Branding is incredibly important from an SEO point of view and one of Google’s new ranking factors which they are looking increasingly at. Gone are the days when good backlinks were enough to get you by. Now you have to consider social proof, user metrics, and branding, as well, so let’s talk about the major talking points when it comes to branding as well as why it matters for your site.
Why Branding Matters
First: what is branding. Branding refers to how we represent ourselves/our sites/our businesses/our products (in a word, our BRAND), and in this case we’re talking exclusively online. As this is your business you are promoting, it’s up to you to decide how you want people to think of you, and that occurs through your branding. Now this might refer to something simple like your business or site’s logo, or conversely it may relate to how it refers to your presence online in Google’s eyes which is what we’re going to focus on. Now let’s talk about how we can represent it on our site effectively.
Brand Backlinks – Brand backlinks are those which include your site’s URL or your company’s name as the anchor text. You should definitely be ranking atop Google for your company name and other related keywords to your company. The more links and valuable links which are comprised of your branding keywords or URL, the more Google will take notice and recognize your site as something which people are looking for.
Brand Mentions – When someone else mentions your site or anything else your brand related in their content whether on their sites or via social network or anywhere else, Google will take notice of those mentions just like with the backlinks and attribute more influence to your site and brand in general because they believe that you are a relevant company which people are interested in talking and knowing about.
Social Presence – It’s important nowadays that you have established profiles on the major 3 social media networks of Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. In addition to a lot of people using these sites to find what they’re looking for in place of search engines nowadays, Google counts social proof as one of their major ranking factors nowadays as they believe this is direct evidence that people are interested in your brand as well as giving a virtual “thumbs up” at the quality of your content, product, or service.
Brand Searches – When someone searches for your company’s name or website’s URL in the search engines, Google takes notice of this, as well, as another indicator that you’ve got a product or service which people are interested in.
Repeat Visitors – Repeat visitors are very important because they say to Google that your site provides enough value to get people to come back after an initial visit. We can only speculate how much Google considers this in ranking a site but this is one of the strongest indicators of the relevancy and quality of a site. That being said, certain niches are less likely to breed repeat visitors, so you can’t use it as an across the board gauge.
RSS + Email Subscribers – Google also uses RSS and email subscribers to gauge the relevancy and reach of your site and brand, as well. Google Reader can track your site’s subscribers Google may not have access to your Aweber stats but Gmail is the world’s largest free email provider so Google receives more than enough statistics from that to get a read on your brand’s influence in email.
Ultimately the stronger your presence in these various areas, the more authority your site will have as a whole and the better you’ll be ranking across the board in Google’s eyes.