If you want to learn more about a brand, it is very likely that the first thing to do is to enter the name of this company in Google. What you see on page 1 of this brand's search results plays a critical role in defining the company's online reputation.
When a searcher finds positive content when querying a company name, it is a good first step in the relationship between the brand and the consumer. If you see negative content, you don't have a second chance to make a good first impression. A research study conducted by my company showed that 22% of consumers do not buy a product if they find a negative item when looking for a brand.
Due to the importance of the first page for a trademark query, I wanted to conduct a study that enables brands to better understand what tends to rank well. Then we could make this data usable by creating the search results for our customer's own brand name.
For this data study, we collected and analyzed the search results on page one for the brand names of 500 companies. From a reputation management perspective, this is useful data to find out which websites areas can focus on to protect the first page of your results (or resources to move negative content to page two).
It has long fascinated me to recognize trends in dealing with brands on Google. In 2012, we looked at the most common phrases for brands in Google Autocomplete. And then circled in 2013 and did the same analysis for personal brands, using CEO names in Autocomplete.
For this study, we used 500 companies from the INC 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in the United States as a data source. We started with the top ranked company (# 1) and went down the list, removing all companies with names that needed to be changed to disambiguate a mixed set of search results. For example, “Podium” is a fast growing company, a platform for speakers and therefore has a variety of organic search results. Therefore, it has been removed from our list of companies.
We then wrote a script that searched for each of the 500 companies on google.com and gathered information from the SERPs. For the organic search results of page 1 for each query, we have saved each ranking URL, its ranking position, title, text excerpt, star rating (if available) and the number of ratings (if available).
Highlights from the results
With this large data set we were able to analyze the data in different ways.
LinkedIn is King
LinkedIn is clearly visible in the search results of the brands. It is the most common site for the brands we analyze and appears on page 1 for 381 of the 500 companies analyzed!
In the context of an overall social strategy, LinkedIn is often an afterthought, if it is talked about at all. And although it may not be as sexy as other social platforms, it is clearly something that should be taken seriously, since on the first page 76% of the companies in our body are searched. Applicants, potential customers, investors and more can land on your LinkedIn page to learn more about you. It is therefore worthwhile to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
Glassdoor Reviews Really Important
Glassdoor is the third most common page (Facebook is the second most common, but most brands have sufficient influence on this page). Glassdoor appears in the search results of 230 companies and there are multiple pages for 81 of these companies.
Of these companies, 199 had a rating that appeared in the search results as a rich snippet. We’ve done additional analysis on these ratings to understand how the companies were doing on the website. We found that the average company rating was 3.4. The total number of ratings ranged from one to 217. This shows us that only one rating is enough to include Glassdoor in the brand search results (and display a star-rich section). The following graphic shows the rating distributions for the companies.
We often receive calls asking for advice on Glassdoor to either remove it from search results or improve its rating. It's now virtually impossible to push Glassdoor out of brand search results and keep them out. And as we can see in the data, it appears for 46% of the companies analyzed. The solution here? Develop a great corporate culture and treat people well.
Own crunch base page
Crunchbase is a great place to profile your brand. And if it shows up for 26% of companies, now is the time to do it if you are not there or have not curated your presence. Like Wikipedia, anyone can edit it, but the risk of vandalism is much lower here.
The key to this page ranking is to fill it out as completely as possible. This means filling in fields such as date of foundation, all locations, investors, news articles, etc. and filling them with unique content, instead of copying and pasting text that appears on other sites.
Social profiles are visible
We wanted to consider social websites as a separate group to find out which of them appeared the most. The most common locations are sorted by priority:
Sites 4-9 in the list above were listed in less than 3% of companies' search results. From an organic perspective, the focus should first be on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. After that, the other sites should be a reputation management focus if they are highly relevant to your area or if you are a site that you are already very active on.
Most common locations
The following are the websites that have appeared most frequently for the 500 companies analyzed (including all websites that have appeared for at least 15 companies):
LinkedIn (appears for 381 companies) Facebook (246) Inc (236 because it's our original data source) Glassdoor (230) Crunchbase (134) Bloomberg (107) Indeed (94) Yelp (67) Manta (63) Twitter ( 57) Wikipedia (52) BBB (49) Amazon (45) PR Newswire (38) YouTube (32) Zoominfo (27) Instagram (27) Mapquest (24) Bizjournals (22) GovTribe (18) ZipRecruiter (17) Businesswire (16 ) TechCrunch (15)
Use of this data
This data may be useful to you regardless of whether you want to proactively protect your online reputation or are in the midst of a reputation crisis. When people search your brand name, you want them to see positive URLs and ideally content that you have some control over.
First, check the list of websites and social properties that are most often displayed on page 1 for businesses. Determine which of these websites are relevant to your business (most should be) and then develop an individual plan for each property to create robust pages and profiles. By providing this as detailed as possible and with clear information (no duplicate company descriptions!), You increase the likelihood that Google will rate it well for your brand.
When we work to improve a company's online reputation, we also use the strategy of being inspired by the search results of similar companies (or individuals). If we understand what Google naturally thinks is a similar entity, we can develop a strategy that takes these trends into account.
A strong overall approach would be to combine this qualitative strategy of “similar units” with this new quantitative data. The combination of the two would be a reputation management content strategy that prioritizes websites that we know have a good chance of ranking well for our targeted brand phrase. Once these websites are fully built with good branding content and (if necessary) little help from backlinks, social shares and clicks, these assets can help protect page 1 of your brand searches.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About the Author
Brian Patterson is a partner and co-founder of Go Fish Digital and is responsible for researching and developing strategies for online reputation management (ORM), SEO and the management of web development projects. It can be found on Twitter @ brianspatterson.