Organic search results on brand-name queries can influence the buying journey.
- A survey by Google in 2018 found that 53% of consumers research a product before buying. Online search is a primary research channel.
- The address bar of a browser often acts as a search box wherein shoppers type a company or brand name, scan the ensuing search results, and click on preferred listings. It’s more or less direct traffic going through Google.
However, brands have limited control over the appearance and ranking of those results. It’s analogous to not controlling what’s on your business card.
Brand-driven Search Results
Brand-driven search results on Google appear in multiple sections.
Advertisements. This is outside of search engine optimization, but bidding on your brand name in Google Ads is a good idea, especially for ecommerce companies. Holding the ad section and the top organic position will hopefully discourage searchers from scrolling to competitor listings.
Knowledge panels. Only searches for prominent brands tend to trigger Google’s knowledge panel. But smaller merchants can increase their chances by:
- Receiving an award or nomination that triggers a knowledge panel by itself. Google considers the awards “entities,”
- Having a Wikipedia page,
- Writing a book and marketing it through Amazon.
Organic snippets with sitelinks. For most brand searches, Google will attempt to find the official home page and generate sitelinks below it.
The exceptions include generic brand names (Google may not recognize a brand as an entity for a common term) and multiple businesses that share the same name.
Sitelinks often show up within the search snippet for the top result. There’s no way to control what Google shows as a sitelink other than deleting the page from your site or no-indexing it. In both cases, Google will remove that page from its index.
“People also ask” and “Related searches.” Google generates query-extension sections for brand-driven searches, which help users with further research:
- “People also ask” shows similar questions, often involving the brand or its competitors.
- “Related searches” are helpful to know what people search for when researching your brand.
Brands cannot eliminate these sections, but keep a close eye on them nonetheless. They provide clues as to what’s on consumers’ minds when considering your brand.
Carousels: Twitter, video, image. You don’t have to be a huge company to appear in carousels for your brand name, just have a presence on YouTube and Twitter (with your brand name for each) and have at least some images published online with your brand name as an anchor text.
Carousels help control branded search results. The downside, however, is carousels send visitors to those third-party platforms.
Google frequently changes its search engine result pages, and there’s no perfect solution to monitor the changes. The two I prefer, however, are Sitechecker and Visualping.
Sitechecker visualizes SERP movements over time, identifying what changed and when.
Visualping sends alerts on just about any search-result change. To enable, set up tracking for a URL, and Visualping will then notify you of changes.