By Dave McAnally, Associate Director, Natural Search
In the last few months, it seems a lot of my day-to-day work has revolved around how big brands should think about SEO. I'm talking HUGE brands. The type of brands that have products Oprah gives away. The kinds of brands that are so firmly ingrained in people's consciousness that they may actually go seek them out via search. Sounds like the problem you want to have right?
Unfortunately, a side effect of having such a large and ubiquitous brand is that there are many people that would love to steal some of the equity. Not always maliciously mind you, but if you've got a big brand...you can rest assured that plenty of content exists around your brand, logos, videos, mascots etc (ah woe is the day if you happen to market a professional sports team!).
Get your favorite browser out and do a search on Coca-Cola on Google. Seriously. I'll wait. Got it up? See how Google is showing you a wide range of content? You've probably got some images at the bottom. I get a map showing me various Coca-Cola locations in New York. Funny thing is-do you notice that while Coca-Cola dominates that top slot, there are other brand-oriented visual elements that don't necessarily tie to the official company sites? None of the images originate from a Coke site. Look at Bing. Or Yahoo. All the engines are showing multiple types of content for that brand search simply because they know images, locations, videos and news are all things users could be looking for.
The point I'm trying to make is that engines will find a way to show users content about your brand in mediums they think they want to see them in, whether that's your content or not. Now you could play a game of whack-a-mole and try to stamp out all unlawful usage of a logo, OR you could play by the rules engines set forth. Quite simply, understand what content users want and optimize accordingly. Identify how engines are showing results for your brand, and ensure your digital assets are found.
Images...just because you have video doesn't make them go away:
Snickers dominates video queries due to the Betty White commercials during the Superbowl. But see those searches related to Snickers? It would behoove Snickers to ensure they have images with file names/alt tages that reflect these. None of these are going to the official branded page.
If you have videos, name them in a way people search!
Here's a listing for Chevy. As you can see, Engines are showing us images. The thing is, Chevy has a YouTube Channel. It's got almost a million views. However, none of these videos are targeted to queries around 'Chevy.' Since their channel is so authoritative, it would take some minor word-smithing to appear in web-search results, thus owning even more page real-estate (not to mention it's highly likely users are looking for videos related to Chevy anyway since we know they are getting the views on YouTube alone).
Optimize Press Releases and Syndicate Them
This is more of a time-sensitive thing, but this is a pretty clear-cut case of reputation management. If Wal-Mart were my client, I would a) make sure we're pumping out Twitter updates that make liberal use of our brand in order to generate some potential real-time results traction around the Wal-Mart brand, b) create a white-paper or story relating to a positive initiative related to Wal-Mart and put it through the e-newswires (these stories are sourced by the WSJ so displacing them won't be easy, but this is a good start). Whatever we do, we need news content about Wal-Mart to be out on the wires so we can make inroads on winning ground in news results.
You Have Sitelinks...Make the Most of Them
I have no problem with Dell Laptops. I have two of them myself. However, I don't REALLY need two links in a search result taking me to TWO unique pages about them. This makes for a poor user experience. In all likelihood, this is happening because Dell hasn't identified a clear laptop hierarchy on the site (through both navigation on the site and how they are linking internally). Strategically, they should decide which IS the best page to show here (and subsequently think about what other key sitelink should be here) and optimize accordingly. For a quick fix in the near-term, Dell can use their Google Webmaster tools account to delete whichever results they don't like (they DO have a Webmaster account right?)
Engines will show all sorts of content to users based on your brand queries (whether you want them to or not). For large brands, the choice should be about how they can engage users looking for ALL content, rather than sending them to another video site because theirs isn't optimized.