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There’s no denying it: The biggest brands have monopolies on the best search queries. No matter your industry, there are bound to be a few Coca-Colas or Apples dominating your most coveted search engine result pages (SERPs). And there’s a good reason to be concerned. The first page of Google captures the vast majority of all search traffic clicks.
Part of their dominance is related to their size. Bigger companies have bigger marketing budgets. They produce tons of content daily. What you can do in a month, they can do in a matter of hours.
But there’s an intangible component to their success as well. The most recognized brands in the world tend to seep into the subconscious. They get mentions on social media without even trying, and people read, share and link to their webpages the same way they do their favorite artists or television shows.
Branding is now key to gaining high search rankings. Not only does a high level of brand recognition make it more likely that you’ll be searched for online, but in a lineup on a SERP, you’ll be more likely to get clicks than your competitors. If you want to build your brand in relation to search, you first need to understand how search has changed.
Search engines are more sophisticated than ever.
You may have noticed an ongoing trend in the world of search — it has become more intuitive. We can now speak to our smartphones to pull up a query, and our smartphones speak right back to us.
Google can understand a searcher’s context based on a small amount of metadata. The search engine can then deliver knowledge panels, graphs, featured snippets and even interactive tools to address that query. Google is using your content to give people answers, and it doesn’t even need to visit your website.
A recent Moz study found a 30% increase in knowledge panels on SERPs — even though the sites that populated them didn’t have a featured snippet in the first place.
If you scroll down to the organic results, you’ll realize why Google is trying to make the best results stand out. The internet is inundated with content. A single search query will pull up hundreds of articles that all say essentially the same thing.
So, getting on page one isn’t enough anymore. At the end of the day, it’s all about the clicks. And if you want clicks, you need brand recognition.
How can you leverage branding as an SEO ranking factor?
Most small and midsize businesses do SEO work to get high search rankings. But in my work with brands, I have seen that there has long been too much emphasis on the technical and on-page aspects of SEO.
Keywords, meta tags, alt-texts and H1 tags are still important, but backlinks, clicks and mentions elsewhere on the internet (even if there is no link present) are more important than ever.
There are a few things you can do to make your brand stand out and influence your search rankings. Some of these tactics are probably already familiar to you, but you may not know how they can affect your search results.
Start a video series that covers topics in your target verticals. In my experience videos are shared and linked to more frequently than text-based articles. According to one study, 83% of consumers said they would consider sharing video content if it fits their interests.
2. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a tried-and-true backlinking strategy, but it also boosts your brand. Getting your name at the top of industry-leading websites gives you more legitimacy, and search engines still love it.
3. Publishing In Industry Publications
Whether they are online or in print, getting published in publications that your prospects are reading can increase your brand visibility. You can do it the old-fashioned way by taking out an ad. But you can also step in as a guest writer. Start by contacting a publication’s editor to learn about their publishing guidelines.
4. Public Speaking
It may seem counterintuitive, but public speaking events are a perfect way to gain brand recognition and influence your rankings. They’re a goldmine for content. You can share video snapshots of your speaking events online, conduct audience surveys to get quotes and even write articles about the experience.
Anything you can do to encourage brand recall can help your status in search results.
Is it time for a rebrand?
If your pages aren’t ranking in search and you aren’t getting clicks, you can A/B test all you want. You’ll probably see some progress, and you should keep pursuing those fine-tuned changes.
But if you want to see big changes in your search results, consider rebranding or at least gaining more recognition both online and offline.
May 2, 2019 at 09:00AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs