Want more customers to discover your business online? Dozens of marketers share their top tips for using local citations to boost SEO.
SEO | Jun 9
Mara Calvello on May 17, 2021 • 13 minute read
We all know that when it comes to driving awareness to your company, it’s all about the keywords.
While you can spend countless hours doing keyword research and creating an effective SEO strategy to support them, don’t forget about the keywords right in front of you — branded keywords.
If you’re unsure what branded keywords are or how to incorporate them into your SEO efforts, we’re here to answer all of your questions and provide you with nine tips from the experts.
Jump ahead to get started:
First things first, what exactly are branded keywords?
A branded keyword is a search query that includes a website’s brand name, or any kind of variation of the brand name, that is unique to the brand.
Let’s take Databox for example. Branded keywords for Databox would be:
Anytime a user searches for a keyword like the ones above, they’re searching for a branded keyword of your, well, brand.
If you’re unsure how to pinpoint your brand’s specific keywords, there are a few ways to find them.
One of the ways to find your company’s branded keywords is to Google your company. Before you click Enter, take a look at what Google is suggesting for your brand.
For example, I did this with Databox and saw the following:
To see more than what Google suggests, you can also start typing additional words. Start by typing your brand’s name followed by “a”.
This method is utilizing Google’s auto suggest and autocomplete features, which are both great for helping you to determine branded keywords. You can also take advantage of “related” searches at the bottom of the first search results page, like the below example.
Of course, besides using Google’s autocomplete feature, auto-suggest, and related searches, you can identify branded keywords in any of the following ways:
Now that you have a better understanding of what branded keywords are and how to find them, let’s take a look at these nine tips for optimizing for the branded keywords unique to your company.
Want insights on a specific tip? Jump ahead to:
When it comes to branded keywords, one of the first ways you can play to their advantage is by optimizing all of your local SEO efforts. This includes tools like Google My Business and Google Maps.
To do this, Joe Terrell at Drifted explains, “One of the most powerful things you can do to optimize for branded keyphrases is to go to your Google My Business page and make sure it is full of your desired keywords, photos, business hours, and anything else you are able to fill out.”
*Editor’s note: Check out the free Google My Business template from Databox to learn more about how people are finding your business through organic search.
Going a little deeper into how to optimize for local SEO is Andrew Ruditser at Maxburst. “One effective way for optimizing branded keywords is to focus on local SEO. Establishing local SEO will help you rank higher on search engines by bringing relevance to your company and your keywords.
As Google starts to see your company listed on popular sites like Yelp, Yellow pages, and even its own platforms like Google My Business, Google Plus, and Google Maps, it will notice the legitimacy of your company. As Google starts to recognize your company, they will optimize your branded keywords more and more on search engines. Especially if you continue to update your information on their own platforms like Google My Business, you further your chances of standing out over your competitors,” shares Ruditser.
In addition to local SEO, there are some other off-side efforts that you can take advantage of to ensure you’re optimizing for all branded keywords.
What do I mean by off-site efforts? Christine Glossop at Looka explains, “As important as your onsite efforts are to optimizing for branded keywords, you can’t forget your offsite efforts. Building a name for your brand on the wider internet (and real world) will increase the chances of searchers using your brand name. A strong social media presence, guest blogging, PR, and other awareness-focused efforts can be a great way to gain name recognition. After all, it doesn’t matter how well you optimize your site content for your brand name if no one is searching it.”
Harry Gandia at Criminal Defense SEO also recommends honing in on specific off-site strategies, especially taking advantage of social media. Gandia shares, “Optimizing for your branded keywords is very important, it helps with brand reputation and brand awareness. To do so, we always make sure to set up social media profiles and optimize them with branded imagery.”
Additionally, Brooks Manley at Brew Interactive recommends, “Earn (or claim) a knowledge panel for your brand. This can showcase authority and build trust with searchers. To do so, consider creating a Wikipedia page for your brand, implement correct structured data for your organization, and earn reviews for your brand across the web.”
Another great way to optimize for branded keywords is to pay special attention to your brand’s site links, which are the six links that appear directly below your website in the search results, before the second result.
Explaining further Nathan Sebastian of GoodFirms. To utilize these links, Sebastian explains, “When a user searches for your brand, the Google search engine results will show six links in the big search snippet. These are the site links.
Some time back, SEO had some control over which links will be shown here, but now that’s not the case. These links will offer 10 times the visibility of other pages on your website.
You need to make sure that all of these six pages are relevant, engaging, and compelling. Use images, call to action, testimonials, FAQs, statistics, or anything else that will make it an effective landing page.”
Finally, William Westerlund at SW Growth AB also adds, “Polishing your site links is a great way to optimize for branded keywords as they are extremely visible which in turn makes them traffic magnets. As you no longer can decide which links will appear here, your job is to polish all pages to make sure they are relevant and compelling.”
If you’re not creating content to support your branded keywords, you’re missing one of the best ways to play to the advantage of these keywords.
Unsure what kind of content to create? Mudassir Ahmed at Blogging Explained shares, “Create new content to support your brand keywords. Educational blog posts, case studies, reviews on 3rd party sites, eBooks, FAQs, or videos may be effective. As a service provider, I really love having an FAQ section on my important web pages or all pages. With them, you are essentially trying to build trustworthiness in the eyes of readers and Google by saying, ‘ I have answers for your questions and it is worth visiting my website’”.
Some specific content that could play to your branded keywords is comparison content, which compares your brand to a competitor. For this, Kevin Miller at GR0 recommends, “Producing content for comparison is a crafty way to optimize for branded keywords. Comparing your brand to your competition can drive high-volume search traffic straight to your website.”
Another fan of comparison content is Kristina Witmer at Witmer Group. “A great way to optimize for branded keywords is to create a comparison post. Brand X vs. Brand Y vs. Brand Z. The comparison post should be fair, accurate, and contain multiple screenshots to add value. Google often picks up and ranks these types of blog posts very high as it offers immense value to the reader,” adds Whitmer.
Not only is searching for your company name in Google a great way to find your branded keywords, but it’s also an effective way to optimize for them, too.
Like we mentioned before, Google’s auto-suggest feature is a great way to optimize for branded keywords. Sam Gooch at Kinsta takes the time to find branded keywords using this method. Gooch shares, “ Use Google autocomplete to get an idea of the branded keywords your potential visitors are searching for. It’s very common for competitors to target these types of keywords, but since they are often about your brand, it’s important for you to capture this traffic.
It’s also often easier to convert branded traffic, so channeling these users to your site will prevent your competitors from benefiting from your brand. If I start searching in Google for ‘Kinsta’, the autocomplete suggests searches for ‘Kinsta pricing’, ‘Kinsta hosting’, ‘Kinsta login’, ‘Kinsta affiliate’, ‘Kinsta alternatives’, and more. Now it’s up to us to look at creating/modifying pages that match the intent behind these branded queries, allowing Kinsta to rank for these branded keywords.”
This method can also help you to pinpoint areas where your brand is missing from the results and how to improve its ranking. Meisha Bochicchio at Wistia wraps this point up to add, “Leverage search engine results page (SERP) intel to drive your strategy. Search for your brand and then look for SERP features like ‘people also ask’ and ‘related searches.’ These are things that people are actively searching for, and you should have a strong presence for these related queries. Also, pay attention to SERP features that may be missing, like image results and video results. These are easy ways to expand your reach and take up more brand real estate.”
Some points go without saying, but I’m here to say it anyway: make sure your website is optimized to include its own brand.
What do I mean by this? Tommy Landry at Return On Now takes a deeper look to say, “If your website is properly built around your brand identity, you’ll find it much easier to target brand terms from day one.
So the bottom line is: optimize the site for your brand upon initial creation and as you add more content, and you’ll be sure to show up on the SERPs when people search for you.”
Diving deeper into this tip is Mfon Ekene at TargetTrend. “The most important brandable keyword is your website/business name. One very easy and common way to optimize for this brandable keyword is to insert your website name as a suffix in all your article titles. As your contents rank in search engines, your key brandable keyword is also ranking.
If you are using a CMS like WordPress, there are plugins like Yoast that can help you insert this in your title tag automatically. Usually, you should have a – or | before adding your business/website name, to help users understand that it is not part of the title but the source of the content,” explains Ekene.
There are a lot of great tools that can help optimize for branded keywords — and one that can’t be forgotten is tried and true Google Search Console. If you’re already a user of Google Search Console, then you should be taking advantage of what it has to offer for branded keywords.
Explaining how to do so is Nikola Roza at SEO for the Poor and Determined. Roza shares, “One effective way for optimizing for branded keywords is to first discover what people search for with the help of Google Search Console, and then take deliberate action to optimize and rank for those terms. The one effective strategy I use and that works really well is to get links with branded anchor text that also include your target keyword. So, for my site, it’d be ‘Nikola Roza SEO’ or ‘Nikola Roza’s link building tutorial’ or ‘Nikola Roza’s keyword research guide’.
This type of anchor text clearly tells Google they need to start associating those broad keywords with your brand and you end up ranking higher because of it. And it’s not hard to manually build those links. If you’re getting invited for interviews, those are perfect for brand+keyword anchor text.
Expert roundups are another good one. So are niche edits…
Finally, you don’t need a whole lot of these links because they’re branded terms and you should be the most relevant result regardless. So, these links are only there to gently nudge Google to recognize your rightful claim to those keywords faster.”
*Editor’s note: Take this tip one step further with the free Brand Awareness dashboard brought to you by Databox. It integrates with Google Search Console in just one click to measure your awareness performance.
If you, or someone on your team, frequently posts guest blogs, or freelances for other companies, it’s a great way to include your brand name and drive traffic for its unique keyword.
Andre Oentoro at Milkwhale explains this point to say, “A good way to optimize branded keywords is to insert your branded keywords in your bio when you’re publishing articles on other sites.”
Also a fan of this method is Natasha Rei at Explainerd, who adds “You can optimize branded keywords by inserting them on your meta title if you host content. You can also publish guest content on other blogs to place your branded keywords. Publishing in a high-traffic site will help you amplify your site search.”
Finally, let’s not forget about one SEO method that has a lot of benefits: backlinks.
In order to optimize for branded keywords, it’s best to work backlinks into your strategy. To do this, Nate Nead at SEO.co explains, “Branded keyword optimization is all about sourcing high-quality brand mentions and backlinks with branded anchors. This has a couple of benefits. First, it’s probably one of the most natural means of building links. Second, it helps to build brand awareness and exposure.”
Branded keywords are one of the easiest and best ways to drive awareness and traffic towards your company’s website. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and take a deep dive into your brand’s unique keywords and start building on the ways your customers are searching, and finding, for what your company has to offer.
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