Stephen Logan

Should Companies Optimise Brand Slogans Online?

15th Mar 2011 SEO Blog 5 minutes to read

A slogan or tagline can play an integral part in the marketing of a brand. It can be used in any form of advertising, from billboards to television adverts, and works by building recognition amongst consumers. So why aren’t companies optimising them online too?

Okay, that’s a massive generalisation; but there are a surprising amount of (not all that insignificant) brands being beaten in the search engine results for their own slogan. Worse still, some are being outranked by competitors or derogatory articles. Surely this is reason enough to get to work on targeting one little phrase.

How Optimisation Should be Done (Take a bow Carlsberg and Tesco)

First though, I’ll give you a good example of a company that’s got it exactly right – Carlsberg. The landing page might be awful (and actually asks you to click through to the main site), but they have had the foresight to optimise for their slogan – ‘probably the best’ – using it within the Meta title.

But whilst the page isn’t great – no unique content etc. – it has been created for the single purpose of ranking for the company slogan, which it achieves. It’s not exactly an unpopular search term either, with 380million other pages also in the mix. So this perfectly shows how easy it would be for many companies to effectively manage branding online – including the slogan.

Tesco is actually another pretty decent example too. In fact they’ve really gone to town to ensure that they dominate the SERPs for “every little helps”. They’ve targeted it on two pages, the first being their careers section and the second simply being an information page that adopts the slogan as its title. This is how simple it should be; and neither Carlsberg nor Tesco have to be concerned about any negative stories creeping into their results. But they appear to be the exception rather than the rule.

Now for the not so good.

Feelunique Missing an Opportunity?

This blog post began, as many good things do, whilst sitting in front of the TV. I saw an advert for a new (to me, it’s actually been around since 2005) website, it looked pretty flash and they had clearly spent a fair amount producing the ad. However, what really caught my eye was the slogan “The Destination for Beauty”. Nice and simple, captures the brand, good start.

Intrigue got the better of me and I searched for that self same slogan on Google, lo and behold there Feelunique was – in Fourth! Worse still, it was beneath a site promoting plastic surgery in Thailand. This is a PR4 site with seven years of domain age and 33,000 links. It’s a brand that is investing in a substantial marketing campaign, and still isn’t targeting, let alone ranking for the slogan emblazoned on their ads.

Feelunique don’t have the brand power or site strength that Carlsberg has and therefore can’t simply optimise using a Meta title. However, they could easily achieve something if only they carried out the basics of SEO. For instance there is no original content on the homepage (which is the page that is ranking for the term) and the Meta is non-existent.

Why not target this phrase on the ‘About Us’ page? It’s a strong page and decent entrance point to the site for visitors. At no point (apart from in the logo image) is there a mention of “The Destination for Beauty”, which I feel is failing to capitalise on a decent slogan. It wouldn’t even need to be shoehorned in, just include it within the H1, content and Meta.

This isn’t to have a go at Feelunique at all. They’ve got a well-designed site and have had some pretty decent link building implemented. But it’s a good opportunity wasted, simply by missing some of the most basic content rules – as elaborated on in my SEO Southampton series.

They are in good company, and I am minded of a very similar example from Econsultancy last year in which they exposed the poor optimisation carried out by Renault during the company’s Megane Experiment. Here it was found that Renault were targeting the wrong pages and optimising inaccurate phrases – essentially it was all one big mess. But there are many others in the same slogan jeopardy.

Take L’Oreal for instance. They are clearly aware of the need to be seen in SERPs, but have failed to get an organic ranking for “because you’re worth it”. Instead they have taken the PPC option and feature (at the top of the page) in the sponsored ads section. All those clicks would be free if they bothered to optimise for it, instead the Guardian, Wikipedia and Cartoonstock dominate the top results.

McDonalds is a complete car crash. Their website appears seventh (in the UK at least) for “I’m Lovin’ it” and it’s not even the UK domain, in fact it’s the Malaysian one.

British Airways haven’t bothered either. The SERPs for “The World’s Favourite Airline” littered with articles pillorying BA. Surely it wouldn’t take too much for them to optimise their PR6 site.

Whilst ranking for a slogan may not be high in the list of priority areas for most businesses, there’s surely no excuse for being quite so laissez faire about it. If you’re prepared to plaster it on your offline marketing, why not online too? Companies should be looking to tie in their efforts and combine both worlds to protect and develop their brand identity.

If I forget your brand name, but remember a slogan or another key identified that you’ve been plugging, I don’t want to then find that you’re not appearing for that phrase – particularly if that’s what you’ve told me to search for. It’s extremely pertinent for Internet-only companies, such as the aforementioned Feelunique, to promote all available avenues, and I would see the slogan as one of these. For larger brands, they should be looking to  ensure that others aren’t besmirching their identity or profiting from it.

Optimisation isn’t overly complicated, but it does need to be done properly. Whatever it is that you’re targeting, use content, site strength and common sense to dominate the SERPs. Slogans shouldn’t be ignored, and whilst it doesn’t need to be all over your homepage, at least consider where else it could be used. Otherwise anybody could get the jump on you and take away a relatively simple ranking.

NOTE: I am also fully aware of the ridiculousness of how I, a person with a first initial and surname that spell ‘Slogan’, am advocating effective optimisation of slogans. This, I can assure you, is entirely coincidental.

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