Recently, Tim asked me to research the online branding for a PR client we were working with – over 60 companies. My job was to establish what each company’s google searches represented, how they looked, and their Social Media. The results were shocking. How could companies that have thousands of employees have such poor branding online? Was this actually happening?
Below are the 6 steps I followed in my research. This is the basic outline for any company to establish their online Google branding, what to do, and why it is important.
1. Google Places – Firstly, when you type in a company name, what is the image that represents them? This is the first impression that any client/partner/competitor will be looking at. Maps, photos and contact details should always be listed in your Google listings.
2. Advertising – Is the client advertising on the search results, and if not, why not? Are their competitors advertising on the search results? What we found was outstanding. Competitors were actively advertising on our soon to be search words. This is just like letting a competitor place their billboard signs up on your shop front. The first link on Google receives more than 34% of hits. If you’re on page 2 of your word search results, pack up, go home and apply for a job at McDonalds.
3. Sitelinks in Google search – This is a great indication on what links are getting used on the URL site, how much traffic is getting directed on the site, and where it’s going.
4. Images and Videos – This is a great way for a company to control the search engine pages, with the added benefit of pushing external negativity to lower pages, which minimizes risk onto the companies’ brand. The best example for this? Gaytime. Gaytime is an Australian ice cream, and quite frankly, it’s amazing. If you type in Gaytime into search engine you will find photos, videos and links to an ice cream brand – and not other websites that would have your coworkers raising an eyebrow at your inappropriate workplace material.
5. Social Media – What sites does the client currently have in operation? Who controls the Social Media site? We found that EVERY company that we conducted research on had at least one Facebook page. More often than not, the Social Media pages were set up by current employees, ex-employees, and worst case scenario, disgruntled customers/competitors. If you would like a great insight as to how bad some of the Social Media content can be, just check out our Kinder Morgan case study.
6. Negative interactions and responses – The internet can be your best friend or that ugly wart on your foot that you’re embarrassed about. We consistently found Social Media pages, blogs, comments even websites set up solely to defame a company. The results of these can be disastrous to online branding and drive potential customers and partners away. Once negativity is created, there are few ways to rectify the damage that has been caused from online contributors, and that’s when you have to call in experts who will charge ‘expert’ rates.
And there’s your 6 simple steps to improve your Google online branding. Failing to prepare a companies reputation within the world’s largest search engine is kind of like going to an outside music festival without your own toilet paper – it might be OK for a while, but sooner or later there will be trouble, and there will be nothing you can do to stop it.
Please note: When googling ‘gaytime’, try it first at home…just in case. #NSFW