:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::
Brand signals are a hot topic right now and considered to be one of the best ways to make your business soar online – but only if you know how to use them properly.
Some believe this technique is so good that it provides better results than the traditional marketing techniques including link building or content marketing. Others, however, argue that brand signals are essentially bonus points to existing SEO marketing systems, a stance that I agree with. By focusing on brand signals in conjunction with other marketing techniques, you will be putting that added punch into your website and business.
What are Brand Signals?
Before covering all the benefits of brand signals and how you can use them, it’s important to first define exactly what they are. Brand signals are essential to your reputation. They are an asset that speaks of your credibility in the market. Brand signals answer the question: how do your clients view your business?
Measuring Brand Signals
Brand signals used to be an intangible asset – but the increasing attention given to them has led a pretty accurate measurement system. In fact, search engines today are pretty good with measuring brand signals and factoring them into how well a website ranks. For the most part, brand signals can be categorized into different types of credibility, each one needing sufficient attention to create brand signals that people will look for. Here are the main subcategories of brand signals:
This talks about the frequency of how people look for your brand on the Internet. Excellent brands are searched for by name rather than by product. For example, people looking for basketball shoes will generally search, “best basketball shoes.” A business with excellent brand signals however may type the name of brand itself, “Air Jordan basketball shoes.” Since Air Jordan already has strong brand signals when it comes to the sport shoe market, Google would prefer to show the official site to users assuming it would provide them with the best user experience.
Social credibility refers to platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Basically, the question you want answered here is: how visible are you on the social media platform? Search engines also take into account how loudly your brand is being talked about. Visibility doesn’t just include how often you post on your page but rather how many people follow you, how many talk about you, how many likes you get and how many others are discussing and engaging with your brand.
Content credibility has been around ever since content marketing became a popular technique online. The quality of your content and its share-ability are two important elements to consider. Are people compelled to share your content by either posting it in their social page or linking to it in their own blogs? Good content adds trustworthiness and value to your brand while gaining valuable backlinks to a site.
It’s not often mentioned, but take note that service credibility also plays a huge factor in brand signals. This essentially refers to how you treat your clients or customer service. Many brands have made quite a reputation with their customer service while big brands can lose a lot of ground because their service is far from welcoming. This can be reflected in reviews around the Web and in the sentiment of discussions people have about your brand.
Identifying and Measuring
Now that you are aware of the different types of credibility, it’s time to find out exactly how it can be identified, analyzed and measured. There are different ways to check your brand status and it’s advisable to do them all, just to cover all bases – especially if you’re just starting with this particular system.
Google Search Console
Google is the ultimate tool when it comes to brand visibility. Once you’ve visited the Console, check out the Traffic and Search Analytics page for the platforms. There are also the Impressions and CTR, all of which will help you measure and interpret where you stand when it comes to brand signals. Branded rankings should at least be in the first page and you should receive a good amount of traffic from branded search. Now the question is – how many is enough? Comparing your website with competitors is usually the best place to start, giving you an idea of the numbers you’ll have to aim for.
Social Platform Check
Next up, you should take a good look at your social buzz. Social media marketing has been pretty popular for the past several years so if you’ve invested in this type of marketing, you should see considerable results. First off, check the different platforms you’re already a member of. Basic ones include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and the like. Basically, if you think your target market has a large membership in a particular platform, you should definitely create an account there.
Note though that when it comes to social buzz, quality is better than quantity. You may be a member of a dozen or so platforms, but unless you can keep those updated at all times, there’s really not much point having them all. Only open accounts in platforms you know you can constantly keep up-to-date. From there on out, stay active in the platform by posting often and strategically, sharing valuable information, and generally making an impression among followers. You can check out BuzzSumo to further help you with this.
It’s also a good idea to perform social listening. This helps you find out what influencers mention your brand and therefore contribute to your brand signals. Moz has a great tool for finding unlinked mentions of your brand and Google Alerts is another easy wait to be notified when you brand is being discussed online.
Of course, don’t forget to check what other people are saying about your brand in the form of reviews. Again, quality is what’s important here. It doesn’t matter if you have 100-plus reviews, if more than 50 percent of them are bad, that won’t bode well for your business. This is especially true for service companies such as restaurants, hotels, contractors and the like. Now, there are several ways you can assess customer reviews and those include: Foursquare, Google +, Urban Spoon and countless others. When first starting, try to pick the platform that most of your target market is likely to be on, it will make leaving reviews less of a hassle for them.
Gaining Greater Brand Recognition
Now that you’re fully aware of how analyze your brand signals, how can you improve them so that you will become better known in your market? Here are some simple steps to increasing brand awareness online.
Securing Your Brand Name
This essentially means making sure that your brand name is yours alone. It’s tough to make your brand signals stand out if there are two or more brand names out there. Worse, what if someone else already has the brand name you want? This is why once you’ve managed to settle on a brand name, you should make sure that you own the account name in different platforms. For example, if your brand name is Website Magazine, your Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram and blog site should all be under this name. Other primary platforms you’d want to be part in include: Google+, LinkedIn and Blogger.
It is also important to make your services known to the smaller market or the specific niche. For example, if you’re in real estate – you might should register on realty sites. If you’re a restaurant, you’d want to be part of UrbanSpoon and if you’re in travel, you better make an account in Trip Advisory. Simply search “your service” + submit site and you can find several niche specific places to list your brand.
Populate Your Account
There’s no point having a Facebook page if you don’t have any followers so the next step is to fill your page with people who are likely to make use of your services in the future. Ideally, you should start with the people you already have or past clients you’ve managed to track down. Send them a request and start building from there. It also helps to make sure that all your social media pages contain links to other media platforms in use as well. For example, your blog should encourage people to add your Twitter account or your Facebook Account.
Get Some Help
Programs like HootSuite and Sprout Social post and update your status according to a schedule you create. This allows you to schedule information for several days or weeks without being overly time consuming. Make sure that you do check in regularly though to interact with your followers and comment on related profiles or pages.
So what specifically should you do in order to build brand signals? Here are a few simple but effective steps you should take:
• Write PDFs, create PowerPoint presentations or even clips that lead back to your website.
• Share your blog posts and the blog posts of others.
• Interlink your social profiles.
• Stay up to date, if there’s anything new in your niche – make sure you’re there to report or talk about it.
• Respond to your visitors!
Generally speaking, the more people know about you – the better are your chances of gaining their trust and subsequently, boosting your brand standing. Technical information includes your address, your phone number, your email address and even the name of the proprietor if you’re up to it. Make sure those information are available in ALL your accounts online. Also, take the time to build a logo that represents your brand. Have a professional do it if possible so that you’d be left with an aesthetically pleasing and easily-remembered image that conveys the message you want. Make sure this logo is visible in all your platforms.
Traffic, Sales and Profit
In the end, all your effort toward improving brand signals should become obvious through your traffic, sales and profit. Establishing and improving brand signals is not something you can do overnight but it is a worthwhile addition to your current marketing strategies.
An excellent reputation is good advertising in itself and with that on your side, your business should thrive as a result.
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Marion, IL. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz