By Eric Pangburn – Web Success Team Contributor
As many web-savvy bloggers know, Google and the other major search engines regularly make changes to the way that web pages are ranked. This has resulted in a fair amount of confusion as you may have imagined, with many website owners being unaware of which way to go next, it seems that no sooner has your SEO efforts gotten you positive results before the rules of the game are changed yet again.
The Changing Face Of Website Ranking
This issue comes into marked prominence nowadays with Google’s recent move to place more focus on branded searches. This shift actually has its beginnings in 2003, when Google issued the Florida update, which radically leveled the playing field as far as SEO was concerned. Many websites that had previously enjoyed high rankings were suddenly nowhere to be found, and many site owners were understandably more than a little upset. It was later revealed that the changes affected websites that had repetitious inbound anchor text with little to no diversity and used keywords phrases too often, among other characteristics.
The Importance Of Protecting Your Brand
This update was probably the first time that that SEO was complicated enough to render most people unaware of how to use it. In previous years, it was enough to buy or trade links, and include your keyword in the anchor text. Do this often enough, and you could get a pretty favorable ranking.
With Google shift towards more brand-oriented search ranking criteria however, it becomes even more imperative to view your branding in a different light. As Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt puts it, effective branding can help a website win the confidence of their customers, and give these customers a clear sign that the website’s content can be trusted. This is particularly important given the huge number of different websites out there, not all of which can be relied on to provide quality content.
Ways By Which You Can Protect Your Brand
There are a number of ways by which you can protect your brand. Some of the more common–and effective–ones are described below.
Brand your blog with a unique company identity
A blog is one of the most powerful tools at anyone’s disposal. Rather than go into the many reasons why a blog can be useful–information you can find from numerous other websites–suffice it to say that if you don’t have a blog, get one ASAP!
After you have gotten your blog up and running, the next step is to optimize it with branded keywords. This will help you with the next step…
Utilize the power of branded social media pages to interact with your visitors
After you have made the effort to dot your website with branded keywords, you will want to put all that effort to good use. One of the best ways to do that is by frequenting social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and finding out how much of a buzz your website is causing. If it isn’t causing the ruckus that you want, maybe you could go ahead and initiate conversation yourself. Join in on any existing conversations about your brand or start up some yourself. If you do come across some criticism or even downright hostility, strive to maintain a cordial and professional online demeanor.
Trademark your brand name
Failing to trademark your brand name can result in a number of difficulties, one of which is the possibility that other websites will benefit from your brand. You may find that several websites may actually use variations on your branded keywords, causing your potential customers to end up in other sites instead of yours! Without a trademark to rely on, you are essentially at the mercy of your competitors, and will have to ask them to remove those branded keywords from their sites manually; a process that can take up to a few weeks.
Buy up any domain names related to your brand
After you have settled on a good domain name that you are comfortable sticking with for the long term, it would be a good idea to buy up as many variations of the domain name as you can, including any possible misspellings. This will help prevent other websites from cashing in on your site’s popularity, and at the same time help ensure that visitors that misspell your domain name in the URL boxes of their browsers still end up at your site.
Just like in the real world, credentials often count for something, and the best way to lend your website an air of credibility is by securing a certificate from a reputable governing body such as the Better Business Bureau, This will go a long way in inspiring customer confidence in your site.
Protect your reputation
Your reputation is one of the most effective means by which you can ensure a steady stream of visitors, and since visitors are the lifeblood of any website, you will want to make sure to protect your reputation at all costs. Remember that the better your reputation is, the longer you can stay in business. Keep your site up and running for a long time, and you greatly increase your chances of pulling in the numbers.
Practice only white hat SEO techniques
In the quest to achieve a higher ranking on the major search engines, a number of website owners and SEO “experts” routinely resort to “Black Hat” SEO techniques. These techniques typically involve flooding their pages with keywords without much relevant content to back it up, or hosting too many irrelevant links. While such techniques may get you a higher ranking in the short term, they will likely backfire on you as Google catches wind of your tricks. Stick to white hat techniques for all your SEO efforts, and you avoid the risk of being penalized–and even banned–by Google and the other major search engines.
Use links and affiliate ads wisely
Links and affiliate ads are essential components of any SEO campaign, although it is important to make sure that they are used properly. It may be a good idea to set up a redirect mechanism as well as to implement other techniques that will not only make your website more attractive to the major search engines, but to your readers as well. Keep in mind that this technique can be quite tricky, so you will want to check everything carefully whenever you make any changes.
As you can see, branding and how it relates to Google brings with it many concerns. Although previously unheard of, the many changes wrought by Google have necessitated a shift in the way that branding should be viewed. Stay on top of these changes, and you may be able to get branding to work for you.