The general consensus among the 99% — that is, the 99% of businesses that aren’t household names — is that if you want to succeed on line, you have to kiss Google’s ring and hope that the ‘good tyrant’ of the ‘net gives you enough traffic to make a living. But there’s something about living under Google’s thumb that chafes just a little bit — it’s knowing that your success is dependent on some giant corporate entity that might change the rules at any point in the game.
So how do you beat Google at their own game? It’s actually fairly simple, in concept (though treacherously difficult to implement.) You have to become something people search for by (brand) name. The recent large-scale examples: Groupon. Pinterest. Dollar Shave Club.
Benefits of Branding
When you’re searched for by brand name, Google doesn’t really have any choice except to offer up the thing that your searchers clearly want: your website. Even if you’re a relatively small company with a relatively small user base, if you can market your company in such a way that people go to Google and type ‘TheresANappForThat’ rather than ‘baby blankies’, you’ve won.
Building a brand — part of which is attaching value to both your name and your product — means that you move away from being exchangeable. You know how sometimes, you go to Google and you type in a kind of product, like “organic cleaner,” but other times, you know what brand you like best, so instead you type “Sensaria”? That’s exactly what branding does for your company. When people search for you by brand name, they don’t get someone else’s results first, period.
Becoming a Brand
So how do you become a brand name rather than just a product? There are a few ways. The first is simply in how you refer to your own product. You should set yourself up so that your brand name is synonymous with your product. In other words, rather than being “ice cream”, your product should be “Ben & Jerry’s”.
The second thing to do is ‘something different.’ You have to stand out from your competitors in a way that is hard to replicate and memorable. It doesn’t really matter what you do differently enough to make yourself a brand rather than a product. In the case of Ben and Jerry’s, it’s a combination of exotic flavors, interesting ingredients, and a reputation for eco-friendliness. If you’re Sensaria, it’s about being gentle enough to clean your baby but tough enough to clean your kitchen. If you’re Dollar Shave Club, it’s a combination of hysterical style and a unique business model that you can’t find anywhere else.
The last thing you can do is get social. Especially if you’re an Internet-centric business, steering the social media so that they talk about your product using it’s brand name (rather than talking about your product and your brand separately) is an easy way to make it very clear to Google that when someone searches for your brand, they want your brand and not some “did you mean to search for?” shenanigans.
Branding doesn’t replace SEO — you still need SEO to attach your brand name to specific keywords and capture people who haven’t heard of your brand or aren’t searching for it by name — but it goes a long way toward keeping your business Google-proof.