Brand SERPs You Really Should Be Tracking (and Improving)

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Brand SERPs You Really Should Be Tracking (and Improving)

Jason Barnard
Brand SERPs You Really Should Be Tracking (and Improving)

Ignore {Brand} SERPs at your peril!

Search queries in the SERPs for your brand name are vital touch-points for both people and machines and are therefore absolutely essential to your business.

You should be tracking, evaluating, and improving them, consistently. 

1) People

Consider {Brand} SERPs as your new Business Card.

google-business-card-4.png

Prospects, investors, partners, clients, journalists, job candidates, readers, subscribers...

Most people will search for your brand at some point before or during their working relationship with you.

What they see when they search your brand name is vital. Their perception of your brand when that first page displays is a factor that could very well tip the balance in the decision they are making about doing or continuing to do business with you. 

Do those SERPs accurately communicate your brand message?

Does it accurately reflect who you are and what you do? Is every single result accurate, up-to-date and positive? My experience has been that business owners assume Google shows complete, accurate, positive information to prospects who search their brand name. They are wrong.

Even if the results are not overtly negative and are reasonably accurate, {Brand} SERPs are never perfect — they can always be improved. Have a good look, and see where they could be better, then set out to influence those results to make them as accurate and positive as possible. Sending out a clear, positive message to prospects is essential to any long-term business strategy.

Insight and Action: Getting Started

First, set up tracking. At an absolute minimum, I track both {Brand} and {Brand review} for my clients. The list can be expanded depending on the market, the specifics of the brand and the business aims. 

Second, evaluate what message the SERPs are projecting about your brand to people checking up on you. Try to put yourself in the place of a prospect, investor, partner, client, journalist, job candidate, reader, subscriber or whoever else you seek to be an attractive proposition for. Take a step backward and evaluate with an unbiased view and a super-critical eye.

Third, set out to make every single result accurate and positive. Work to ensure that Google presents the brand image you wish to project to its users (the people you want to do business with!)

Start with improving the first page of results, then move onto the second. The second page is optional here since relatively few people look further than the first page. But SEO and ORM both require that you improve the second and third SERPs, as we will see below.

Stick to the facts.
Google wants to present you in an honest light.
It has no reason to present you inaccurately or unfairly.

google-business-card-2.png{Brand} SERPs are your online Business Card.
Don’t neglect them


2) SEO, AEO, and Google

SEO and AEO (Answer Engine Optimisation) is the second primary reason you should be tracking and improving your {Brand} SERPs. The first pages of results for the search query {Brand} indicate how well Google understands your brand, and the first 2-3 pages of results for the search query {Brand + review} indicate Google's assessment of your credibility

Consider {Brand} SERPs as Google's assessment of you.

For more on why understanding and credibility are central to any digital strategy, read this article.


Big Bonus: ORM Protection

If you have built very accurate and positive results for {Brand} queries through an ongoing cycle of 'Track -> Evaluate -> Improve', those SERPs will tend to be more stable. And as a bonus, should there be a little bad press in the future, the negative results are less likely to rise to page 1 and ruin your {Brand} SERPs in the eyes of your prospects. And if they do hit page 1, you will have already developed the skills in-house to boost the quality results of pages 2 and 3 to displace the negative PR. 

orm-lock.pngLock in accurate and positive {Brand} search results.


Track, Evaluate and Improve. Repeat.

If you want your business to prosper long term, you do need a perfect "online business card". An ongoing strategy of tracking, evaluating and improving {Brand} SERPs will boost your brand image in the eyes of both people and machines and put you in the driving seat for the long haul.

cycle-orm.pngTrack, Evaluate, and Improve. Repeat.


Track and Evaluate = Easy.

Trickier: How To Improve {Brand} SERPs...

The results/snippets that appear in your {Brand} SERPs can be grouped into 3 types:

  • Those you control directly.
  • Those you control indirectly or partially.
  • Those you do not control.

Obviously, the easiest thing you can do today is work on improving the results you control directly - those on your sites. For example, meta titles and descriptions are often sub-optimal (and sometimes missing entirely). Make them shine for you!

Use the meta title to communicate the basic message, and then the meta description to expand on that in a helpful and informative manner.

Note on missing meta descriptions: If you don't have a meta description for a page, Google will create a description from one or more pieces of content on the page. And, that may not be the message you want to convey. Using the meta description tag correctly gives you more control over what Google shows.

If you also optimize the less obvious brand pages that appear in {Brand} SERPs, the first result for a search on {Brand} can go from this...

acme-homepage-snippet.pngOh dear!

To this:

acme-homepage-snippet-good.png

That is the simplest and most obvious tip. Nothing ground-breaking there.

How Many Brand Searches?

The volume of brand searches varies enormously from business to business and from market to market.
But whether your company is a local business or a multinational corporation, brand volumes are well worth keeping an eye on.

Higher search volume means:

More People on the last, decisive step before doing business with you, and perhaps helpful, positive signals for Google. For example, high brand search volume implies that a brand is credible, and the dates when brand searches peak gives clues that help Google better understand different aspects of the business (like, low {brand} search query volume on weekends could indicate that a brand is B2B). And, the words users associate with brand names can help with both understanding and credibility through semantic relationships and sentiment.

So, how many times do people search your brand name? It is easy to find out using Search Console.

Brand Searches for Mailjet

Getting the Data From Search Console

Search Console gives you reliable data about the volume of brand searches.

In the following URLs, replace https://www.yoursite.com with the full domain name (make sure you get the correct protocol - http or https and with or without the "www"), yourbrand with your brand name and copy paste into the address bar of your browser.

I am assuming here that you have a Search Console account, are logged in and have added your site as a property.

{Brand} Searches

https://search.google.com/search-console/performance/search-analytics?resource_id=https://www.yoursite.com/&query=!yourbrand&breakdown=query&page=!https://www.yoursite.com/&num_of_days=28

Look at “impressions” - that is the number of times people searched your exact brand name over the last 4 weeks. 

For {Brand review} Searches

https://search.google.com/search-console/performance/search-analytics?resource_id=https://www.yoursite.com/&query=!yourbrand+review&breakdown=query&num_of_days=28

All Searches Containing {Brand}

It is also very useful to look at all queries containing your brand name. Any user search query that contains your brand name is potentially a big deal.

https://search.google.com/search-console/performance/search-analytics?resource_id=https://www.yoursite.com/&query=*yourbrand&breakdown=query&num_of_days=28

Disclaimer: Generic/Ambiguous Brand Names

With a generic or ambiguous brand name, {Brand} searches bring up irrelevant results for users and the Search Console data on {Brand} searches loses much of its meaning. Plus, ambiguity is something machines are pretty uncomfortable with.

Stay tuned - in June I will write a guide on the techniques you can use to improve both {Brand} and {Brand review} SERPs:

  • Learn more advanced tips for directly controlling results.
  • Get tips to improve results where you have indirect or partial control.
  • Learn how to influence or change results you don't control.

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Almost 2 decades of experience: I started promoting my first website in the year Google was incorporated and built it up to become one of the top 10,000 most visited sites in the world.
Today I am a search marketing consultant, speaker and author on all things search / answer engine optimisation :)

My column will outline how we in the world of SEO can successfully segue into AEO – Answer Engine Optimization. I will develop the details of the two major concepts your AEO strategy should center on: communication and credibility. Within these concepts, luckily for us, most (white hat) SEO tactics we use today will remain
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After reading this post, I understand that I am a decade backwards to understand present trends on SERP and SEO. I am not in a position to comment well on this subject and I require more understanding. I will repeat coming to your articles again and again. Till then my comments are reserved. Anyhow thanks for the information in this post. I am also bookmarking your blog and see how it will help me further.
Craig McBreen
Hey Jason, thanks for the valuable info here. Talking with clients more and more about this, basically starting right out of the gate with both branding and SEO (the peanut butter and jelly combo). It's the only way to create the perfect “online business card." I'm enjoying the series and learning quite a bit! Keep 'em coming. Looking forward to learning how to influence or change results I don't control.
Jason Barnard
Craig McBreen
Hey Craig

We are very much on the same page, you and I.
Your comments are really encouraging. Especially as your site Mcreen Marketing really covers this subject very well :)
You cover several great points about controlling {brand} SERPs on your blog already - so anyone wanting to get a bit of advance information should give that a read https://mcbreenmarketing.com/google-new-business-card-control-people-find-business/
I intend to take things even further :)
Best
Craig McBreen
Jason Barnard
We certainly are!
I really like the track you’re on with these posts. A great topic and very helpful to both marketers and business owners.
And, thanks for the mention!
Craig
Simon  Cox
Excellent - I look forward to the next installment!
Do you have a way of determining when a brand becomes a recognised Brand in Google?
Some examples of where it has gone horribly wrong would also be great Jason!
Jason Barnard
Simon Cox
Hey Simon

I suppose we can look at this as stages of recognition:
- The fact that the correct site ranks top for the {brand} serp indicates that Google has a basic understanding and a simplistic recognition of the brand.
- Getting rich sitelinks for the official site on the {brand} serp indicates more recognition.
- Google has an API for the Knowledge Graph. Get an explicit mention in there and it is sure that Google recognises the brand. https://kalicube.pro/knowledge-graph-explorer?q=nokia
- Get the Knowledge Panel on the {brand} serp and you are truly "recognised" https://www.google.fr/search?q=nokia
- a higher relevancy score returned by the Knowledge Graph indicates more recognition https://kalicube.pro/knowledge-graph-explorer?q=apple

I have been researching the idea of measuring Understanding and Credibility, and there is certainly an element of recognition in there. For example :
https://kalicube.pro/brand/apple

Outside bad press, horribly wrong {Brand} serps are quite rare...not-very-positive ones are frequent !
American Airlines and University of California Davis have had big problems as mentioned here - https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/301079/united-airlines-a-reminder-of-why-marketers-must.html
Both seem to have cleaned that up.

I am not an expert in managing reputation disasters... more interested in moving brands from not-so-good => ok => good => great {brand} SERPs to get the recognition you mention and the credibility I bang on about :)

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment - much appreciated
Simon  Cox
Jason Barnard
Always a pleasure and thank you for the comprehensive reply! I like the idea of being able to measure Understanding and Credibility and a quick check on Kalicube suggests I need to do some personal brand building myself!
Kelechi Ibe
Thanks for sharing, Jason!

Learned something new today. Didn't know Google equates brand name search to the credibility of a website but this makes perfect sense now I think of it.

Would really appreciate insight and tips on how to possibly remove a negative review on the Google My Business preview on the SERPS.

Looking forward to your next post.
Jason Barnard
Kelechi Ibe
Hi Kelechi

You can submit a request to Google about that review, if if is unfaire, mentions a competitor or is otherwise unsuitable.
Other than that, the only solution is to get so many good reviews that the bad ones are considered by Google to be rare exceptions.
Kelechi Ibe
Jason Barnard
Thanks for the insight, Jason! :)

Do you know the direct link to use when submitting such review to Google?
Jason Barnard
Kelechi Ibe
I am afraid I don't ! But I do know you can contact Google MyBusiness team through https://twitter.com/googlemybiz?lang=en
ANd they answer !!!!
Kelechi Ibe
Jason Barnard
Thanks for the helpful resource!
H sir how can i rank my website on google first page with my competitors. As we are Cashback and coupon website in india .My competitors is too much .
Hoping you to reply
Thanks
Patrick Hoffmann
Azhar Hussain
Start by looking at their backlinks and how they optimized their website with images and text. You might find something useful on their sites. Try to use the skyscraper method (google it) - just be aware that cashback sites and coupon websites are very hard to outrank if it's the first time you're doing SEO. Good luck!
Jason Barnard
Patrick Hoffmann
Wow Patrick. Thanks for taking the time to reply. Appreciate the help :)
my website is not showing in google.com.au
I just updated HTTP to HTTPS
Simon  Cox
Muhammad Majid
Google consider http and https as seperate websites - as indeed they should as you can technically run seperate sites off each protocol. You needed to have followed a good migration plan to lessen the impact. Never mind - start by telling Google you have moved the site to https in Google Search Console (you will need to create a new profile for the https version of the site) - lots of advice around on how to do all this.

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