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by Tara West on 1st August 2012
Hello. My name is Tara. I’m a Digital Marketing Executive here at Koozai, and today, I’m going to be chatting to you about something that’s got quite a lot of attention recently. This is the way that big brands are being treated by search engines.
Lots of discussions have suggested that, for bigger brands, standard on-page ranking factors like page titles, content even don’t seem to be as important if you’re a big brand and that big brands are still able to rank for really competitive keywords without some of the standard on-page elements that you might expect.
The example I looked into was Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Their site is built in almost completely Flash. There’s very little content that should be seen by search engines. Their page titles aren’t optimised. There’s nothing really on there that indicates to a search engine what that site relates to, but somehow the brand still manages to rank first for the term “ice cream.” So I’ve looked into it in a bit of detail why this might be to look at some of the elements that maybe search engines perceive as being a brand. If you can then tailor these elements to your own site and your own brand, you might be able to kind of captivate some of that power that being a big brand has within the search engines.
To start with, I looked at their link profile. I thought maybe I’d find lots of anchor text for the term “ice cream,” but actually only 2% of their anchor text included any keywords relating to ice cream. The other thing I did notice was that they had a huge quantity of links. Obviously, this is natural. As you’re a big brand, you’re going to get a lot of links, but it makes me think that maybe the quantity of links is something that search engines look for if they’re assuming you’re a big brand. I think to apply this to your own site, don’t go crazy and get loads of low quality but high quantity links. Still focus on good quality links because they’re going to have the most impact to start with, and as your brand grows over time, you’ll get lots and lots more links and you’ll be able to achieve that quantity. Keep building links because this is obviously an indication that you’re a big brand.
Social is something that’s really important for brands. It’s not just about having profiles on the relevant sites. You really need to be using them as well. Focus your efforts on Google+ particularly. This is something that’s getting a lot of attention at the moment, and it’s only going to get bigger. It’s going to be absolutely fundamental soon. So really make sure you’re actively using Google+, you’re gaining followers, you’re really working to engage with people on there. The same goes for other platforms that are important at the moment. I think the other two most important, in my opinion, would be Twitter and also Facebook. Again, same concepts. Gain followers, get engagement. It’s also important to think about mentions on these platforms, so not just mentioning your own brand yourself, but encouraging other people external from your brand page to mention you on these sites. Those kind of brand mentions, that are not directly related to your own marketing activity, give a really strong indication to search engines that people are recognising you and engaging with you as a brand.
Human intervention, unfortunately unless you’re a huge brand, you’re not going to really be able to kind of captivate this. But obviously, if you’re a huge brand, I think there is something at the top level that’s being said that they’re actively, humanly looking at brands and saying, “What does this brand relate to? What is this synonymous with?”
When choosing your domain, don’t go for a keyword-rich domain. Try to think about getting a domain that’s got your brand name within it. This will really help because, again, it’s just another factor that correlates with the rest of these factors. When all of these factors are put together, they must give some kind of indication that you’ve got a strong online presence that people are engaging and aware of you, and that must indicate that you’re a brand.
These are just some top level factors. I’ve also written a blog post, which covers this in more detail. You can find a link at the bottom of the page. If you’ve got any other ideas of things that indicate a brand within search engines or if you want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter and follow us on any of the profiles below.