About a month ago, Aaron Wall published a landmark blog post where he showed that Google was placing a lot more emphasis on brands in their search engine results pages (SERPs). In the post, he showed examples of well known brands that started ranking for popular keywords.
At this point, the algorithm change seems to only be affecting short keywords with a high search volume instead of long tail keywords. Still, this could be an important trend in the SERPs.
Consider Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s comments about brands back in October (also from Aaron’s post):
The internet is fast becoming a “cesspool” where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted.
“Brands are the solution, not the problem,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”
“Brand affinity is clearly hard wired,” he said. “It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.”
With Google’s new emphasis on brands, it’s important to have brand building as one of the pillars to your SEO strategy. Here are 3 principles to keep in mind.
1. Have a long term mindset.
Famous brands like Nike and Coca-Cola were not built quickly. Brands take time to build.
It will take consistent quality effort for at least a couple months, if not years, to turn your site into a brand. However, the payoff will be huge when you hit the top rankings. Plus, your rankings will be hard to overtake since most people don’t do this hard work of brand building.
2. Create viral content.
A site becomes a brand when it receives enough mentions on the web that a huge number of people take notice.
The most efficient way to get mentions is to create content that people will naturally pass around. You as one person can only do so much marketing. Therefore, get your visitors involved by creating useful and/or entertaining content that they’ll want to share on the web.
Here’s one way to do this. Check what’s popular on social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, YouTube, and Twitter, and then create something similar for your own niche.
By the way, when I say content, I’m talking about apps, videos, podcasts, and even your product. Adding viral component into your product is a great idea.
3. Network with other webmasters online.
You can create an awesome piece of content but if no one knows about it, it won’t spread. You need to give it a little push. That’s where being friends with other webmasters comes in.
If you have these online friends, they can promote your content and get the ball rolling. Not only that, but having other webmasters promote your stuff builds up the credibility of your brand. It’s more credible if someone vouches for you than if you vouch for yourself.
So, how do you find and build these friendships?
That’s for another blog post but the main principle to realize is that profitable partnerships require “give and take”. For example, you can promote their stuff (links, tweets, social media votes, forum posts, etc.), let them know about it, and they’ll often reciprocate. Also, try taking interest in their work. They might check out what you’re doing.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to developing a brand than these three things.
What other principles do you have for turning a site into a brand?