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Google SEO News and Discussion Forum

How to look like a brand

 5:24 am on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

This was touched on somewhat in the past by netmeg and others, but it's become increasingly obvious to me that Google is ranking brands more so than ever. So what can we non-brand sites do to compete with them? What kinds of things is Google looking for to distinguish brand from non-brand?

I've looked at the brands that are outranking me and I can see that as far as a computer is concerned, there's no reason that I can't look more brand like than I am. The one thing I don't have is a B&M presence. However, Google, Yahoo! Amazon, or craigslist don't have a B&M presence either. They do have well-known names though, so essentially, I'm asking what the best way is to bridge the gap for small sites like mine that are clearly the niche leader but are getting beat by the brand bias.



 5:48 am on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I should also add that it was netmeg's "brand up or die" comment that has been nagging me ever since. Ok, so how?


 6:06 am on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

the best way is to bridge the gap for small sites like mine that are clearly the niche leader but are getting beat by the brand bias.

I think you've said what you need to do. Now go and market to your niche audience and obtain some approval of your reputation online.

Specifics - you know your market + SEO basics. Build from there.


 6:51 am on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

What Whitey (and netmeg) said, and start at the top. If your site name is thebestwidgetsforu then consider finding a more professional and shorter name.


 11:15 am on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my opinion one criteria that Google uses to identify a brand is how many people search for it by its name. For example, if you have a site named "Wally's Widgets", then Google will start to recognize it as a brand as more and more people begin searching for that name.

So it could help if your site has a name that sticks in peoples' minds. But for real success, you need a site that people remember and want to visit again.


 8:38 am on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks everybody. I do have an evergreen site with regular viewers. However, since Google and the other search engines changed their layout to put ads above the organics, less and less search traffic everyday. Add to that the Panda, Penguin and EMD shuffle and it looks like a very tough nut to crack.

Brands have displaced the #1 spot that my site held in Google for over a decade. It now sits in third place. The hierarchy is clear: ads, brands, organics. In response, I'm doing what I can to boost my Facebook and Twitter traffic. Long way to go.


 5:26 pm on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

>>>In response, I'm doing what I can to boost my Facebook and Twitter traffic.

Don't forget mobile. A lot of traditional web traffic has disappeared into the mobile web.


 5:34 pm on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

All the brand stuff is simply a byproduct of all SE's -- not just Google's -- push to identify entities. Brands are simply one type of entity that is easy to identify. So, to be identified as a brand you have to start putting out signals that you are a specific entity.

A good place to start:

[entities site:seobythesea.com] [google.com]

As you can see, SEs have been stressing entities for a number of years.


 6:12 pm on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Brand signals:

Authority - are you the best resource for what you do? I mean really really the BEST? You might know you are, but does your site reflect it? (I can't tell you how many clients come to me and say "Of course we are" and they have some enhanced Yellow Pages website that could have been put up by any Tom Dick or Harry) If you're in a broad niche, or your niche is already saturated by the big guys, then just take one or two aspects of it, and focus on being the best at THOSE. I knew going in I could never compete on general widgets, so I picked blue widgets, and made myself the most comprehensive resource for those (even though I had other widgets) Eventually I started getting traffic (and ranking) for other widgets. Now I'm right up there with just plain ole widgets.

Trust - are you giving off trust signals? Google came right out and said one of the questions they ask their raters is "Would you trust this site with your credit card?" Are you accountable? Is there a real face you can associate with your brand (even if it's just a cartoon, ork ork)? Can people email you and get a speedy response back; are you findable on Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+ or Twitter if they have a question? You might not have a B&M (I don't) but people still like to know who they're dealing with - in a general sense, where you are, why you're doing what you do, etc etc. Testimonials, ratings and reviews are all good too. Mentions in the press, awards, anything that lets people know there are real people at the other end.

Buzz - are people talking about you? Offline, or on social networks? Ironically enough, the more time you spend developing NON search engine channels, the more it can help in the SERPs. At least, in my experience. There's no reason in this day and age not to have a mailing list. There are several services you can use for FREE up to a couple thousand names. My two biggest clients still do sizable direct mail (not everyone can send out 100,000 84-page catalogs every month, but maybe a flyer or a postcard?) You know your potential customers are searching in Google, but where ELSE are they hanging out? That's where you need to be.

When I look at the niches I work with, the big brands sit at the top in areas where I haven't established myself (or am not able to) as the authority for that search. One client has 3500 products, almost all of which are also sold by Amazon and many by big office supply stores. We can outrank the big brands on about 55% of the product line - the rest we're either working on, or else figure we don't have a shot so won't bother with.

There's a lot of people who are uncomfortable with putting this kind of effort into their sites (and their businesses, really) and that's unfortunate. Because that will be the "or die" part of "Brand up or die"

This is not (in my mind) a website issue, it's a total business issue.


 6:18 pm on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

> Don't forget mobile. A lot of traditional web traffic has disappeared into the mobile web.

@martinibuster - Thanks. Yes, I have a mobile version of the site and you're right, mobile is how a lot of people connect. Seems like everybody has an iPhone these days. For my site, traffic is still mostly desktop but tablets and mobile are where it's at. Just a matter if time before desktops are eclipsed.

@jimbeetle - Thanks for the link, unfortunately it just redirects to Google


 6:40 pm on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

@netmeg - Great post. Lots to think about there. Thanks!

Robert Charlton

 7:57 pm on Dec 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

@jimbeetle - Thanks for the link, unfortunately it just redirects to Google

Links with hashtags unfortunately break in WebmasterWorld's redirect scripts. This is the search jimbeetle is suggesting...

[google entity site:seobythesea.com]

Mod's note: I should add for new members that we normally don't cite or link to blogs or to site searches of blogs, but Bill Slawski is someone we consider an authority on various topics involving Google's algorithm and indexing patents.

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