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by Mike Essex on 29th September 2011
How confident are you that you can prevent negative mentions in the future?
This blog post will teach you how the biggest brands in the world achieve this and, more importantly, how you can do it.
What we’re talking about is the ability to rule the world for your branded terms. To have a degree of control over what people see when they search for your brand, and to push the mentions you want on to page one of the search results for your key terms.
Why is this important?
The way customers search is changing. In SEO we’re taught to go for generic keywords to drive people to websites. But there’s a missed step; people are unlikely to buy from a new business without first doing some research. So they’ll go back to the search engines and do a search for your branded term. If what they see at this stage paints your brand in a negative way then they will not return to make a purchase.
For those who say that their brand is too small to worry about this, Jim Lecinski, author of Google’s Zero Moment of Truth states that “If consumers will do research online for houses and health care, they’ll also do it for Band-Aids and ballpoint pens”.
In short customers will research even the simplest of products before they make a purchase, so this applies to all businesses.
These are the people you are fighting against, and they come in many different forms. Anyone who is out of damage your brand or profit from your brand identity is a brand terrorist. They include:
• Bad PR
• Negative reviews
• Counterfeit goods
• Unhappy customers
You need to be active to stop these items polluting your branded term results, and even if nothing like this ranks for your brand now, you need to prepare for the future.
Whilst Google now has larger links under branded terms they aren’t enough to replace a need for reputation management. For example if we look at Topman. Last week they had negative PR above their branded term search, telling people that the company was sexist.
In addition if people have searched for your brand, they want to know information about you (regardless of whether or not you fill the screen with branded sitelinks). Dina Howell the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X explains that “Customers find incredible detail online from every possible source” so you need to protect your brand image in these places.
Here are a few examples of bad page one listings that can be found online:
Ryanair: A search for Ryanair brings up A one star review in the page one listings. As a customer that’s likely to damage my opinion of the brand and reduce the chance of me making a purchase.
Groupon: When I search for Groupon an article appears entitled “Groupon’s days are numbered”. As a prospective business wanting to list services on there that’s not what I want to see. The same for customers, who wants to deal with a business that we’re being told won’t be around forever.
JC Penney: When you search for JC Penney it brings up an article with the title “dirty little secrets”. Does anyone want to deal with a business that has dirty little secrets?
It gets worse:
Nestle: Search for Nestle and you get told to boycott them. A very worrying thing to see as an existing or new customer.
But it doesn’t have to be this way
Search for Microsoft and you’ll see a page one full of good information. Although they have a fair share of brand terrorists, they dominate page one for their brand, and almost every result is a property they control. This is what we will emulate.
So how can we start to add extra entries in to the search results, that will remove the brand terrorists? How do the biggest brands in the world do it?
The Gap use a Facebook page which ranks well on their page one results. It’s also a great way for them to interact with customers, and they have control over negative comments posted on the site. You can also use Twitter, Linkedin and any social property.
Coca Cola have a separate website (Coca Cola Store) which sells Coca-Cola products. Not only have they added an extra result to page one that they control, but they’ve monetised it as well.
Hard to get, but great if you succeed. A Wikipedia entry is pretty much a guaranteed page one listing, and one way McDonalds have an extra listing.
We saw earlier that people are searching for vouchers, and some customers will only make a purchase if they can find money off. So create a voucher (even something you already do like free P&P can suffice) and circulate it to voucher sites – The London Dungeon do this very well. Then add a page on your own website with the voucher, so people can easily make a purchase.
If you can release your financial information then do it. Lots of big financial market websites are well regarded by the search engines and rank well as a result. So Send them your data and get listed. The Financial Times is one of the best, and this is one site GlaxoSmithKline have on their page 1.
Publish news via PR websites for a quick win – a search for Bacardi brings up a release announcing a new North American chief . Always have a press release ready in reserve. If bad press breaks about you, then you can combat it with a positive release, that will appear higher in the results due to freshness. We’ve also seen news releases continue to rank from 2008, so this isn’t just a short term fix.
Find relevant websites in your business area and provide them with business data. For example Petrol Prices.com lists prices at Esso, which then ranks on page one for the Esso brand. It’s a neutral site that pushes down brand terrorists.
Whilst unhappy customers and bad reviews can be loosely grouped into the brand terrorist bracket, good customer content is exactly what is needed on page one. Such as Pimp that Snack.com who make giant versions of popular snacks. They rank on page one for Oreo and help add a fun element to the brand.
Search engines love a mixture of media, so having video content gives them something fresh to show searchers. Homebase have a great YouTube page where you can see their products being used. It ranks on page one, and should help them sell more products.
This is one for every web agency. We use our eConsultancy profile to rank well on Page 1 and it’s a great entry that we control which helps promote Koozai to prospective clients. So find places to list your business and get found.
All of the above strategies work really well and if you had to get started here’s a look at the most popular top 10 items for branded terms based on a look at how the biggest brands do it:
Learn about our Brand Protection Service.