Branding online and offline are both equally important. This is especially true for crowded spaces where successful market penetration largely depends on standing out from the competition. Today I’ll be focusing on online branding — specifically, how you can optimize for and influence branded searches on search engines.
A branded search term is any keyword that contains your company’s name. For example, the term “Forbes magazine subscription” is a branded keyword. These kinds of keywords are important because they typically correlate well with high search engine rankings. Search engines perceive companies as more trustworthy when consumers conduct searches that include a brand name.
Additionally, branded terms typically have high commercial intent. People who use these keywords are already familiar with your organization. Hence, they’re more likely to make a purchase. So, you must be able to not only capitalize on the current brand search volume but also increase it. Here are some ways to optimize and improve brand search volume:
1. Use your brand name in meta titles.
The main benefit of including your brand name in meta titles is that it strengthens your website’s relevance to the brand. A website that has its brand name included in its meta titles is unlikely to be mistaken for another entity, thereby ensuring that every branded search term leads users to the right domain.
Also, an often overlooked brand marketing avenue is the SERPs (search engine results pages). Practically everyone reads the title of a search result before deciding whether or not to click on it. So including your brand name in the meta title of your webpages whenever possible can help increase brand awareness.
2. Identify branded keywords.
Branded queries are extremely valuable because, as previously noted, commercial intent is high. Some companies even bid on their competition’s branded search terms via PPC (pay-per-click). I’d recommend conducting keyword research to identify all relevant brand search terms.
You can use a tool like Google Keyword Planner or Answer The Public to do keyword research. Use your brand name as the starting point or seed keyword. This will return all keywords related to your brand. Export your findings into an Excel spreadsheet and filter out any keywords without the brand name.
Once you’ve uncovered the branded keywords consumers are using to find your products/services, use the information to create content that addresses them.
3. Answer consumer questions.
Branded-term keyword research will also identify questions that consumers have about your products. Consumers that have questions about your brand are usually either already customers or interested in buying a product. In either situation, they should get the answers they want from you instead of a competitor or elsewhere. I’d recommend answering each question with dedicated content pages on your website, though you can combine related questions.
4. Own the local map packs.
Locally optimize your business to appear at the top of map packs whenever people search using location-specific branded terms. The map pack is a box that appears on the SERPs, containing the name, addresses and phone numbers of businesses closest to you. Adding your business and website address on Bing Places or Google My Business (GMB) further strengthens your brand’s online presence. I’d also recommend adding your organization to other similar business directories (e.g., Yelp).
You can optimize your map pack in the following way. First, make sure your brand name, address and phone number is accurate in every web directory. Then use structured data markup to specify your brand name, address and phone number on the company website. “Structured data” is HTML markup that is used to provide more information to search engines. I recommend speaking to your web developer or SEO expert for implementation.
The aforementioned can improve your ranking position for relevant brand searches. For example, the nearest Walmart store location should also appear on the SERPs whenever someone types in a relevant branded term, such as “toddler toys Walmart near me.”
5. Create useful tools unique to your brand.
Consumers enjoy applications that make life better, such as online calculators, calendars, etc. Creating useful online tools can increase branded term searches, which naturally improves how your website performs on the SERPs. People will often search for tools using your brand name (e.g., online calculator XYZ company) instead of painstakingly typing in the web address. Furthermore, these tools can become additional consumer touchpoints that generate leads and traffic.
6. Contribute or publish content on high-traffic sites.
Contributing or publishing content to high-traffic websites can build brand awareness and increase your company’s reach and website traffic. The key is contributing content that demonstrates your organization’s expertise. A great and inspiring article can drive readers to search for your brand name on search engines because they want to know more.
7. Utilize offline promotions.
Offline promotions, like regularly hosting events or sponsoring groups, can increase the number of people that search for your brand online. Even something as simple as handing out more business cards can improve branded term searches. If implemented strategically, every offline marketing activity can spark curiosity, which can lead consumers to investigate your brand further online.
The Ripple Effect
The effect of branded searches can be likened to a ripple effect. The more you have, the better your webpages perform in the SERPs, and that can bring in more customers. Also, search engine algorithms eventually begin to associate brands with specific products based on branded search volume and possibly others. Here’s an example: If enough people search for something like “glue 3M,” the brand would eventually begin to appear among the results for that term. Lastly, doing better marketing, in general, can increase brand searches.