How to dominate your branded search in Google
As someone who has worked in SEO for over 10 years, my primary objective for clients has always been to identify and optimise their website for the keywords that are likely to deliver the best ROI.
Whether that’s sales, leads, engagement – whatever the client needs to focus on, we do our keyword research, identify the most important keywords and then optimise the content for those keywords.
One thing that we have traditionally not monitored in our keyword ranking tools is branded search. Most clients don’t want to know that they are ranking well for their own branded keywords – they just expect it, however, this is not always the case.
As Google has tweaked and changed its algorithm over the years, focussing on dominating the search results (SERPs) for your own branded keywords has become more important than ever before.
The biggest difference between a branded keyword and on-branded is intent.
Someone searching for something that includes your brand in the query already has some knowledge of your brand (even if it’s only the name) and therefore, their intent is usually much higher than someone who finds your brand in the search results from a generic, non-branded query.
For some time now, we have been tracking branded search queries alongside the generic, high-value keywords which can really drive highly relevant traffic to our client’s sites. We include them as a separate area within our reporting as they tend to skew the data when it comes to traffic and conversions but they are extremely important to our clients and it’s crucial that we dominate the search results for those queries.
But how do you dominate the search results for your own brand?
We’ve identified five steps you need to carry out in order to understand, identify and dominate for your own branded keywords. Follow the steps below:
Identify your branded keywords
As with any SEO work, the first thing you need to do is identify the branded keywords that are likely to drive the biggest ROI.
The first place to start is simply running your brand name (and variants, typos etc) through any of the free keyword research tools. We are really enjoying Ubersuggest at the minute and this will then return the search volume for your brand as well as a long list of related keywords that include your brand.
Another useful filter offered by Ubersuggest and other keyword tools is the option to filter by questions. If you are seeing a high number of searches for specific questions relating to your brand, make sure you have content on your site that directly answers those questions.
After that, also take a look at the existing branded terms that are driving traffic to your website. The easiest way to do this is to use Google Search Console (GSC). GSC has some great features and one of our favourites is the Performance Report. Here you will be able to delve into the keywords that are driving traffic to your site already.
Group and prioritise your branded keywords
Not all keywords are created equal. It will be important for you to arrange the keywords identified in your research into meaningful ‘buckets’ which can be prioritised when it comes to content creating and targeting.
We find that Google Sheets is the best way to arrange all of your keyword research and set up a sheet which includes the following columns:
- Keyword Bucket (this might be an overarching topic or theme where a number of keywords can be grouped together to create a single page)
- Search volume
- Current Ranking
- SERP Features (things like Answer Boxes, Map Packs, People Also Ask etc)
- Type of keyword (it’s important to understand whether keywords are high-intent, information gathering, comparison etc so you can target your content accordingly)
Once you have this list, you can then start to prioritise so you may add to your sheet with a priority and action column to outline the next steps.
Identify content that can help to target those branded keywords
Once you have identified all of the relevant branded keywords for your business, you need to create content in order to provide the best possible content for those branded keywords. The chances are, there will be other websites ranking for your branded keywords so it’s important to ensure you are creating content that goes more in-depth and provides the best possible answer for users.
Understanding the search results can also help you to create content that best meets the needs of both the searcher and of Google.
For example, if you have a branded search query that currently delivers a search result which includes a featured snippet, you will need to understand the content featured within the snippet (i.e. a list, paragraph, image etc) and ensure you create a piece of content that includes these elements, but that does it better than the current site occupying the snippet if it’s not you.
In the example below, we can see that Moz does own the featured snippet for ‘moz pricing’, however below that, SEMrush does not own their snippet for ‘semrush pricing’ despite having the number one ‘blue link’.
In this instance, SEMrush needs to create content that includes a short intro paragraph with the prices clearly shown and highlighted and an image showing their pricing in order to claim that snippet from G2.
Monitor and track your branded keywords
As we mentioned at the beginning of the post, previously we didn’t track branded search queries inside our keyword tracking tool. Clients did not want to know that they were ranking number one for their own branded keywords, however over the past few years, with the changes to the SERPs, it has become an important part of our work to track and monitor these keywords in our tool.
We use STAT for all our keyword tracking so we simply set up a separate project for branded keywords for all our clients so they data does not impact on our standard reporting of keyword performance. Including branded keywords in a single report would mean much higher average ranking data, a much higher Share of Voice percentage and would skew our reporting.
We now include branded search performance in our monthly or on-going reporting for clients as it’s important to understand the value of brand and the importance of creating content on your website to support the brand.
Build your brand on other platforms
Whilst this might not necessarily fit under your remit, amplifying your brand across other platforms is an important task and one that can have repercussions for SEO.
Putting out positive brand messages through social platforms as well as on content site such as Medium, Quora and Reddit can really help to amplify your brand messaging and introduce your brand to a new audience that might not necessarily find you through search.
In your spreadsheet, include a column for ‘Amplification’ and include in here any of the channels you may wish to push out certain messaging to support the content being created for the website. This can be as simple as pushing out positive reviews you receive through Facebook or more detailed like creating a bespoke piece of content about your brand on Medium as you know a lot of your target audience are using that platform.
Brand is something that a lot of SEOs forget about and take it as a given that a client will rank for their brand automatically.
This is a mistake.
There are so many opportunities for brands to dominate the search results for their own branded queries so make sure you invest some time into identifying, creating content and tracking and monitoring your results for branded keywords. You may be surprised at the impact on your organic traffic.