By Mike Murray published February 12, 2020 Est Read Time: 7 min

How to Use SEO to Boost Branded Keyword Rankings on GoogleEst Read Time: 7 min

Some SEO low-hanging fruit is almost too low. It makes you think you don’t need to try to earn better rankings that generate more traffic.

But why settle? You’ll miss countless higher-hanging SEO fruit.

Branded keywords can easily fall into that grasp. By brand, I’m not merely referencing a single keyword like GE or DHL. Brands are part of countless keyword phrases:

  • Nike React Infinity Run
  • Sony X850G TV review
  • Outback Steakhouse coupon

Just because your brand is included in a keyword phrase doesn’t mean your site ranks No. 1 for it. Variables could include:

  • Domain authority primarily influenced by the number and quality of backlinks
  • Content relevance
  • Domain name associated with the brand
  • Distributor websites
Your brand in a keyword phrase doesn’t mean an automatic No. 1 ranking, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Here are some key steps and best practices to keep in mind while reaping the most fruit from your brand for SEO purposes:

Collect your data

Tools like SEMrush and Google Search Console make it easy to find brand-related keywords and data such as rankings and search volume. If you’re running paid ad programs like Google Ads, dive into the search queries people use (not just the words you feed into your campaigns).

Figure out what’s ranking No. 1

Although the rankings could fluctuate over time, you’re probably safe to assume your No. 1 rankings will hold. Those top rankings aren’t your priority. Enjoy how they support your business.

For example, Bayer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, does not need to pay attention to these No. 1 rankings:

Analyze keywords that rank No. 2 to No. 10

Start with the keywords just beyond your fingertips. If you’re already No. 2, shouldn’t that be enough? No. You could be No. 1. See what you can do to boost any of your top-but-not-No.-1 positions.

Industry data from Advanced Web Ranking shows clicks drop between the No. 1 and No. 2 positions and continue to decline. Moving up one spot can make a difference in traffic. Backlinko found that the No. 1 result has a 31.7% average click-through rate and is 10 times more likely to get a click than the No. 10 position.

A No. 1 ranking is 10x more likely to get a click than the No. 10 position, according to @backlinko via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Bayer ranks No. 11 (second page of results) for “Bayer aspirin” with an average of 14,800 Google searches each month:

What are the main obstacles? Bayer’s site doesn’t use “Bayer aspirin” in the SEO page title, content header, main content, and image file name.

Fortunately, Bayer leverages a digital strategy that many brands embrace. They create related sites (microsites) with separate content and keyword-rich domains. For “Bayer aspirin,” bayeraspirin.com is the No. 1 ranking.

.@Bayer leverages a #digitalstrategy that many brands embrace, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. Read more: Click To Tweet

Why fret over a No. 11 spot when you have the No. 1? Why not? Bayer should make the effort to get a better ranking to reinforce the brand and meet website and business goals.

Clearly, Bayer has strong rankings for https://www.bayer.com/en/aspirin.aspx. But some slight SEO adjustments could be made to improve the “Bayer aspirin” ranking and probably several other top 10 keyword phrases as well.

Hershey’s could improve its No. 4 ranking for “Hershey Kiss calories,” which has 6,600 monthly searches on Google: https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/products/hershey-kisses-milk-chocolate-12-ounce-bags.html

The SEO page title is: Kisses Milk Chocolate 12-Ounce Bag | HERSHEY’S.

I’m sure Hershey’s wouldn’t want to play up the calories with an SEO page title like this: Consume 160 Calories with a Serving of 7 Hershey’s Kisses – Milk Chocolate Bag.

But the company doesn’t shy away from nutrition data deep on the website page. “Hershey Kiss calories” and other top-ranking keyword phrases might rank better with this SEO page title: Hershey’s Kisses – Milk Chocolate 12-Ounce Bag | 160 Calories Per Serving.

Here are some other Hershey’s keywords that do well for the same page:

Be careful before optimizing a page to rank higher

Once you identify some priority branded keyword phrases, you still need to check other data before fine-tuning the page to get a better ranking.

Sort the data and find out what other keyword phrases are ranking for the same page – both branded and nonbranded keywords. Evaluate data like:

  • Relevant words that rank in the top 10 positions
  • Google estimated search volume for each keyword
  • Page focus based on the page content header and maybe a subhead

Why do you need to go through all of that trouble?  You don’t want to make page adjustments that could displace other high rankings. If you revise the SEO page title or the page content header (or both) to support a branded keyword phrase, you might lose other positions for branded or nonbranded keywords.

Don’t always be quick to dismiss keywords with low search volume, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

In Hershey’s case, some minor changes to the Hershey’s Kisses page would not be too disruptive.

Look at your numbers and decide how much to modify your page. If a relevant branded keyword has 500 monthly searches and ranks No. 7 and a nonbranded keyword ranks No. 5 with only 20 monthly searches, you might feel comfortable about updating the SEO page title, content header, and other content.

However, don’t always be quick to dismiss keywords with low search volume.

Sometimes the low-volume, long-tail keyword phrases are worth protecting. Be careful because those keywords that aren’t as popular may be profitable for your business. How much is your product or service? What are your margins? What is your lead to close ratio? You might not have access to all of the data, but the context of the keyword phrase should help you decide whether it’s valuable.

Don’t always be quick to dismiss keywords with low search volume, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Create new content

Be open to developing new content to support branded keyword phrases. Educational articles, case studies, e-books, FAQs, or product summaries may be effective.

All of the basics should still come into play like the page URL, SEO page title, content header, image name, image alt text, user-friendly content, and internal links from your other website content.

Consider this example from Pentair, a water treatment company. It only ranks No. 27 for “Pentair filter parts” with 3,600 monthly searches on Google: https://www.pentair.com/en/products/pool-spa-equipment.html. Ranking higher are Pentair’s Amazon presence and its distributor websites.

And it’s unlikely to rank higher for “Pentair filter parts” since it’s supporting so many keyword phrases. More than 50 phrases are among the top 10 positions. I wouldn’t mess with this page.

The answer to a higher ranking for “Pentair filter parts” could be the creation of a new page that showcases some of its top filtration products.

Reach higher for branded keywords

To succeed with SEO and branded keywords, don’t settle for the low-hanging fruit. Make calculated changes AFTER you understand your data and website objectives.

What steps do you take to analyze your keywords? Do you update existing pages or make new ones dedicated to keyword phrases that feature your brand?

Higher rankings can happen with top learning opportunities for you and your team. Search engine optimization is one of the many tracks at Content Marketing World this October. Make plans to join us today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Mike Murray

Mike Murray has shaped online marketing strategies for hundreds of businesses since 1997, including Fortune 500 companies. A former journalist, he has led SEO studies and spoken at regional and national Internet conferences. Founder of Online Marketing Coach, Mike is passionate about helping clients identify their best opportunities for online marketing success based on their strengths, his advice and industry trends. You can find him at his blog, Online Marketing Matters or on Twitter @mikeonlinecoach.

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