Last week, I received a Google alert for my name. It turns out, I share a name with a convicted robber in Virginia who was just sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Clearly, that wasn’t me.
Although my friends and colleagues know that, someone who was looking to do business with me might raise an eyebrow if they found this news story when searching my name online.
Thankfully, that’s not likely to happen since the content I’ve created dominates the first few pages of search results for my name.
But what about your business? Do you “own” the search results for your brand?
If you don’t, it could have serious implications for your business.
A Negative Search Results Page
Let’s take a look at Morton’s Steakhouse, for example. A couple of months ago, the Nashville location kicked out a cancer patient and his co-workers for wearing a hat inside the restaurant.
Members of that dinner party flooded the restaurant’s Yelp page with negative reviews and it wasn’t long before the story went viral.
If you look at the Google search results for Morton’s, you see that half of the search results include news articles about this story. That’s not what you want to see as a brand owner.
Whether you have negative stories and reviews dominating your search results like Morton’s or if you have competitors or impostors crowding your brand’s keyword searches, we’ll help you re-gain control with some simple tips.
Monitor Your Brand Mentions
The first thing to do is to survey the situation. If it’s been awhile since you’ve Googled your brand name, do so now. That way, you can see what others find when they search for your business.
You can also set up alerts for various social media sites so you can be alerted of conversations about your brand. There are also a number of tools that monitor Yelp and other review sites, such as ReviewTrackers and Chat Meter.
Once you see what’s being said about your brand, you can then take the next steps to manage your brand’s reputation online.
How to Own Your Brand’s Search Results
Website with branded URL.
In other words, don’t simply create a blog at “yourbusiness.wordpress.com”. You should build a website on “yourcompany.com”. Not only does that help you from a branding perspective, but it will also help your page rank higher in search results.
2. Build your social media profiles.
If you aren’t already using social media as part of your digital marketing efforts, this might be a good reason to start. Not only does social media sites rank high on search results pages, but social media signals also impact the search rankings for your site.
For example, when searching “Blue Kite Marketing”, you’ll notice that our Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages are the top results after our own websites.
If you are already using social media, make sure your profiles are completely filled out. For example, make sure you have consistent brand name, avatar and bio for each social network.
3. Start blogging.
As I’ve said before, Google likes sites that are updated regularly. Adding a blog to your website is one way to keep your site fresh and at the top of search results.
Additionally, writing guest blog posts for other websites and publications can increase the authority of your website and also add to the search results for your brand.
For instance, I have written a number of guest articles for the Nashville Business Journal. When you search my name, the third result is my profile page for the newspaper with all of the articles I’ve written.
4. Focus on media relations.
News articles — especially from highly trafficked websites — often rank high in search results. Not to mention, positive press can help you build awareness for your brand and even drive leads and sales for your business.
An ongoing media relations effort would be a worthy investment to help keep your brand on the front page of Google and top-of-mind with your customers.
5. Use paid search.
In the case of Morton’s, pay-per-click advertising for their brand name could help the restaurant own more of the real estate on the search results page.
In other words, buying advertising for branded keywords would allow their ads to show up at the top of the page and would help push out some of the unwanted organic search results.
Additionally, having the number one advertising spot helps prevent your competitors from stealing your traffic by buying that spot.
6. Focus on reviews.
Customer reviews are incredibly valuable to your business. In fact, one study suggests that 72 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Google Reviews have a significant impact on local search results. The more reviews you have, the more likely your business will show up on map results or in a “carousel” of local results at the top of the page.
In addition to Google, it helps to pay attention to online review sites such as Yelp, Citysearch, and Better Business Bureau.
Secure relevant listings.
In addition to review sites, there are a number of local business listing websites that you should consider to help bolster the SEO for your website and dominance of your company’s search results.
Moz has a free tool called GetListed that allows you to check your local business listings and see which ones you might be missing.
Depending on your industry, there might also be a number of other places to pursue listings for your brand. Think about professional associations and organizations where you hold memberships. Oftentimes, those places allow you to include a link to your business.
If you follow these steps, you should have no trouble gaining control of the search results for your brand.
Do you “own” the search results for your brand? What do you find when you Google your company name?