How to boost search rankings for your company’s branded terms

You’re likely already familiar with optimizing your site for specific keywords. You may have a list of specific keywords and phrases you’re targeting, or you may be more in the “add amazing content and see what happens,” camp.

However, the idea of optimizing for branded keywords may not have crossed your radar. Branded terms are words or phrases that are specific to your company.

They often include your business name, but also may include certain trademarked product names or your website name.

For Apple, some examples of branded terms might be:

  • Apple
  • Apple Computers
  • Applecom
  • Apple dot com
  • Aple (a misspelled version)
  • Apple Phone

We want to rank for these branded terms because there are three main types of search queries: informational (e.g., looking for answers to a question), transactional (e.g., looking to make a purchase), and navigational (e.g., looking for a specific company).

People who fall into the third category are specifically looking for your business or website. If your site doesn’t show up in the first few spots in the SERPs, your competitors will be benefiting from these branded searches.

Fortunately, ranking for branded keywords isn’t fundamentally different than ranking for more generic keywords. Here are four tips for ranking for your own branded terms.

1. Build up citations.

While it’s obviously important to build up high-quality links to your site, non-linked mentions (“citations”) can be just as important, particularly for locally-based businesses.

When Google sees a website with many citations, it recognizes your website is an ongoing concern, active and current, and therefore worth being in the search results.

One of the best ways to build up these citations is to register your business with big data aggregators like Factual and Acxiom. Local search engines (including Google) license data from these aggregators to populate their own index with business-related data. So, if the data they have is inaccurate, your local search listings will also be inaccurate.

Other ways to gather citations include:

  • Getting your business listed in local directories
  • Getting mentions in local blogs
  • Getting listed in Yelp, Yellow Pages and Yahoo Local

If you’re currently being outranked for your own branded keywords by other local businesses, try a tool like the Local Citation Finder.

After plugging in your keywords, the tool will return a list of all the citation site listings for the top-ranking pages.

2. Keep your Google My Business listing up to date.

Considering the entire right-hand site of the SERPs is often dominated by Google maps and business listings, you’ll definitely want to make sure your business name is listed here.

You can enter or update your Google My Business listing here.

When adding or reviewing your listing, make the sure following elements are in place:

  • Make sure your business is properly categorized.
  • Ensure your NAP (name, address, phone number) are consistent with your other listings and citations.
  • Add relevant photos to jazz up your listing.
  • Include business hours and methods of payment.
  • Encourage customers or clients to leave reviews on your listing.

3. Optimize your social profiles for your brand name.

To dominate the first page of the SERPs for your brand name requires a number of different properties ranking for those phrases.

Rather than focusing all your efforts on optimizing your consulting business, share the love with your social media pages and profiles as well.

Make sure you’ve built up some solid citations in Yelp and other local directories. However, you’ll also want your social media properties to rank (preferably below your main company website).

The most important thing you can do to get your social media profiles and pages ranking for your branded keywords is to make sure your usernames and page names explicitly state the name of your business (no abbreviations or clever word plays).

You can also include your branded keywords within your social media bios and page descriptions.

Google+ was the social networking site of choice for SEO but I find Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Pinterest are far more valuable these days. While links from these sites may not carry value in terms of “link juice,” getting these profiles and pages to rank on the first page of the SERPs means more valuable search real estate for your brand.

4. Do on-site optimization of your branded keywords.

There’s no substitute for using your branded keywords in strategic locations around your site. This will mean using your business name, website name and trademarked product names in:

  • Your title tags. Use the first few words of your tags to describe your business (using your generic keywords), and include your brand name at the end of the tag.
  • Where relevant, use your brand name in your header tags, meta descriptions, alt image tags and URLs
  • Reference your business name in your website and blog content, where it fits naturally

Your blog is key to improving your organic branded keyword rankings. For example, our company manages a blog for webmasters and business owners that manage their own websites, which we do our best to optimize for. We regularly add useful, topical content that’s of interest to our audience.

Create blog posts and other types of content dedicated to discussing what it is your company does and who you are. We are constantly putting up information relating to the keywords we’re going after.

Within this content, include mentions of your brand name or other branded keywords. Due to semantic search, Google will begin to associate those branded keywords with the services and products you provide — even if you don’t explicitly make that connection within your content.

If you’re not ranking for your branded keywords, you could be losing all that valuable traffic to your competitors.

Using the four strategies above, you stand the best chance of ranking for your business or website name, and other branded keywords.