Five ways to own your brand in organic search

The relationship between a consumer and a brand is constantly evolving in today’s digital-first world, primarily driven by the rapid growth of search engines and user-generated information. In the world of search, all information is essentially up for grabs.

If a user types your brand name into Google search, it may appear in the search results along with any other third-party review site, news and opinion articles, trending videos and social media posts. Sometimes these are positive, touting a successful experience or lending extra confidence in your products; and sometimes these are negative, citing product issues or unsatisfactory customer support. You can’t control every result, but you can take steps to maximize your presence and validate your brand in organic search.

Whether you’re a company experiencing a brand reputation crisis, a growing entity trying to expand your presence, or a brand simply looking to improve your organic channel, it’s never a bad idea to solidify your brand in organic search. In this blog, we’ll cover five ways you can start doing just that!

Wikipedia page

Wikipedia is a trusted source of information for both users and search engines, so having a published page for your brand can offer a wealth of benefits for organic presence. Google frequently uses it as a resource, citing it in Knowledge Panels and even plugging extra, Wikipedia-drawn data into other result listings. 

There are risks to having a Wikipedia page for your brand while in the creation process, along with when the page is published. Wikipedia’s cornerstone is non-bias, so they have very strict quality guidelines and extensive review processes in place. To submit a page, you must do so independently and have no outward association with the brand in question. Furthermore, your page needs to contain only facts and straightforward explanations, with no marketing or promotional language. 

Remember, non-bias goes both ways. Once your brand’s Wikipedia page is live, it is subject to all users’ review and suggested edits. This means that all publicly available details of your brand’s products, history, and employees can (and likely will) be included in Wikipedia sooner or later. Even Google’s page has an entire section on controversies and allegations against the organization.

But we’re not pointing out these risks to scare you off, as a published Wikipedia page can grant immense benefits to your brand’s organic search presence. It can help build trust in your brand, as users can refer to the verifiable information Wikipedia presents, instead of anything obviously influenced by your own PR team. This affirmation is hard to replicate, even with customer testimonials and reviews on your site.

As mentioned above, Google also places a large amount of trust in Wikipedia’s content. The more information about your brand, the more likely Google will be to pull into other search engine results page (SERP) features, including your brand’s Knowledge Panel and potentially featured snippets.

Knowledge panel

A Knowledge Panel is the information box that occasionally appears on the right-hand side of SERPs when you search for widely known entities. It presents quick, organized information about the entity searched, including a brief summary and key facts (often drawn from Wikipedia), social media links, and closely related entities.

The Knowledge Panel is automatically generated from various sources of information Google interprets, although it can be changed either directly by the entity in question or from general user feedback. The information comes from the Knowledge Graph, Google’s database of facts and information gathered from a wide range of sources.

To optimize your Knowledge Panel, you first need to claim it using a brand-associated Google account. Search for your brand in Google to find the panel, and click the ‘Claim this knowledge panel’ button below it. Google will take you through their verification process, and soon enough, the panel will be yours to manage. With this Google-generated feature, you’ll be able to provide reviewable suggestions rather than direct, immediate changes to the Panel; but by supplying sources to support your suggestions (i.e., your Wikipedia page, or news articles), the Knowledge Panel can be built out and optimized as needed.

A Knowledge Panel presenting full and accurate information can significantly improve your brand’s SERP appearance, as it can occupy up to half of the first page. The external presentation can also add an element of validity to your brand, as users often interpret panel ownership as a sign that your company is an entity recognized by Google.

People Also Ask

Another important feature Google generates in its SERPs is the People Also Ask (PAA) module, which showcases content that can specifically answer questions highly related to the main search query. As these modules are curated by Google, they can give sites an opportunity to target and appear for more specific, often longer-tail questions even when they may not rank as well for the main query itself. 

In owning your brand in organic search, PAA questions present additional opportunities to emphasize your relevance around various topics. Your content becomes specially catered to the audience’s question when presented as a clear, quick answer, which can help to build your brand as a helpful source of information. 

If you’re already building your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and developing content, this doesn’t even require additional effort! You can build PAAs into your existing strategy by utilizing your existing organic research and content. PAAs are tied to their search queries, and many tools already gather data on them; to properly target PAAs, structure your content to clearly answer the questions, which you should already be doing. 

Finally, devoting attention to PAAs can enrich your understanding of your organic opportunity, and how your target audience interacts and searches within your space. Let’s use the example of ‘wool socks’, with this SERP:

You may start out wanting to target ‘wool socks’ with a product detail page, which would prove to be very difficult when the SERP has several ads and big players like Amazon. However, an analysis of the PAA modules in that SERP would reveal that, actually, organic users want to know more about:

  • What are the best wool socks?
  • Are wool socks good?
  • Why are wool socks so expensive?
  • Are Smartwool socks 100% wool?

Therefore, it could be more prosperous to create a guidance page that answers such questions. This way, you capture users with helpful information, immediately developing a positive first impression and incremental trust in your brand.

Structured data

Any SEO worth their salt knows structured data is a must-have for any organic search initiative, and it’s no different for brand ownership. Structured data markup helps search engines interpret the information on a web page, and in many cases, can improve the page’s chances of appearing in one of Google’s SERP features. For organic brand appearance, here are four types of schema to focus on:

  1. Organization markup should be present and filled out as much as possible on your homepage. This type of structured data includes key information about your brand, and is known to be utilized in Google’s Knowledge Graph (AKA, the source of the Knowledge Panel).
  2. HowTo markup should be present on any pages that include step-by-step processes, as these are often pulled into featured snippets or PAAs for their relevant “how-to” queries. Including this robust markup helps search engines interpret the process you’re outlining, and provides the quick, easy answer they’re looking to serve.
  3. Article markup should be present on all blog posts or any long-form content your site regularly publishes. It can help Google show better headline copy and key page elements for Google’s article rich results.
  4. FAQPage markup is particularly useful for targeting those People Also Ask modules discussed above. The content in question should already be structured in a clear question-answer format to best compete for these. A full and accurate FAQPage schema can close the deal.

Brand monitoring

Last but certainly not least, you need to make sure your efforts are paying off. Depending on the complexity of your brand and its organic landscape, you may be able to simply use one filter in one tool to get an idea of how your brand does organically. On the other hand, it may be well worth setting up specific filters and utilizing data across multiple tools. While we typically want to focus on traffic, you may have noticed that much of these methods actually focus on growing visibility (this should lead to a growth in traffic over time).

Google Search Console (GSC) is a great place to start, as it gathers all queries your site has appeared for in Google search. Set your filter to your main brand term, and spend some time reviewing the list of queries, particularly based on impressions. From this, you should be able to gather an idea of the parameters for which you’d want to track your brand – take into account shortened versions, common or understandable misspellings, and well-known product names.

Basic tracking

If you’re a relatively small brand just looking to grow your organic channel, you could call it a day here. Every month or so, check this list of filters in GSC and see if impressions are growing. 

If you’re looking to grow awareness of your brand, you could also use Google Trends with your main brand name. Google Trends data more broadly reflects daily searches than GSC might, and helps to scale trends so that you can easily track growth.

Advanced reporting

If you’re looking to get a bit more complex, or perhaps experiencing a reputation crisis, you’ll want to build a few more filter criteria and utilize data from a few sources. In addition to your brand name parameters, use GSC and your internal knowledge to designate some search terms that are directly tied to the crisis you’re experiencing. For example, if your brand is facing criticism over product issues, you can start your Reputation Crisis terms list with ‘recall’, ‘issues’, or ‘complaints’ – terms that can only mean one search intent.

Then, you’ll want to watch these lists side by side to understand the organic awareness of your brand; are your impressions for your crisis terms growing faster than your normal brand terms? When you dig into the specific queries that appear in your brand list, do the majority of terms also appear in your crisis list?

Concluding thoughts

No matter what your goals are for your digital presence, it never hurts to strengthen your brand’s organic search position. Today, a new user may be exposed to several possible first impressions of your brand, or a long time customer could discover posts or news that convince them not to return. You can’t control every Google search result or every name mention on the web, but you can start to solidify your brand and earn validity with these five methods.

For more on organic search, or to speak with our SEO team, get in touch!

by Kailin Ambwani
7 December 2020

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