The branded Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is often overlooked as many brands just assume they will be ranking well for their own brand name. However, ranking in position one for your brand name on Google should not be taken as given, and as the majority of traffic to your site will often come through branded searches it’s important that you pay special attention to brand SERP SEO. There are a number of challenges you might face in ranking at the top of the SERP for your branded terms. It might be that you are a new brand and your site is new or that you’ve just rebranded; so your domain lacks authority to Google. Perhaps you have competition from other brands with the same name. This is a problem we’ve faced many times: the SERP may be dominated by another brand with the same name, making it difficult to rank for your branded keywords. We’d always recommend seeking support from a digital agency as early in your business journey as possible to mitigate any risk of competition. Maybe you are ranking well for your branded keywords; however, even if you look dominant within the SERP for your branded terms, there is always room for improvement.

What do we mean when we say brand SERP?

The main elements of your brand SERP include:
  • Your own website
  • Your social media profiles
  • Your Wikipedia page
  • Google My Business and Knowledge panels
  • Press coverage of your brand
  • External reviews (such as Feefo or Trustpilot)

Elements that do not constitute your brand SERP:
  • Competitors - these can be your competitors within the industry or brands that share the same name as you.
  • Stockists of your products
  • Directories

What does your brand SERP look like?

In order to establish how you are performing for your branded keywords it’s important to audit and analyse the above elements. A dominant brand SERP is one that shows your brand within 6 or 7 of the top 10 results. Optimising your brand SERP is critical to ensuring your brand image demonstrates authority and trust. So, let’s now talk about brand SERP SEO strategy.

Creating a strong backlink profile will help to boost your rankings in the SERPs for your brand and non brand keywords.

The key areas to focus on to improve your brand SERP include:

Backlinks

Your strategy should be centred around improving your authority and providing signals to Google that you are a trustworthy brand. Often brands performing well in the SERPs have strong backlink profiles. Backlinks, or inbound links, are a vital component of SEO as they essentially represent a ‘vote of confidence’ to Google from one site to another. Backlinks are often gained naturally when a site mentions your brand but we also recommend a digital PR strategy to amplify your online presence and generate high-quality backlinks. Creating a strong backlink profile will help to boost your rankings in the SERPs for brand and non brand keywords. Additionally, a backlink profile that rivals your brand name competitors will increase your chances of moving up the SERP if you are struggling to outrank other brands. In order to best maximise the value of the backlinks and coverage your brand receives, we advise setting up a press section on your site. Coverage from authoritative sources should be linked to from this page. This will build your own external linking profile, which is also a ranking factor. Additionally, it is possible that Google may be showing articles with negative sentiment within your brand SERP. A press section on your site with links to positive coverage may help to push articles with a negative sentiment further down the SERP.

Social media and reviews

Social media profiles can be a valuable asset for SEO; as when these profiles are ranking toward the top of the SERP for brand related terms, they are taking up valuable space where competitors could be ranking instead. We recommend creating, optimising and enhancing all social media profiles and linking to your accounts from your site, either in the header or footer, to have the best chance of these ranking in your branded search results. . Posting regularly across all platforms also increases the likelihood that your social media accounts will appear at the top of your branded SERP, as Google values fresh content. Many brands have an external review site; such as Feefo or Trustpilot, to collect customer feedback and often these pages will rank within the branded SERP. External review platforms can be easily integrated with many website hosting platforms which should encourage customer feedback. While a strong review page featuring on your branded SERP can be beneficial for conversion rate, it is important to assess any negative reviews. If negative reviews outweigh those with positive sentiment, we recommend attempting to push the external review page further down the SERP. Optimised social media profiles that are regularly updated with fresh content can be used as a means to do this.

Structured Data

Structured data is code that can be implemented on your site to communicate to Google who you are or what your content is about. Structured data could include your name, your social media accounts, your logo and any external, third party sites where you have a profile (e.g. Wikipedia, Crunchbase). Google will often use structured data to enhance a user’s experience when searching for a branded term by showing it in the search results, often in the form of a knowledge panel, like the one to the right. When auditing a client’s performance for branded keywords, we always explore how to make the site richer using structured data. Effective structured company data can increase a brand’s chance of dominating their branded SERP if Google chooses to create a rich snippet about your company.

Paid Search & Branded Keywords

When auditing your brand SERP, it is important to consider the paid Google ads that will appear above any organic listings. As bidding on your branded terms is often a way to ensure you are at the top of the SERP for these keywords we often recommend this if you have direct competition from other brands that share the same name. The example to the left shows how the brand mio have navigated the SERP by bidding on their branded keyword. Being a relatively new business with a niche service, without bidding activity on this keyword, they struggle to rank on the first page of the SERP. Therefore, this strategy will undoubtedly increase CTR for their branded term.

However, it is not always advisable to bid on your branded term as it can lead to wasted advertising spend. The example below shows the SERP for SEMrush. They are bidding on their branded keyword yet they are ranking organically in position one and Google is showing a knowledge panel. In this instance, bidding on a brand name is most likely wasted ad spend as there is no obvious benefit of doing so.

A summary of the key takeaways

  • Brand SEO should not be neglected as part of your SEO strategy as it is common for the majority of your traffic to be coming from branded search terms
  • Your brand SEO strategy should centre around establishing authority and trust to both Google and your customers
  • Digital PR, social media, paid search and technical SEO services all work together to support brand SEO
  • Digital PR strategies focused on building your backlink profile will boost your authority and an accompanying press section on your site will enhance your own external backlink profile
  • Social media optimisation will increase the likelihood of your profiles ranking for branded terms, thus making the most of valuable space on your brand SERP
  • Strong company structured data should also be used to enhance your chances of dominating your brand SERP with knowledge panels and featured snippets
  • If you are not ranking at the top of your brand SERP organically, bidding on your brand terms could be a quick win strategy to ensure you are appearing higher than other competing brands