Over the years, I have heard many “professionals” debate how much Search Engine Real-Estate is appropriate when it comes to your own brand terms. What percentage of the listings you must “own”, or what keywords you must be on top for. I have heard that as long as you hold the top natural position, you don’t need the paid positioning. I’ve heard that you need a good mix of both. I’ve heard that with universal search you need a balance of everything. Regardless of what I’ve heard over the years, it is still my professional belief that you need to own EVERY spot on your branded search results as you possibly can. Why you ask? To quote John Belushi in Animal House: “Why Not?!”
- Getting to the top natural position on your brand is a must. Prove to the engines you are more relevant than other variations of your name, and you will be rewarded. People rarely, if ever, look past the first page of search results when performing a brand specific search.
- Do all of the social media strategies in your power to occupy image searches, video, blog, twitter and more… Relevance matters in SEO, and social media is a great way to have fresh, relevant, indexable content.
- Bid on your brand terms in paid programs. Many will argue that you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, but the reality is, with Google’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, chances are one of your competitors will eventually bid on your brand name (or in our case, Target will continue to ask you if you want to buy Two Media’s). If you are bidding on your own brand (I’m not saying throw your money away – rather set your bids low to start), then you will start to build a historical relevance with the engines making it next to impossible to unseat you without your competitors paying a huge bounty.
- Bid on your brand terms in paid programs with a purpose! By that, I mean factor them into your other campaigns that may be running offline. This is especially relevant for retail clients, but good for everyone to follow… People may not remember exactly what was being advertised, so support your marketing mix with search, even on your brand terms – otherwise, you will be doing your offline efforts injustice.
Start thinking of your brand results in search engines as your own personal search engine site map. Your potential clients may be searching on your brand name, but you may not know exactly why or what for. Fill up as many of those positions on the screen with different navigation options (aka – search results), and you’ll find that your analytics are starting to tell you a story about the importance of not leaving that white space blank on the right hand side.
True story – we once ran a campaign on targeted clients’ brand names, but only the ones that had all white space appear in their search results. The thinking was, it was white space because the particular brand was paying attention to their brand name and making sure others weren’t there (smart). The ads said something like “Dear XYZ, congrats on new TV campaign launch. Let us promote it online.” We watched the analytics and saw that some companies would click on our ads until budgets were depleted to make us go away (hint: this is not effective), some cried foul to Google, but one said “Ok, you got my attention, now get the F*** off my brand and call me so we can do business together.” The point of the story is, if you don’t use the white space, somebody else will – and it may not be just us asking to partner with you!