25 April 2017 | James Jezusek

Is ‘brand’ the only future ranking signal for SEO?

Since the ‘Vince’ algorithm update in February 2009, Google has continued to increase the importance of ‘brand’, or ‘brand as a trust signal’, as a ranking factor. As we look to the future, will ‘brand’ become more powerful, or could it even become the only ranking factor for SEO?

There are currently a number of branded signals that make up the estimated 200-part Google algorithm, from non-hyperlinked brand mentions (Co-Citations), to brand plus searches, (searches carried out with your brand name and associated service or product, ie. ‘Tamar SEO’ or ‘Tamar digital agency’).

Even since 2008, when Google started rolling out auto suggest, it often suggests brands when typing a generic search query.

It’s clear that focusing on brand building and establishing your brand on Google can return dividends in terms of increased rankings and increased user trust, but as we look to the future, could it be even more important? With price-based purchasing becoming a lesser driver of decision making after the influx of comparison based websites in the late 2000’s, more clicks going to the top three results in the SERPs, and personal assistant devices such as Google’s home device making decisions for us, how can we become the recognised or preferred brand for our product or service offering?

Branded search results

Firstly, crafting a dominant presence in the SERPs, utilising the knowledge graph and rich snippet markup will help Google identify you as a brand, and all of your associated branded channels, such as Social Media entities and related images or media. This not only helps Google understand your focus on creating a brand, but also provides the user with a multitude of ways to interact with your brand, and gives you the opportunity to create a positive first impression.

Craft memorable content

People will forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. This quote attributed to Maya Angelou rings true with creating memorable brand experiences using content. Focusing on the person behind the ‘user’, to create content that evokes an emotional response, that aligns with your brand, whether that be empowerment, happiness or aspiration, is a powerful way to increase positive association with your brand, (and it’s great for links!).

Utilise other channels

Stepping away slightly from SEO. Leveraging other channels such as PR is a great way to build your brand authority and increase brand plus search queries. A truly aligned digital and offline strategy will return the greatest results, with all channels driving towards the same goals of getting more people thinking, talking and searching for your brand and what your brand does.

The fundamental aspects of SEO will stay relevant, a good, technically sound and audience appropriate website will always be important and is so now more than ever. Many brands still fall down at this hurdle and don’t rank because if it. However, with user behaviour shifts, new hardware entering the mainstream space, and Google’s algorithm continually pushing towards more human assessment of search behaviour, ‘brand’ will continue to rise as an important factor in establishing trust with both search engines and users.

Are you fully optimising your brand? Do you need help implementing structured data markup or creating awesome content? The experts at Tamar are here to help, just get in touch!

James Jezusek

James Jezusek

Head of SEO at Tamar.