In SEO, there’s been years of talking about how to own your brand SERP and how to ensure that you get that quality Named Entity Recognition from Google…. But stop for a minute. How often do you actually just search the name of a bricks and mortar store or a brand?
Typically, a consumer is looking for specific information about that store when they head online to search, for ease they might Google their query instead of clicking through the site to find the hidden away info. This means that brand-related queries are becoming more and more conversational and brands must look to provide direct access to this information via the SERPs.
So, what are the common informational queries for brands and how do you win them?
Most commonly when a consumer is considering purchasing from a brand, a key factor is the price. For standard e-commerce products, this is relatively straightforward to understand how much an item costs. However, as you move into scaled pricing models and software, this can be much harder to convey. If you don’t have a clearly defined ‘Pricing’ section on the site that provides the answers consumers are looking for, it is likely they’ll head to Google to search for this information themselves.
Search: [Brand] + Pricing
To own this type of search for your brand is simple:
- Ensure you have a pricing page with strong internal links and clear page title
- Make content on the pricing page clear; with markup on the different pricing models and the information users are looking for
An example of a brand really owning this space, despite a slightly more complex pricing model is Dropbox:
However, click into the ‘People also ask’ and Dropbox only own one of those four key answers. This shows the importance of not just hitting the basic query of “[Brand] Pricing” but also looking to more conversational, long tail variations of the question.
Search: “How much does [Brand] cost per month?”
As we now know it’s key to rank for these long tail queries, there are a few SEO techniques that will help:
- Maintain a list of questions from consumers on pricing, and the ‘People also ask’ section of Google to ensure your page answers all of these
- Structure your headings in question format looking at the different models available and the common queries you have coming in from users
- Keep content clear and concise so that it can give answers in just a couple of sentences
When users are in the consideration phase of their purchase, they may decide to look into the reliability of the product or the brand to understand if they’re making the best decision. This means reading the reviews left by other customers. Whilst you can’t control the content written by your customers, you can influence the way it appears in the search results and which content is seen first.
For example; this is the SERP for ‘iPhone reviews’
The only brand selling an iPhone here is Macworld UK – rather than seeing reviews from the Apple site or other retailers. Macworld has the power to ensure that the best reviews appear at the top of their page, and recommending the higher value products in their iPhone buying guide too. They could have also used Schema markup like CNET to make their result stand out even more in the search results.
Once the consumer has read a quality review on a site like Macworld, it means if they do decide to purchase, the consumer already has an affinity with that brand and is more likely to trust it for their purchase. This is an automatic advantage for Macworld, compared to all other retailers who are selling an iPhone.
Every business has competitors, and it can be tough to decide if you acknowledge them in your messaging or not. Frequently, consumers will weigh up brands against one another before making their purchase decision – so this is simply an area online which you can’t ignore.
Take a look at the search results for looking at the differences between iPhone and Android phones:
The answer box here is owned by Business Insider, as are most of the answers to the ‘People also ask’ queries. Similar to the other queries we’ve seen, there are very few retailers which appear on the first page of this result. By including a comparison of the two products on a business’ site, it will set yourself up to gain brand awareness with these consumers before they get to the purchase stage.
To make the most of this opportunity, the key is to provide consumers with full transparency. By providing the honest comparison between the alternative products available, it will allow consumers to get the information they require and build their relationship with your brand.
Special Opening Hours
For a bricks and mortar store; searching for opening hours is going to be relatively common. For a typical business, the opening hours will be in either the map result of the Google My Business page so this is a pretty simple win. However, what happens for special occasions and holidays?
As it’s such a time-sensitive piece, Google allows news boxes (and AMP on mobile) to display on this query.
On that basis; stores could be using this technology fairly simply to appear in these results and own their own brand listings. This provides more control for brands and keeps consumers looking for their business on their site, rather than being subject to the control of news sites. This would have been particularly helpful in this case for a business like Sainsburys, where the first news result used an image of a competitor brand and the ranking article provided all opening times of their competitors also – potentially leading customers to visit these stores instead.
TL;DR – Give the customers what they want
So what do all these examples have in common? They are all about customer experience. Google’s search results are find faster ways to give consumers the information they want directly in the SERP. Brands can miss out if they don’t control this information, and aren’t seen as the best source of information to Google. Gone are the days when brands can rely on loyalty bringing consumers to scroll through their sites for the information, and now they must adapt to providing the details in the format suitable for Google and consumers.
These are some of the quickest wins a business could make online; this is information which you have readily available about your brand, so all it takes is structuring your site and making it readily available to both crawlers and users visiting the site. There’s a push amongst many brands to build extra customer service tools like chatbots – which can help brands gather the information needed and get insight into the longer tail questions consumers want answered. The most important thing is to not forget the basics in SEO whilst collecting this information. Don’t just plug it into a chatbot, hit the SEO elements by including it on-page and with structured markup to get the maximum benefit.
By formatting the information to gain knowledge graph results, and provide the information that appears directly in the SERP, brands can still gain a connection to their consumers – despite the reduction in clicks through to the sites. This immediate interaction is much more conversational, based on how consumers search, rather than them passively reading a business’ website. Adapt now to truly own your brand’s long tail search.