Brand Query Management is about seeking to influence and control the first page search results for brand-related queries (a search for your company, product or service). A company's brand is one of its most valuable assets. So brand query management is a means of both enhancing and protecting that asset.
Why is Brand Query Management Important?
When searchers run brand queries, it's important that your brand has a strong presence in the SERPs. Having a strong brand query provides the following benefits:
- Protecting what you've built - the more results you control, the less opportunity there is for potential brand vultures.
- Perceived value - a strong brand query demonstrates perceived value to a customer, which enhances your brand franchise and brand equity.
- Brand consistency – an across-the-board, consistent brand should also resonate in the SERPs, which will reinforce brand identity with consumers.
- Risk management - by crowding the first page for your brand query, you control what people see and what they don’t see about your company.
- Traffic control – own your query space and you monopolize all brand traffic.
Ways to Fortify Your Brand Query
Google sets a query limit on search results at two per hostname/domain, but alternative practices do exist for crowding the SERPs. Here's a list of brand query management methods that not only build on your existing domain but can also leverage the power of other domains to cement your page one, brand rankings.
Social media profiles can rank very high for brand queries because of their domain authority. Take our WordStream Twitter profile, for instance, which occupies the third position:
For the most part, these social media domains are so strong that they’ll eventually land on page one for your brand. If they don’t, build links to them. Given their strength, it may only require a handful of links to get them on page one for your brand query.
Strong social media domains to create profiles in:
- CrunchBase (for technology companies)
Also, you should engage in some proactive, brand protection and squat your company name in as many social sites as you can before someone else does. You can check the availability of your brand quickly in 120 social media sites at Knowem.com.
In your mission to control page one results, build a portfolio of subdomains and microsites around topics like "careers at your company" (careers.yourcompany.com), or "company media" (video.yourcompany.com), or "community outreach" (community.yourcompany.com).
The drawback with subdomains is you’re creating new sites that need content and links. That said, getting them to rank in a brand query shouldn’t be that difficult, given the site topic will be super-relevant to the query.
Good examples of brand subdomain use can be seen if you run queries for "Dell," "IBM" and "Home Depot."
If you don't already have a blog, get one. Blogging and continually pushing out new content not only helps with brand identity, but it's also a powerful brand query management tool. My experience is that blogs living in sub folders tend to rank second in the brand SERP hierarchy just below the primary domain, for example:
Brand Extension Domains
Another technique for brand query management is to buy additional, branded domains. Load them with brand-related content and build links to them from your own site. The SERPs treat them like separate sites, so given the brand relevancy, you have no trouble getting these domains to page one as well.
Mastercard offers a good example of brand extension domain strategy, with MastercardMerchant.com, MastercardBrandCeneter.com, MastercardOnline.com and Priceless.com, all on page one.
Squatting yourcompany.net and yourcompany.org are well-known, brand protection best practices, but what about brand-related domain names? Ask Home Depot if they wished they had the foresight to squat homedepotsucks.com, which occupies the sixth position on page one for the Home Depot query. Ouch!
Favorable Reviews & Articles
Reach out to influential bloggers and get them to talk about your company or product. A favorable review from an unbiased source is great for both brand identity and query management. If the reviewing domain isn't strong enough to make it to page one for your brand query, build links to it to help it up the SERPs. For instance, our product review from Search Engine Land still holds steady at #5 in the SERPs:
Issuing press releases and news alerts is a simple, effective, yet often overlooked way to crowd the SERPs. Many of these press releases have incredible sticking power and can hang around forever on page one.
Here we see that results from different press release websites populate four slots of our first page brand query (two from back in January):
Keep a Close Eye on Your Brand Query
Brand query management serves to promote the SERP results that strengthen your brand, while burying anything that can tarnish it. Having a myriad of page one results from different sources like press releases, microsites and blog entries demonstrates your brand's strength, scope and diversity. Be sure to monitor your brand query frequently to identify any possible insurgents. They come in all shapes and sizes, both paid and organic listings. With a strong query presence, any brand vultures or challengers that materialize will have a hard time knocking you off your throne.
What's the Next Step in Query Management?
Once you rule the SERPs for you brand query, turn your focus to discovering which search verticals you should target next. Our suite of advanced keyword tools can help you discover traffic and profit-driving keywords.