It feels like it was just yesterday, but surprisingly almost 6 years ago the then CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, famously said that the internet was a cesspool. At the time, his solution to cleaning things up was applying more trust in brands.
“Brands are the solution, not the problem, […] Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”
Many SEOs at the time assumed that this meant that Google’s algorithm would then start favoring branded domains over others. I will admit that I too fell for this misconception. Now, don’t get me wrong I am not saying that the search landscape hasn’t changed since then. But instead of Google favoring branded domains, IMO they have started to favor sites that look like brands. “Look like brands?” That’s right, Google isn’t so much interested in whether a site has an actual brand, but rather their algorithms are now more focused on the patterns and signals that brands typically attract. Which means that sites that want to increase organic traffic should be focusing on these signals if they aren’t already attracting them.
Proper Nouns In Domain Names
Whats the difference in “Hot Dogs” and “Joe’s Red Hot Hot Dogs”? One is a regular noun, the other is proper noun for the name of a fictional company I fantasize about starting one day! So, nouns are people, places, and things. Proper nouns are people, places, and things that can’t be replicated. There is are many annoying obnoxious 20 year olds, but there is only one Justin Bieber. Therefore, JustinBieber.com is more likely to rank higher than Obnoxious20YearOlds.com
These types of queries are used to navigate to a site that you are already aware of, but don’t know the address. So lets say I am looking for the official web page for “Doctor Who”. If I search that term then the page on the BBC’s site is one of the first results. This is largely because that spesific page likely has the highest click through rate for that query. So if you wanted to think about how these types of queries work try this on for size: “Proper noun in query” + “high click through rate” = Branded Page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006q2x0 Now of course this is just a simplfied version of Google actual patent on the use of these queries.
Branded Anchor Text
This one is pretty straight forward, but essentially what we are shooting for here is anchor text that contain the proper nouns associated with the domain. This likely acts the same what that anchor text always has in that the terms carry relevance to the target site. The full domain can also be used in this same way as long as the branded terms are present. So therefore if I wanted I could one day use anchor text like JoesRedHotHotDogs.com
Branded Social Media Accounts
I will admit that it is hard to tell which networks Google is pulling quality signals from. However, hitting all of them at once is a smart move for any brand. But it looks like the most important might be Google+. Setting up a branded Google+ profile is an incredible brand signal. I say this mostly because I have actually seen Google take away entire Google accounts/profiles from users trying to impersonate brands on Google+. Which to me is a strong sign that they are intent on aligning brands with their accounts. Setting up a page for your brand is not only a smart way to leverage the network, but is also a great way to take advantage of Google’s publisher markup.