produce video content, put links to your website in the video descriptions.
Linking different channels and platforms together can be a daunting task, but it is possible with the right off-page optimization strategy.
There are many advantages of having a recognizable brand. When people know your name online, it inevitably brings conversions and revenue. However, as the number of people who recognize you increases, the need for a branded search optimization strategy does as well. Optimizing for branded search involves knowing what people say about your brand and producing content that responds to those concerns.
Let Ranked help you clarify your content strategy. We help enterprises and business owners build their brand through weekly content designed to rank long-term. Book a call with the team to learn more, or activate your free trial now!