How to Rapidly Build Brand Signals for SEO

In SEO’s never-ending evolution, algorithms are continually assessing different elements to determine where brands rank.

I remember the time, “back in the day,” when you could often get ahead with only rudimentary SEO tactics like keywords stuffing, e-zine posting, and even article spinning.

Oh, but how things have changed…

Search engines have never been more sophisticated, and Google is relentless in its pursuits of providing users with the best experience possible.

One element of SEO in particular that’s garnered a lot of attention recently is brand signals.

What are brand signals?

In a 2011 post on Moz, Rand Fishkin explained that

Google wanted to separate the ‘brands’ that produce happy searchers and customers from the ‘generics’ – sites they’ve often classified as ‘thin affiliate’ or poor user experiences.

Long story short, brand signals are cues that show:

  1. Your brand exists
  2. You’re a credible brand
  3. You’re a trustworthy brand

In other words, brand signals prove to Google that you’re legit—you’re not merely a “generic” charlatan.

The way I see it, building brand signals is fast becoming an important way to establish trust with Google and increase your exposure in search engines.

On top of this, effectively building brand signals should also have a positive impact on your overall brand equity.

I also predict that the companies who skimp in this area will be at a major disadvantage in the very near future.

Download this guide to learn how to rapidly build brand signals for SEO.

How does Google decide whether you’re a brand?

I think the best way to answer this question is to look at this chart Moz created:

image03

On the left hand side, you can see which factors cause Google to view your business, website, blog, etc. as a “brand.”

On the right hand side, you can see which factors will result in it being viewed as “generic.”

Needless to say, you want Google to consider you as a “brand” and not “generic.”

Even though this chart is a little outdated (it’s from early 2011), it definitely offers some valuable criteria to guide our efforts in building brand signals.

In one of my posts on The Content Marketing Institute website, I also pointed out some of the main categories that comprise brand signals:

  • Mentions on the web (e.g., references to your brand on big-name publications)
  • Verifiable identity (e.g., business incorporation listings and comprehensive contact information)
  • Activity on social accounts
  • User queries (e.g., a high volume of people searching for your brand on Google)

How can you build brand signals for SEO?

Now that we know how Google determines whether or not you’re a brand, let’s discuss how to build brand signals for SEO value.

More specifically, I’d like to explain how to do it in a hurry.

Here are some techniques that have worked for me and should work for you as well.

Create a comprehensive About page

As Moz clearly indicates, Google wants to know your brand actually exists.

Therefore, it’s important you beef up your About page and include plenty of details.

image02

You’ll notice on the About page of Quick Sprout that I’m pretty comprehensive in explaining my background. I leave no stone unturned.

While you don’t have to go to this length, this should serve as a good template to guide you.

What’s another thing that Google is looking for? Whether or not you have a physical address.

Let’s be honest. It’s easy for any snake oil salesman to create a website and claim that they’re an authority in their industry.

But Google wants to know that you’re a legitimate brand and genuinely adding value. That’s why it typically gives preferential treatment to businesses with an actual office address and a physical presence.

So, be sure to include this information as well.

Be active on top social networks

Do I really need to even say that having a social media presence is important?

I’m sure you already know this.

But if you needed yet another reason to be active on social media, building brand signals is it.

Besides the direct traffic it brings and the SEO juice that comes from its signals, social media also plays a direct role in whether or not Google deems your business as a brand.

I would say the networks you’ll most definitely want to be active on are:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter (ideally, as a verified account)
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Google+ is optional, considering it’s pretty much a digital graveyard these days. But if you’re feeling frisky, creating a Google+ account should be beneficial as well. After all, it is Google’s social network.

If you’ve got the time, I also recommend creating an account on YouTube.

Besides the fact that it’s owned by Google, it can really be advantageous from a branding standpoint.

It’s also incredibly popular and should help you penetrate your market more effectively.

Here’s proof:

image04

And there’s one other trick I think will help you build brand signals through social media even quicker.

That’s to have your employees create profiles on these networks and link back to your company’s profile.

For LinkedIn, make sure that they explicitly state they work for your company.

Doing so shows Google that you DO have employees working for you, which makes it more likely that it’ll identify you as an actual brand.

Be active on relevant niche platforms

Another strategy for quickly gaining traction is to sign up on “niche platforms,” which are basically sites geared toward a specific industry.

For instance, a lawyer would want to be on Avvo, and a real estate agent would want to be on Zillow.

You get the idea.

This should send the right message to Google and get it to take notice.

Sign up for review sites

I also suggest taking advantage of sites such as:

  • Google Places
  • Yelp!
  • Angie’s List
  • Bing Places
  • Yellow Pages

Google Places in particular should serve as a great brand signal.

Consistently create high-quality visual content

Okay, so this probably sounds like a no-brainer. And it is.

I’m not going to drone on about the impact a well-run content marketing campaign can have, but consistently distributing high quality content throughout the right mediums will help your SEO on many levels, including building brand signals.

But for maximum impact, visual content is the way to go.

Why visual?

As I mentioned before,

…brand signals aren’t just about mentions. They are about mentions that people see, recognize and identify. Brand signals are for users, not algorithms.

Visuals not only help you connect with your audience in a memorable way but also expedite your brand signal building efforts considerably.

That’s because visual content tends to receive a lot of shares and has the potential to go viral.

In fact, “content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.”

image05

Infographics in particular are a great medium to utilize.

Just look at how popular they have become in recent years:

image00

This graph illustrates the spike in searches for the term “infographics” over the past decade.

Guest-post on authority sites

I mentioned before in another post that

as other websites mention your own, your brand gains credibility through cocitation.

That’s why my final suggestion for building brand signals for SEO is to guest-post on relevant highly respected and authoritative sites within your industry.

For example, I make it a point to contribute to sites such as:

  • Forbes
  • Inc.com
  • Entrepreneur
  • The Content Marketing Institute

image01

They all have to do with business, marketing, and entrepreneurship and have helped me create tremendous leverage.

Of course, the specific sites you target will depend upon your unique industry/niche.

Just go after the big boys that receive a high volume of traffic and are well-respected.

You can learn more on the process I use for guest-posting in this guide.

To maximize your impact even more, use branded anchor text (where your brand name is included in the hyperlink) when linking back to your site.

Just make sure it looks natural—not like you’re deliberately trying to stuff your brand name into your hyperlinks(s).

Conclusion

Although the concept of brand signals is a fairly new one, it’s something you’ll definitely want to have on your radar moving forward.

If you haven’t already made a concerted effort to ensure that Google views your business as “a brand,” it’s definitely time to get on board.

Fortunately, building brand signals for SEO isn’t rocket science. And it actually revolves around several techniques most brands are already implementing in some capacity.

It’s just a matter of understanding what Google is looking for and structuring your branding strategy accordingly.

By following this formula, you can kill two birds with one stone.

First, you can appease search engines so that your brand’s content ranks consistently higher.

Second, you can establish a tighter relationship with your audience and boost your overall brand equity.

What kinds of things is your business doing to build brand signals?

Comments

  1. Very helpful Tips for Awareness and Brand Signals. Strategic and Tactical in the same. Simply love it. 🙂

    Mohamed Hedi Lassoued

    • Thank you.

    • Julie Syl Kalungi :

      I agree Mohamed,

      As always I save my QuickSprout Posts for a time like this when I can give them my 200% attention and also apply the lessons there in. I cant wait for the day I guest Post right here! Its on my Vision Board 😉

      With that said, I really appreciate the tips that confirm the time I spend building a social presence. I just learnt that G+ is a digital graveyard…Aaahh, Pity! Keep rolling them out!

      Julie Syl

  2. Hi Neil,

    Thank you so much for writing such an AWESOME article. Everyone wants to grow their brand and to be seen by relevant folks. However, it’s not that easy – for you, off-course, it is – lol.

    Nonetheless, I think one of the best ways to build your brand reputation and increase your brand’s exposure, is through guest posting – that you just suggested.

    One more thing: I’ve been publishing quality articles on my blog, i.e. BloggingMotive. I am not applying any SEO on any of my articles. Is there any other way to get traffic without SEO if you’ve some good, quality blog posts?

    I’ve tried using Forums too. That doesn’t work for me, too. Please check out my website, and let me know if you’ve any suggestion.

    Thanks again, Neil 🙂 You’re just AWESOME!
    Best Regards
    ~Shakir
    BloggingMotive

  3. Great post Neil.

  4. Great piece of information Neil sir. We are also looking to do these things for branding. Great to know all these factors. Will improve our strategy. Thanks!

  5. Great piece, Neil.

    I couldn’t agree more. Another way that SEOs can think about it would be to create a ring of Branded Web 2.0 accounts that point back to their money site. Instead of hiding their identity, do the opposite.

    One of the first things we do when bringing on a new SEO project, is creating a full ring of branded accounts on high authority sites (I’ve listed the ones we use below) and then tie them all together to use them to create a content syndication network. So, whenever we post a new great article in the company’s blog, it will get syndicated and published on all of the company’s branded/owned media. It helps to provide social signals, but more importantly, the company’s customers can find the great new content wherever they go across the web. Not just the companies http://www.example.com site.

    Here are the properties we focus on to set up:
    Pinterest
    Google+ Page
    Facebook Page
    Tumblr
    Wordpress
    Evernote
    OneNote
    Del.icio.us
    Newsblur
    Diigo
    Twitter
    Instapaper
    Blogger
    Pocket
    Toodledo
    Medium
    Weebly
    Buffer

  6. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for sharing such a great post with us. The post was detailed and straight to the point. It would definately help me in near future.

  7. my website’s page rank and domain authority is continuous falling down what do you think can be the reason?

  8. Awesome tips their Neil, thanks

  9. Nice post Neil.

    Maybe something to add: Job openings / career pages are also a nice “brand” signal.

  10. As an entrepreneur competing with larger training companies, it is challenging to move my SEO ranking higher.

  11. Great tips, thank you!

  12. Neil, Thanks great post … Nailed it – once again.

    Can I ask for advice from you and your readers? (I hope so cause, I’m about to 🙂

    I’m beginning a campaign for a ‘local’ Sports Nutrition Dietitian who is also a Fitness Instructor.
    If anybody has any tips that worked for you please share?

    My marketing and branding goal is building customer reviews on local directories. While, engaging with local social groups and #hashtags on two popular and relevant social sites (keep it managable) and share links to, among other relevant things, their glowing reputation. And include guest posting plus a newsletter infused with email marketing, and offering tips&training through blogging and videos.

    I expect this will be a great place to start for the first year at least?

    What do you think (estimate) the graph for the rise in targeted traffic will be like through 3, 6, & 12 months?

    Based on medium competition in a city with about 1-1.5 million – most competitors are doing a little online stuff but no real goals. A few are savvy and building profiles and links; and some are active on social but not monetizing it very well.

    Thanks if you have any input – greatly appreciated.

    • There are quite a few factors more than just the above to know any estimates. I would need more detail as to not direct you incorrectly.

  13. Great piece of knowledge on Brand promotion. Reviews posting on big sites will provide great helps to build brand.

  14. Great insights Neil. I have underrated the power of linked in and instagram for some time. However guest posting has been one of my strategies. Thank you for the insights once again.

  15. Hello Neil,
    For branding product i prefer this post. Thanks for share.

  16. In my experience, Guest posting is the quickest way to grow your brand rapidly.

  17. Thanks Neil, Having all your employee’s LinkedIn profiles connected to your company page is very important to present yourself as a good brand, I found this very useful 🙂

  18. Residential Property in Kestopur :

    Very useful tips. Thanks for sharing this tips.

  19. Hi Neil,
    A great article indeed! I was looking the way to create a brand and this article is really very helpful. You have explained it really in detail.
    I have just started my new project and startup and was looking the way to make it a brand. Thank you for sharing this guide with us. I will surely follow all the points to create a brand. Thanks!

  20. Hi Mr Neil,
    I must say thank you for your brand building post.
    I have personally packaged my blogs brand marketing strategy from what I have learned from your site here.

    Thanks really.

  21. Hey Mr Neil,
    If you permit me to ask: How can I use my next 20 posts now waiting to be posted on my site to kick start my brand building effort?
    I in fact need real help here…

    Thanks Neil.

  22. Himachal Travel Experts :

    Thanks for sharing posting tips. Keep sharing such wonderful information.

    Thanks

  23. Well I agree with your point about the importance of establishing your business as a brand entity – but then this post really just becomes a list of general marketing and link building points, that serve to offer very little value to the reader (other than those who’ve never read an SEO blog before).

    “Be active on top social networks” – my mum’s more active on the top social networks than most brands, but she doesn’t get a knowledge graph listing when you search her name…

    Wikipedia, Wikidata, Schema and Google My Business – none are mentioned in the above, very surprisingly.

    And you state Google+ is optional – but it’s much more important for establishing brand signals than Instagram! Google+ may be dead as a social tool, but it’s not dead as a service and it is still heavily tied in with other Google services (such as Google My Business) that are all tick boxes for establishing your brand entity.

    There isn’t even a cursory mention of your business’s domain, and not going with some daft EMD or something, no mention of using “Sameas” Schema. I could go on…

  24. Awesome tips, Neil.

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. John Richardson :

    It’s interesting that you need to have authority in an area of expertise and now also have to have brand credentials. As a long time blogger, both of those are something I can create and tweak. Since I’ve been reading your helpful articles, I’ve been creating much longer blog posts. By adding branding elements, a detailed about page, and tying in with reference sites like LinkedIn, my site will hopefully tie in with the new Google approach. If nothing else, it makes for a much better user experience. Thanks as always for a new outlook on Google algorithms.

  26. A really good post Neil. Nowadays, google has been making really great changes in their search algorithms, and how they perceive web page has really changed. But it has changed for the good. As nowadays, you can’t just make a spammy page, point some links to it, and sit at the top. Search engine is now a constantly evolving space, and you need to be on the toes, and serve your readers right.

  27. I bet on guest posts and social signals, this post has added another one, brand signals.

  28. Hi Neil, great post.

    Got some questions, though. You say to “Consistently create high-quality visual content”. I certainly agree but how to create high-quality visual content without any experience in this field?

    Like writing blogs I assume that making high-quality visual content can take a lot of time. Got some idea’s for an infographic but some standard budget infographic won’t do the trick anymore. So that means I need to buy some designing tools and spend a lot of time creating visual content or let someone else do the work (but designers are not cheap).

    I also used Google places to sign up our company. Funny thing is that a Google+ company page needs to be created in the process. But we already have one…

    Cheers!

  29. Renee groskreutz :

    This is an issue that I have been completely unsure of as a blogger. Should I have a Google Places for example?? So thank you for bringing this up.

  30. Any specific thoughts on how this would relate to personal brands? Like, if your domain name is just your name?

    Would google penalize non-generic high quality personal brands simply for lacking permanent employees and offline advertising?

  31. Hi Neil, what software or service should I use to send “10 to 30 emails a day” to my subscribers ” thousands of e-mail addresses “

  32. Hotel Dewa Retreat in Rishikesh :

    Great article. Couldn’t be write much better!
    Keep it up!!!

  33. STW Services LLP: :

    Very helpful blog Neil…
    Thanks for sharing

  34. Douglas Troupe :

    Great Tips.. Thanks.. This will really help me. 🙂

  35. Dear Neil,

    Few weeks ago I requested you to query regard of Brand Building. Now you written on it. Lots of thanks again for being that kind..

    Thanks & Regard,
    Nish

  36. Hi Neil, great post.

    Got some questions, though. You say to “Consistently create high-quality visual content”. I certainly agree but how to create high-quality visual content without any experience in this field?

    Like writing blogs I assume that making high-quality visual content can take a lot of time. Got some idea’s for an info graphic but some standard budget info graphic won’t do the trick anymore. So that means I need to buy some designing tools and spend a lot of time creating visual content or let someone else do the work (but designers are not cheap).

    I also used Google places to sign up our company http://www.aquacloudcompany.com Funny thing is that a Google+ company page needs to be created in the process. But we already have one…

    Cheers!

  37. Awesome article as always. Thanks Neil.

  38. How do you think off line marketing contributes to SEO and online strategy. I am sure Google is not looking at offline tactics used like mailbox drops.

  39. Hey ! I am following your articles. Just want to know how you are able to get details statistics which are not available online ?

  40. Hello Neil,
    Thanks for sharing this, I and my friend are working together to build our brand. This post will sure go a long way.
    Thanks.

  41. Buy Commercial Property in Kolkata :

    Very Useful Information.
    Thanks for Sharing.

  42. Hello Neil

    I have two questions. Can you please take a look?
    1) If I have started new business, What I need to mention in my ‘About’ page?
    2) If my business is online so what should I mention in physical address?

    Thanks

  43. cbse Sample paper :

    Hi Neil

    This is one of the best article I have read regarding the brand building. I am just going to implement all these steps in my newly build blog. Hope to gain my own brand in this highly competitive domain. Thanks a lot once more.

    Kind regards

  44. Abhinav Chaudhary :

    Thanks a lot for the great suggestion. This is going to help me a lot.

  45. Big Thanks Neil.
    Superb informative post.

  46. Cristina Sliva :

    Thanx for sharing this informative blog. This blog is very informative fopr everyone. keep it on.

  47. Dr SEO Malaysia :

    Thanks for the information. Following and read your blog can know what is the latest trend of SEO 🙂

  48. I was always wondered how google determine if you are a brand or not. Here are some really good point on that. Make sens.

  49. Determined Solutions SEO :

    Hey Neil,

    Great information as usual. I’ve known about securing your brand online, but I hadn’t heard of brand signals. You explained it well though. And holy smokes! Your About page on Quicksprout is the most comprehensive About page I’ve ever seen. I’ll be beefing my About page up immediately. Thanks!

  50. Thanks for Sharing

    Very well Explained

  51. This is epic. You never cease to amaze me sir. Thanks for sharing these factors.

  52. Narinder kumar :

    Hey Neil
    Thanks for sharing great article its really helpful for my future blogs

  53. SilverLining Technologies :

    Brand Mentions always helps google to understand whether people are discussing your products. For social media there is something different, I call it Hashtag

  54. Lorna Wingfield :

    Great Article.
    I have tried my hand at Blogging and Guest Posting for my website.
    I should keep these points in mind too..
    Thanks

  55. Excellent article as usual from you. I always read many of Your posts and this is another best post. Thank you very much for the great work you are doing.

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