That’s right, what is the most reliable way for Google and Bing to determine which sites are gaining a reputation for what it is they do? Brand searches. It is the most reliable metric that cannot be reliably gamed even if you do set up Xenopost robots to start Googling your brand name. They can corroborate brand search data with other variables such as social signals and links.
Think about it – who would you rank out of the two sites:
Site A has 100,000 searches per month on Site A’s brand name and product lines yet only has links from 100 sites coming in.
Site B has 1,000 searches per month on Site B’s domain name and has links from over 100,000 sites.
All things being equal, I would have to pick the latter. Google is likely to be interested in the traffic you’re getting that it doesn’t know about whether it’s via email, offline initiatives such as magazines, newspapers or simply mentions on sites which have traffic from target audiences.
A note on PR to the SEO industry
The PR industry does not link out to brands, if anything links are used very sparingly. From a PR point of view, a link is only given if it is advertorial or competition based. As PR professionals are quick to remind clients, a link cannot be insisted upon to the features editor – in other words it’s in the lap of the Gods. Given the agressive moves by Google to start cleaning out the link graph which may be addressed in Penguin 2.0, it would not surprise me if press releases with embedded links were the next targeted tactic to be devalued.
So if your PR agency doesn’t link your brand name to your website. Don’t get mad, be happy about it. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not to be frowned upon. If anything, you should be checking that:
a. it went to the Press Association
b. the press release was interesting enough for feature editors to pick it up
c. the PR agency did the leg work (known as media relations) to use their editorial relationships to get the press release taken up and converted into coverage for your brand.
So the KPI has to be amount of coverage earned. Of course, it all depends on what you give PR agencies to work with in the first place. They are the proverbial loudspeaker so to speak, but your business has to have something original and interesting to say. That’s where data analysts and research comes in. Statistics from in house data, if you don’t want to spend money on expensive commissioned surveys is a great way of generating newsworthy content.
And that is what the search engines are after – companies that have something of substance to say. The chances are if you have data, you have something to share. And something to share gives you bragging rights in social media which earns you a growing reputation and gets you mentioned.
Mentions drive brand searches and earns our good old favourite links. Does that mean link building is dead? Far from it. The viral graph does not follow the neat tree of knowledge that we set and design for our clients when organising client content. Thus, as SEOs we are responsible for organising this offsite, but we must do this responsibly putting user experience at the very top.
All this doesn’t very new, in fact it isn’t – the search engines are just getting more efficient at maintaining the way we do things. That’s why corporate SEOs makes SEO agencies or in house SEO look good. A bit of link building benefits from the client brand’s Halo effect.
For those of us that don’t have the budgets of TV and Radio advertising, requires SOPR from the ground up. And that is the future for start ups in todays world if they want to make it in today’s and tomorrow’s search engines where brand searches matter more than ever.