Establishing yourself or your company as a brand online is important.
By “brand” I mean getting to the point where Google is certain that your name (or company name) is associated with a specific entity – so that Google “knows” what most searchers mean when they search your brand. There are several reasons why achieving this is important:
- Brands are treated much better. Their own website is invariably the #1 result in Google. Oftentimes an additional owned page ranks in the second position as well.
- Search results for Google-recognized brands include a knowledge graph – the box of images (logos or images) and information appearing on the top right section of the Google results page.
- Searches for brands tend to yield results that are relevant, timely, and useful (actionable).
- When you search for a Google-recognized brand, you will find the results you seek more quickly – often without needing to click through to specific results.
More than a year ago our team began to see a strong connection between having a Wikipedia page and being presented as a Google-recognized brand online.
We found that a full knowledge graph (more than just the brand name and a map) was almost always dependent on having a Wikipedia page.
Wikipedia is pretty powerful. It is perhaps the only ubiquitous platform online free enough to accept input from virtually anyone, and at the same time strictly policed to ensure accuracy.
The end result is very useful for Google.
1) If a brand or individual is important – you should expect to see an entry for them in Wikipedia. This is correlated more often for politicians and celebrities than it is for executives at companies.
2) If you find content about a well-known person or brand in Wikipedia – you can bet its content has been peer-reviewed for accuracy.
As Google pursues structured knowledge in an effort to be more effective in sharing information, Wikipedia has become an important de-facto source. This is true both for its ability to source so widely and for its army of active editors who police new content in real-time. The fact that Freebase, Google’s community-curated database of well-known people, places, and things, relies heavily on content from Wikipedia indicates its primary relevance.
Wikipedia is perhaps Google’s most accessible and accurate measure of whether a person or company is important to people. Wikipedia calls this ‘notability‘. Notability is the standard with which Wikipedia determines whether or not an entity ‘deserves’ its own Wikipedia article. Google relies on Wikipedia’s standard to ascertain which brands are worthy of a knowledge graph rather than simply looking at volume of searches.
Apart from a Wikipedia article, other branding signals include:
– Forbes profiles
– Inclusion on lists of distinguished companies or individuals appearing in distinguished publications
– Existence of active social media profiles that match the name of the brand or individual
If you are concerned with online branding for a company or individual here are some suggestions:
If the brand doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, engage the Wiki community to create one.
- Realize that Wiki content has to be factual (sourced), relevant, and non-promotional.
- Make it easier for Wiki editors by collecting and providing sourced background information about the brand.
- Look at similar brands in Wikipedia to get ideas about the type of content that should be in the Wikipedia profile.
If the brand has a Wikipedia page:
- Monitor the page for any changes.
- If you see inaccuracies, use the Talk page to bring the issue to the attention of Wiki editors.
- Keep an eye on traffic to the Wikipedia page – Spikes in article views are an indication of increased interest in the brand, which your communications and marketing employees will want to be aware of.
- Make sure that new relevant content is being included in the Wikipedia page – Use the Talk page to point out to Wiki editors content that should be included.
With the central and increasing role that Wikipedia plays in the treatment of brands by search engines, make sure that your brand is properly covered there. If you are not satisfied, take action and strengthen your brand.
“To understand the implications of In-Depth Articles, we looked at consumer-facing brands within the Fortune 500 and uncovered some interesting statistics. Wikipedia ranks on the first page of results for 96.2 percent of these companies, while Twitter appears for only 22 percent of the group and Facebook ranks on the first page for only 16 percent.” Read more….
Before we can start work aligning a brand’s online reputation to match their corporate objectives, we need to understand something about the playing field.
We need to understand what types of results are typical for brands in the same market. Many of our clients are Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, so we have done extensive research into this market.
Below is a table depicting the frequency with which we find various sites as top ten results in Google’s natural search results. (Data is from Nov 9, 2012).
The number above each bar represents the number of company search results in which each website appears.
As you can see from this chart, the most prevalent result for companies in the Fortune 100 is Wikipedia – appearing in 90% of page one results for Fortune 100 companies.
It’s interesting to note that Facebook and Twitter are each appearing in F100 first page Google results about 25% of the time.
Also interesting is that Yahoo Finance continues to be an important finance site as compared to Google Finance – which does not show up in the top ten.
A takeaway for companies in the space would be to look at the frequently occurring websites and determine if your brand should also have similar results. Knowing that Google tends to “like” showing a specific type of result seems to make it low-hanging fruit – an easy win if it’s something that will help your online reputation.
What about the FTSE 100?
In preparation for a week of meetings in London, we decided to compare the same type of data as seen in Google.co.uk results for the FTSE 100.
In the UK, Wikipedia is even more prevalent. Only 3 FTSE 100 companies have no Wikipedia page appearing in their Google page 1 results! Also noteworthy is the strength of The Guardian as a result shown in the first page Google results for 59% of all FTSE 100 companies! (Note to PR department – The Guardian is more likely to impact online reputation than the BBC, The Telegraph and Reuters combined!). In the UK Markets.ft.com outranks Yahoo Finance in prevalence by a significant margin, with Yahoo Finance still maintaining a significant foothold.
On the social media front, Twitter and Facebook are less than half as likely to be in the Google first page search results for a FTSE 100 company – as compared to a Fortune 100 company.
Notable as well is that neither group has video results coming up with any frequency. Image results show up in 6 of the FTSE 100 search results, but in only 2 of the Fortune 100 first page results.
With this knowledge, we are better prepared to look at FTSE 100 companies – and indeed at company results for other companies in the UK with a better understanding of which sites play significant roles in online reputation. When we approach a client program, we then take the additional step of doing a more exact comparison of the peer group – the companies or individuals that are most similar to the client. This offers further insight as to the way in which Google treats those keywords within the local search market.