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Brand SEO: Tips for building equity off-site

13 April 2010 BY

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We’ve all heard how important it is to “own your page one” and “lock out your brand SERP” and suchlike. I am a big believer in brand SEO myself, as from my perspective the plus-sides are not just limited to the ability to dominate a few pages of Google for a search on your brand name. Numerous additional benefits can be had, from the SEO benefits of citation/link matrix – to the traditional marketing benefits of brand and message ownership; most are pretty simple to achieve…

1. Register your brand account on social media sites

2. Add some content

3. Distribute some content

Which is easy to say if your brand name is pretty distinctive!

On the other hand – if you are trying to “brand-SEO” for a fairly non-descript brand name, or an affiliate review site in a highly competitive sector, then you may need to look at building equity in your off-site inventory to avoid having similar brands, competitors or (on occasion), your own affiliates; giving you a brand-term beat-down in the SERPS.

Before considering a couple of ways to build your off-site equity, one of the foundation principles of brand SEO is to make sure you get your brand name right, everywhere you register it. I know that sounds a bit obvious, but I’ve personally done many social inventory audits when a brand name has appeared in numerous variations. Once the basics are in place here are a couple of ways to build equity in your off-site assets.

(Tip: We have found http://knowem.com to be a useful profile registration tool. Do be prepared to sit and authorise a few hundred “confirm” emails though. )

1. Take an audit of all of your brand/social profiles noting PageRank of the profile page as well. If you do have quite a number of genuine assets, you may just want to limit this exercise to top 50 by volume and audience demographic.

2. Check out your brand SERP, noting any gaps in the early pages and use your own judgement as to how many listings you currently own, and how many you could potentially own with a bit of work.

3. Strengthen off-site assets by building your citation matrix. E.g. ensure that any available field to reference an off-site URL is utilised, such as the “Websites” field in linkedin. It goes without saying that your most important social profiles should be clearly promoted on your own site too.

4. Use “followed” profile sources and directories such as Crunchbase, AboutUS.org and Technorati to develop some foundation follow links to your blogs and other social assets.

(Tip: Aboutus.org profile page external links are nofollowed by default, but if you take ownership of your page, flesh it out and then pop into their chat/help room and ask them nicely; they will “ProFollow” your links for you.)

5. Make your Flickr images available under the terms of the creative commons and let external attributions work to build your profile page equity for you.

6. Look at which of your social profiles could use a boost and create some kick-ass viral content  originally for that medium. Now with social sharing sites this isn’t a one dimensional exercise, i.e. it isn’t purely a linkbait exercise. Sites such as YouTube and slideshare allow users to embed publicly available content onto their own sites (served from origin) – therefore moving into the realms of virality. Obviously a bit difficult to legislate for at the outset, but such content should first and foremost be visually compelling, entertaining and worthy of reference. A perfect example of such content would be “How To Do SEO Link building – Illustrated by Cute Puppies“,  by SiteVisibility’s Kelvin Newman.

7. Old rules still apply!

Of course, as is true for building equity in pages on a website; the foundation principles of age, content, links, citations all still apply here. Again another good reason to register as many  of your brand profiles as you can (from a reputation management point of view), and then build out as many profiles as makes business sense, looking at the best volume and demographic fit.

One final point about building your off-site equity (or perhaps we could call this social asset optimisation), it really helps to have a clear objective for participation in each medium, that is specific to the functionality of that medium.

AUTHORED BY:
h

Nichola Stott is owner and co-founder of theMediaFlow; online revenue optimisation and audience services (including SEO, SEM and SMM). Prior to founding theMediaFlow, Nichola spent four years at Yahoo! as head of UK commercial search partners.
  • http://www.basvandenbeld.com Bas van den Beld

    Great stuff again Nichola, so glad to have you on board ;).

    I totally agree with you, especially on the part of the variations, but here’s a challenge for you, maybe you (or another reader) can help me out. At State Of Search we don’t have the Twitter account @stateofsearch, because it was taken already, but by someone who is not using it and not in the industry. We tried to reach her but got no response and Twitter is not that helpful in these situations. So we decided to go for an alternative name.

    Any suggestions?

    • http://uk.linkedin.com/in/simoncullum Simon C

      Hi Bas

      I recently had the same scenario RE. trying to get hold of a Twitter name, identical circumstances.

      Twitter were really helpful once we’d completed the Trademark form at http://support.twitter.com/forms/trademark [http://support.twitter.com/forms/trademark]

      All we had to do was to show that we owned the trademark related to the Twitter name and it was then handed over to us.

      Worth a try (or another try if you have already). Demonstrating ownership of the Trademark is key.

      Kind regards

      Simon

  • http://twitter.com/jaamit jaamit

    Good stuff Nichola – goes beyond the usual tips of “create profiles” or “build subdomains” to actually building the authority of these to get them to rank – it’s by no means guaranteed for a lot of brands.

    This is now on Sphinn if you fancy giving it a whirl: http://sphinn.com/story/147173

  • http://www.themediaflow.com Nichola Stott

    Hi Bas,

    For the purposes of this exercise, not having the profile name, therefore URL exactly as your brand name isn’t such a big deal. In terms of correct citation references the brand name (the name used in the “Name” field on the profile) is State of Search, plus all the other authority signals are in place – such as the hundreds of external links pointing to your profile URL, many of which are using “State of Search” or “State of Search on Twitter” as the anchor text. In fact the profile page already has a PR of 5, and considering such factors combined, means that when I do a brand search for “state of search” the twitter profile appears on the first page for me.

    I’d be interested to know what position this appears in for others as of course I interact with “State of Search” brand properties including twitter and the site, so it would be interesting to know if there is a personalised search effect at play. It’s in position 6 for me.

    Let’s have a session on the bloggers’ tips wiki as to how we can knock out the rest using slideshare the facebook page and a few other little gems ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/PrachiDeshpande Prachi D

    Great article Nichola. Really informative.

  • http://www.firstfound-blog.co.uk Andy

    Cracking tips there Nichola, you raise some great points. No idea how I’ve missed State Of Search before – I’ll be sure to check back!

  • http://www.greatwebsitesblog.com Barry Adams

    You know you’re reading a great post when, out of 5 links in the whole post, you end up bookmarking 3, and immediately get started with tips mentioned in the post. :)

  • http://www.themediaflow.com Nichola Stott

    @Prachi – thanks for your comments. I’m really pleased you found it useful.

    @Andy – Glad I managed to get State of Search on your agenda. I am the very least of an extremely knowledgable and experienced team of bloggers/practitioners.

    @Barry – to know that you are investigation and implementing some of the tips mentioned here makes it even more worth the while!

  • http://www.firstfound-blog.co.uk Andy

    If you’re the least knowledgable, then there must be some absolute geniuses writing here. I’ll add it to my RSS Feed straight away!

  • http://www.greatwebsitesblog.com Barry Adams

    @Andy, please take that comment from Nichola with a grain of salt. Her posts here are consistently among the best, most tweeted, and most commented. :)

  • http://www.pricebonus.com/ Michelle

    @Andy, please take that comment from Nichola with a grain of salt. Her posts here are consistently among the best, most tweeted, and most commented. :)

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  • http://www.seoclock.co.uk SEO Sheffield

    Excellent viewpoint- we have always seen external website profiles as a key way of creating better brand exposure, improving chances of backlinks and also blocking competition from taking popular keyphrases that you target. We immediately try to close out the name of the company and the main target phrase on profiles, and have great success with it [long term].

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