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Making the Most of Branded Search Results

Matt Stone

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The main objective of many SEO efforts is to attract new customers from search engine referrals, meaning potential customers that do not already know about your products or services. These ‘non-branded’ SEO search visits provide an opportunity to introduce your company to those prospects that may not know you.

But what about visits from prospects that are looking for your brand specifically? Are these visits as valuable for improving the ability to reach new readers? Absolutely! Branded search visibility can be leveraged to support visibility for other important pages on your site and build page authority to compete in non-branded search.

Brand Name Search “Leverage”

Using the name of a company in a search term is generally known as a “branded” search. For many, if not most organizations, these branded visits account for a very high percentage of the total number of visitors arriving as the result of an Internet search.

Non-branded search visits, from readers seeking information related to a specific product or service without using a brand or company name in the search term, offers an opportunity to introduce your company to those that may not be aware of your organization, its products or its services. A non branded search would be for something like “hiking boot stores in Santa Fe.” Here, the reader doesn’t know a store name, just that she/he wants information about stores that sell hiking boots. An enterprising boot store owner that has optimized his website for this term in the Santa Fe area then has the opportunity to meet a potential new customer that may not have previously been aware of the store. Because of the ability to attract new readers and customers, non-branded search visibility is a prime objective of many search marketing initiatives.

The Importance of Landing Pages

To better structure a visibility initiative though, it is necessary to understand a bit about landing pages. When a user enters your website from an organic search query, they do so by selecting a link to a “landing page” that they think is going to provide the information they are looking for. For a non branded search, Google or one of the other search engines, will usually present a single page result that they think best answers the user’s query. For a branded search, Google frequently offers a list of pages for that company from which the reader may choose. When the user selects one and clicks on it, he/she is using that page as the “landing page” for that website.

The landing page is the entry point to the website for that user. A landing page may be related to a specific product or provide answers to common questions about the company or service. In any case, you want to make sure that important landing pages are as visible as possible and attract as many visitors as possible. Fortunately, managing your branded search can provide this visibility and thereby strengthen the page authority so that it may compete more effectively in both branded and – eventually – non-branded search.

Both types of search visits – branded and non branded – can work together to build better traffic and improve search engine visibility. Leveraging branded search to build strength for non-branded search can be an effective strategy for overall visibility and website traffic improvement.

All Search Visits are Good

Search visits provide the search engines (Google and Bing, for example) with statistical information about the content quality of each page. Time on page, bounce rates and other metrics help define the value of the page content. If readers find that page content valuable, search engines will provide more favorable visibility on search results.

Exposing your content to more readers can invite visitors to link to your content from external sites. Link building is a powerful way for the search engines to judge that the content on a particular page of your site is valuable. In the end, the more readers that find and consume your content, the better your future traffic is going to be .

Highlighting Preferred Pages

Search engines use reader information (time on page, bounce rate, geo-data, etc.) to decide which pages and sitelinks to display when that user looks for your company, business, or product online. These links tend to point to pages that receive the most search visitors, such as the home page of your site. In many instances though, these generalized pages may not be the ones you want readers clicking on first. Managing branded search landing pages can be highly useful in directing traffic to specific product pages or information you want your consumer to see based on their search queries.

For example; below is a search result showing the links to various landing pages for a branded search for Parallel Path:
These are the primary results for a branded search for us here at Parallel Path, when the user queried the name of our company (brand) directly into the search engine. But what if we wanted to build strength for a specific page on our site for a distinct product or service? What if another web page better serves our potential goals and objectives of finding new clients for specific products/services? Fortunately, there are options to use branded search to build visibility and traffic for other pages on our site.

Managing Branded Search Visibility

The search engines present what they believe are the most valuable links to a particular website as results for a branded search. They also present the meta description for the primary page (usually the home page) and then the first 65 or 70 characters of the meta description for four or five of the more popular (usually, the most visited) pages.

Strategic management of landing page visibility guides readers to the content you want them to see. Brand search management requires careful attention to the controllable and on-page optimization elements that the search engines will be crawling, including:
meta title – setting a succinct, descriptive title that fits within a 55-56 character limit
meta description – where possible, ensuring that the most compelling part of the message is contained in the first 60 character elements
headlines and H1 tags – particularly the H1 tags – creating succinct and descriptive headlines for your site page content
internal linking – setting strategic internal links to share page authority with pages you want prominently featured in search results
good content – content value and volume influence how long a reader stays on the page. A page without informative content will not retain reader interest for very long, so adding valuable information is important to influencing time-on-page and other page consumption statistics
managing visibility of your pages through the sitelinks options in Webmaster Tools

The Sitelink Tool

Google Webmaster Tools provides an often overlooked method of influencing which web pages come up on a branded search. Unfortunately, GWT doesn’t allow you to specifically designate which pages should appear, but it does provide a function to designate which pages should not appear. The “demotion” function can prevent certain pages from coming up in the user’s first search results. So, if you do not want the “About Us” page to come up among the branded link results, you can use the Sitelink Tool to demote it and prevent it from appearing.

Which site page will replace a demoted link though, is not possible to control. Therefore, managing the website fundamentals, such as internal linking strategy and on-page optimization, becomes more important. As the search engines want to display the most valuable results, a page that is well optimized and generates higher landing page views than other pages, is more likely to replace the demoted link on branded search results.

Making it all Work Together

Leveraging branded search visits and visibility to build page authority for the content that you believe is important, can, over the long term, improve the ability of your important pages to compete more effectively for non-branded search. As the search engines monitor how readers interact with web page content, directing readers to your important pages can improve that page’s ability to compete for additional search engine visitors.

For more information, please contact the staff at Parallel Path. We work with companies to utilize all tools at their disposal to increase website visibility and traffic.

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