10 Ways to Optimise Your SERP

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.

Thomas Haynes By Thomas Haynes from Optix Solutions. Join the discussion » 0 comments

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

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

Reviews

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.

Directions

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

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.

PPC Ads

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.

Meta Data

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.

Social Profiles

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.

Reputation Management

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).

News

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.

Warnings

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.

Conclusion

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.

Thomas Haynes

Written by Thomas Haynes

Head of Digital Marketing, Optix Solutions

Thomas is a Digital Marketer with 10 years of experience in small and large agencies.He has worked on digital marketing campaigns for a wide range of organisations including Oxfam, Marks and Spencer, Bet365, Three, Etihad Airways, Myla, Tesco, The Eden Project, and HSBC.He is currently the Head of Digital Marketing at Optix Solutions in Exeter.

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