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Managing Your Brand To Perform In Universal Search Results
Achieving and sustaining top ranking visibility for your brand on important organic terms is increasingly getting tougher. This is because natural text listings no longer rule on the search result page. There are many other elements that appear sometimes ahead of or intertwined with the natural results, including local listings with a map, shopping listings, latest news, top blogs, images, videos and even book reviews can appear. Google calls these mixed result types Universal search; others call it blended search. These other elements can push what were once top performing organic listings into second or third page positions.
Consider these keyword examples:
“Desktop computers”. The natural listings are intertwined with three shopping listings. If you want your brand to show in the number one spot, you have to compete with the shopping listings that will appear above you.
“Pizza delivery”. Three natural listings on top, followed by seven map listings. If you are a pizza shop showing 4th in natural results, you are below the fold.
“Refrigerator deals”. You’ll see a forum with a description and four forum listings intertwined in the SERPs before you even get to the organic listings.
“Ghost”. If you’re looking for a product named with a word with multiple meanings, such as “ghost,” you may find several videos and image listings beating you out.
Just as SEO has finally become a commonplace tactic in the online search marketing mix, we now find that the evolution of the layout of the SERP requires a new approach. As brand marketers, we need to re-think our strategy for how to achieve top visibility for our brand on our major terms on the free SERPs.
I think of this as a new opportunity to be found in a growing class of page elements. Here are four new things that you need to do to accomplish top visibility for your brand using the page elements to your advantage:
Determine your true rank. To determine your true page rank, look at the page layout of the actual page for each of your important keywords—the terms where you need your brand to be identified at the top. Natural ranking reporting tools will not provide you with this information. You will need to study the actual SERP by either running searches by hand or by deploying an organic monitoring tool that offers true page ranking. Identify the order in which your page(s) appear in the overall page ranks. Your page order will be impacted by the other elements that exist on the page. For example, if you are #1 in the natural listings, but there is a map ahead of you with seven listings on it, than you are in position #8 on the page—not #1.
Design a strategy based on the elements that are topping you. Once you identify the page elements that are essentially topping you on a result page, you are ready to develop new strategies. For example:
- If there is a map above you, then you will need to combine a local strategy along with your natural SEO to regain your top position on the page.
- If there are shopping listings ahead of you or surrounding your listings, you may find that you are not in the mix. To gain strength here you will need to determine how the shopping listings achieve top rank on specific phrases, and tailor a comparison shopping engine strategy. Sometimes this can be as simple as a willingness to pay more, or may be more complicated and relevancy or popularity driven.
- If there are video or image listings beating you out, you need to add an image/ video SEO strategy to your game plan. This should include uploading your own brand-oriented videos to YouTube.
- If there are blogs on the page and you are not a major mention, you need to gear up your social media strategy.
Constantly monitor the effectiveness of your strategy. Non-text universal search results sometimes can impact rank faster than traditional SEO. For example, in the case of time-sensitive elements like news or blogs, up-to-date fresh information may beat you out. For this reason, you need to monitor true rankings more often than you do for “regular” SEO. I suggest that you monitor your rankings daily, but if this is too overwhelming, try once a week.
Don’t forget geotargeting. You should engage in this exercise for each of the major markets where you generate leads or sales because the page layout can change depending on the searcher’s market.
With the holiday season upon us, now is the time to engage in this new strategy for your most important keywords—the terms where your brand had better appear on page one of search results.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.