Brand searches – an integrated approach

A few weeks ago, Econsultancy featured an interesting post on The Slow Death of the Home Page. Econsultancy focuses in on the tendency of search engines to deep link to content in your site so that visitors bypass your home page, but I want to focus on another search-related issue.

For most brands, their brand search results page on search engines has many, many more visitors and potentially more impact than their website home page.

At the same time, the search results page for a brand search is becoming a better guide to the wide variety of digital assets that most brands have hosted around the web. As well as their website, brands normally have a collection of videos and images, social media pages, press releases, retail locations and product feeds.

Google in particular is starting to do a great job at bringing this information together into a comprehensive ‘brand portal’. (Admittedly some of these advances come with the less than noble goal of justifying the need for brands to bid on their own search terms.)

Optimising the brand search results page is the starting point for an integrated approach to search. Getting it right requires a lot of different disciplines to work together, including PPC and SEO search specialists, social media experts and web designers – which perhaps is one reason why smaller brands often seem to be doing a better job right now.

For an example of what can be done, here is the current search results page for a search on “Cambridge Satchel Company”:

cambridge

Starting from the top on the search results page:

  1. The phone number is redirected via Google and is charged on a pay-per-call basis like pay-per-click.
  2. The local extension shows a map of your nearest store in the right hand margin when clicked.
  3. Social extensions shows the number of followers the brand has on Google+
  4. Cambridge Satchel Company are using all six available site links (many brands are yet to upgrade from four). These links are set by the advertiser and are a great opportunity to drive visitors deeper into your website.
  5. The natural search result for Cambridge Satchel Company. Because this is the top result for the search phrase (which would be true of most brand searches) the search listing shows six site links. In the case of natural search, Google automatically generates these – so their algorithm picks the links it believes visitors will find the most useful. (You can request that unsuitable links are ‘demoted’)
  6. The listing from Google Shopping. This recently changed to an auction only model – in this case ASOS has won the top listing.
  7. The latest post from Google+. This shows up when your account passes a popularity threshold and is linked to your website. It is really useful to do this as the Google+ post makes it harder for competitors to bid on your brand term.

Further down the natural search results, you would expect to see links to relevant videos and images, a link to the brand’s Facebook and Wikipedia pages and recent news stories.
Your brand search page is arguably the single most important page you have on the Internet – and yet it is often not managed proactively or given enough focus. Getting this page right sits at the heart of a fully integrated digital strategy.

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