At SMX West, the session does Google Favor Brands brought a lot of interesting comments from many of the panelists. Moderated by Danny Sullivan, it featured:
Aaron Wall, Author, SEO Book
First up was Aaron Wall.
He looked back at how brands have been handled over the years. He commented there are many ways to detect brand, such as search behaviour (both search volume & CTR), how frequently user’s hit the back button after visiting the site/page, repeat visitors, and query chains.
Bryson Menier was next.
He commented how Google is becoming its own content source, with their sites such as YouTube, Google+. Google Books, Google Places, flight serch, Android marketplace.
He said smaller brands have it a lot easier when it comes to reacting to changes. Smaller brands can move a lot faster on needed changes, compared to most larger brands. Affiliates and small business can compete with the big brands, but should focus on building brand.Big Brands are not always winning – dont get complacent – staff aprropriately – use words ppl are searching for
He also said no one in this room would have a job if it was’t for Google, which is probably true for many of us.
Next up was Mark Monroe.
He said brand advantages means a marketing advantage, link/citation advantage and a behavior advantage. Users tend to click more on sites they know. If people don’t know who you are, you don’t have the brand click advantage.
He brought up an example of two forums, one with brand advantage while the other did not, both using the same forum software. Brand A was not a brand and had 4 million uniqiues. Site B, which was a brand, had 2 million uniques. But the interesting look on bounce rates and page views showed that Site A had a 82% Google bounce rate with an average of 1. page views per site. Site B, the brand site, only had a Google bounce rate of 56% with an average 4.6 page views per visit. However, the site B advantage was almost entirely do to repeat visitors. Look at it from only first time visitors, and suddently both sites had nearly identical page views and Google bounce rate. It does show how brand can affect how loyal people tend to be to their brands.
If you are not a brand, you have to be that much more for potential visitors because you don’t have prior engagement with those visitors. Every search is a question, so make sure if google offers your site as an answer, that you are actualy answering it. His example is how to fix a flat tire on your bike. First result gave step by step instructions on how to fix a bike flat. However, another result, with the same title tage was actually not even how to fix a flat, but instead said “the best way fix a flat tire is to not get one in the first place. here are products…” This is a bad user experience because the promise of the title wasn’t actually answered for the visitor. So make sure your page delivers what the title promises.
He also talks about review sites, something which got hit with Panda. Review sites with zero reviews on the page are not a good user experience, and have a high bounce rate as people leave the site in search of one with real reviews available.
Testing metrics is very important. You want to track bounce rate, user engagement, page views and what is actually getting clicked.
Next up is Tony Wright with “Turning Brand Awareness into SEO Success”
Fact: companies with high brand awreness tend to rank for more keyword terms and get more traffic from Google. Google may or may not favor brands inentionally: Brand awareness doesn’t automatically equal google success, but algorithmically it should.
The average consumer mentions speciifc brands over 90 times per week in convos with friends, family and coworkers – John Moore, WOMMA, 2010
Companies with brand awareness think differently than those without brand awarenss. SEO is usually not a priority, most have baclink profiles others would kill for. However, on page changes are extremely slow to occur – its not the decision makers money, in most cases. He mentioned an example of a client of his whose IT dept explained they cannot do any 301 redirects. Another exanple is it took 2 years to get meta tags changed on airline site, with the client citing “page load speed” as why it couldn’t happen… and by the time it did, meta tags were no longer as important.
Look at who your influencers are: the move to customer service based social media is strong and will have seo dividends because even the most jaded influencer loves to hear from the perceived brand leaders. Influencers can make or break rankings for a single term, sometimes single handedly.
Dont be the logo police, you have to understand the difference between protecting your brand and alienating your online audience. You should never let a good logo or copyright get in the way of a good viral experience. He brings up the example of an arline going after boy scouts who used logo for flights to their jamboree.