You probably spend a lot of time perfecting your homepage. Optimising the page title, improving call-to-actions and checking that the copy correctly aligns with your user personas are all important tasks to ensure you make the most of your traffic. Chances are you see your homepage as one of the most important user touchpoints.
Your homepage is important but it’s also important to consider that not everyone searching for your brand actually clicks through to your site. Your brand’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is just as important.
This post explains why you should optimise your brand’s SERP and details 10 things to prioritise. Chances are you’ll have spent some time on these tactics but you’re bound to find something you can improve straight away.
People searching for your brand name in Google may visit your site but they will also have other options available to them. For example, they might visit your Google My Business page or read some reviews, they might check out your Facebook page or even the site of the company who has a similar name. Some people might Google you and then Google your competitor. It’s therefore vital that your brand’s SERP sells your brand fast. Here are 10 ways to optimise your SERP:
Sitelinks are the links that appear below your homepage which go to other pages on your site. You’ll want these to be the pages for your top services or products as well as other important pages like your Contact or About Us page.
Google has helpfully gotten rid of the ability to demote these sitelinks via Search Console so removing pages you don’t want to show is a little more complicated than it used to be (thanks, Google!). It’s still possible to remove pages though as this post explains.
Image: Google Search Console Help
Most brand SERPs have some reviews from Google, Facebook or review sites like Trustpilot. Anything under 3/5 stars gives the impression you have a customer service issue. 4/5 stars is okay (but not great) but you should obviously be aiming for 5/5. Here’s a good post from Econsultancy that explains how to get more positive reviews.
Sometimes people are only Googling you to see where you’re based or to get directions. If your Google My Business listing has an incorrect address (or if you’re hard to find) then you’ll be starting all your meetings on the back foot as your visitors will already be annoyed.
As well as awkward first encounters, having poor directions (or no location listing at all) doesn’t say good things about your brand. Even if you’re an eCommerce site and don’t expect visitors, people are much more inclined to trust a company if they know where it is located.
Images are a great opportunity to quickly communicate your brand’s values and showcase yourself to potential clients. Typically the only images that will show on your brand’s SERP will be ones connected to your Google My Business listing. That’s why you should ditch those uninspiring, out-of-date photos of your office and invest in some professional photography.
Sapphire Spaces uses the images on their Google My Business listing to showcase their beautiful showroom as well as their location.
Studies show a combination of organic listings and paid ads tend to result in more traffic than either result type in isolation. This is often the case for branded searches — I always recommend that all businesses at least try a branded AdWord Campaign. If nothing else, a PPC ad gives you control over more of your SERP and another opportunity to communicate with potential customers.
If you’re actively managing your SEO, you’ll already be giving thought to your page title and meta descriptions and how potential visitors respond to them. One of the best ways to do this is to monitor your Click Through Rate in Google Search Console. With this you can see if changes result in a higher percentage of users clicking through to your homepage and any other pages from your site listed on your brand’s SERP.
The Title on your homepage should clearly describe what you do as well as featuring your brand name. This typically takes the form “[main keyword | [brand name]”. If your homepage Title is “Home” then fire your SEO (or yourself).
Linkdex’s homepage Title includes branding and a brief summary of what they offer.
Your brand’s social media profiles can appear in your SERP as organic results and also in the Knowledge Graph results on the right-hand side. If someone wants to find your social profiles they probably will, but it doesn’t hurt to have them displayed here. If nothing else, it makes your SERP look more complete and saves people time.
Adding links to social profiles from the Knowledge Graph panel in Google’s SERPs involves adding Structured Data markup. Here are instructions from Google on how to implement this.
Asos’ Knowledge Graph results link to five social media profiles.
You’ll probably already know if you’ve got a brand reputation issue, particularly if there is something untoward showing up when people search for your brand. I won’t go into detail about reputation management here, but if you can’t remove the issue, a good thing to consider is pushing the result in question off the front page by getting more pages to appear above it (e.g. social profiles, news results, listings on other sites).
If your brand is newsworthy, you may be featured in stories in Google News and these may show up when people search for your brand. This might be positive, but it could also be pretty negative. If the news is really bad (i.e. if your brand is a trending topic) you might find that Google News results appear above your organic listing, in which case you’re really in trouble.
Unroll.me’s SERP is currently dominated by some bad publicity.
There are a few reasons Google might warn users who are in a position to click through to your site. Needless to say it’s pretty important to avoid these warnings like the plague. If your site is somehow still not mobile friendly, Google might display a warning saying so. If you’ve been hacked, you’re also at risk of potential visitors being put off by a warning in the SERP.
Hopefully this post has convinced you the search results for your brand terms are as important a customer touch point as pages on your site. Even businesses that are doing a great job in their digital marketing are likely to be able to find something to improve on their brand’s SERP in order to turn browsers into visitors into customers.