20 Nov 2008

An Open Letter to Big Brands Everywhere

Big Brands of the world,

You should be embarrassed. You should be so embarrassed that you are under your desk rocking back and forth because rocking is the only way to express how absolutely embarrassed you are.

You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? Of course you don’t. For you to know you’d actually have to be paying attention to what’s going on around you, and we both know that you’re not.

I didn’t have time to comment on this yesterday (too much work and such), but according to HitWise, 1 in 10 brand searchers are led away from your site in the SERPs when they do a search for your name. In fact, for one unnamed appliances and electronics retailer, 34 percent of searchers are led away. Do you realize how large that number is? Or maybe it doesn’t seem like a big number as your rolling around in your pile of money? However, consider how many people search for your name every day (you actually can track that, you know…) and then do the math. It’s actually a very large number, especially when the rest of us are feeling a recession and watching once-untouchable brands go belly up.

The HitWise numbers mean that you’re being so careless with your reputation in the SERPs that you’re letting a person primed and ready to buy from you slip out of your grasp. And they really are looking for you. They typed your name into their search box.  And yet somehow you’re borking the transaction by letting thin resellers outrank you and steal your thunder.

I know. Life used to be far simpler. This Internet thing wasn’t always as big as it is now. For awhile there, you only had to compete with commercials and phone books. And in the phone book, when someone goes to look you up, your competitor doesn’t get to clobber them over the head and steal them away. On the Internet, however, they have their very own gold-plated, personalized mallets.

But that’s still no excuse. There is no reason why your big corporate site should be getting schooled by an affiliate reseller. You need to take back control. Resting on your laurels is the best way to fail. It’s the best way to turn your brand into a joke as mom and pops start stealing your rankings and your business.

But the news from HitWise isn’t all dire. The numbers show that companies that take the initiative to protect their turf win big.

“We found that steps taken to tighten the reins on travel agencies to prevent agencies and resellers from capitalizing on the airlines’ brands appear to be working. Traffic from searches for a portfolio of the top American Airlines brand terms three years ago made up nearly 4% of visits to Travel Agencies. That is down to less than 1% for the four weeks ending September 27th, 2008.”

That’s money.

You must make sure that people who are looking for  you, get you. You don’t want to lose out on easy conversions. It’s like losing Game 7 of the NBA Championships on bad free throws. Athletes get shot for that in some countries. .

Do a search for your name right now and see what it looks like. What are users seeing? Would you click on your listing? How about if you didn’t own it?

You need to dominate that brand page. If that means picking up one of the paid spots so that your competitors get bumped out, do it. If that means creating a sizable social media presence so that you’re ruling the first SERP for your name, then you do it. I don’t know how anyone can justify losing 44 percent of their traffic to a reseller site. For the mathematically challenged, that’s almost half.

Sounds like someone needs some reputation management services. Feel free to give us a call.

Forever Yours,

The Lisa


  1. Darren Slatten November 20, 2008 at 2:18 PM

    Or maybe it doesn’t seem like a big number as your rolling around in your pile of money?

    I’ll be under my desk… rocking back and forth. =P

  2. Tim Staines November 20, 2008 at 3:14 PM

    This sentiment deserves to be taken one step farther IMO. I just tried searches for these phrases: “shoes,” “tennis shoes,” “sneakers,” “athletic shoes,” and “running shoes.” Didn’t see any big brands anywhere . . . makes no sense!

  3. Lisa Barone November 21, 2008 at 7:35 AM

    Tim, I totally agree with you. I was trying not to focus on the aspect in this post, but I’ve argued your exact sentiments before on my old blog at Bruce Clay.


    I’m sure we’ll touch upon that again at We Build Pages, as well.

    Also, I want to thank you for being possibly the first person ever to tell me I haven’t gone far enough. Usually it’s the other way around. :)

  4. Tim Staines November 21, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. It’s a little weird that I picked “shoes” to make my point, considering your BC post. I have to admit that I didn’t read you at BC, and April 16th was two weeks before I started doing SEO full time. In fact, I was out of the country when you published that one.

    Anyway, thanks for the link. I particularly enjoy dissections of the relationship between SEO and other parts of business.

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