In the early days of my SEO career, a senior colleague recommended that I focus my efforts only on unbranded keywords.
The logic of this advice was that websites have an inherent advantage in beating competitors by their own brand keywords – such as the name of the company or its products.
Which, to be fair, is true.
The problem with this strategy, however, is that ranking on page one of a brand keyword is only the first piece of the SEO puzzle.
The second part of the puzzle is to ensure that the SERP listing and page content are as useful as possible for users – to generate more SEO visits, unique visitors and conversions for the site.
In the remainder of this post, you’ll learn how to identify a branded keyword opportunity, as well as offer tips on how to create and optimize your preferred landing pages for ranking – using a real-life example from FOX.com.
How to find the right opportunity
The best way to find the keywords with the “right” brand for your SEO campaign is to consult your keyword tracking tool to answer the following questions:
- Which brand queries are most popular (i.e., high monthly search volumes)?
- Are there common themes for consultations?
- Which URL is well ranked for these brand queries?
- Does the URL make sense?
- Would you be tempted to click on Google based on your metadata?
- Would you be satisfied with the content of the page after clicking?
- How are competitors doing for similar types of brand inquiries?
Popular brand queries
In the case of FOX, I found that branded gender keywords (i.e. iterations of “FOX [Genre] Shows ”) collectively offered a large volume of monthly research.
Unique page ranking for him in the SERPs
And although FOX.com was ranked on page 1, position 1 in the queries, the classified page itself was not very useful.
See the example below:
Competitors are doing better in this area
For comparison, I reviewed what other players in the industry were doing to optimize for similar queries.
As it turned out, most had dedicated landing pages for each genre of content offered.
See examples below:
With that in mind, I worked to improve FOX.com’s SEO performance for gender landing pages.
How to optimize your website for that opportunity
Strategy 1: Creating (or improving) the classified page
In many cases, the next step is to create a new page that meets the query.
Some questions to get you started:
- What do I think the user’s intention is behind this keyword?
- The type of content I would expect to find on the page, based strictly on the keyword?
- What other webpages are well ranked for that keyword?
- How are the competitor’s pages for the same type of brand query?
Strategy 2: get the page ranking “right”
In other cases, the best option is to make changes to your site to obtain the “correct” page rank for the brand keyword.
If you found that the “right” page for your branded keyword opportunity is not ranked – or worse, missing from the Google index – keep reading four tips on how to fix it (using FOX as an example)!
The solution for FOX was to classify the “right” pages for branded gender keywords.
Specifically, its many gender-specific landing pages are already on the site.
Tip 1: Make sure your pages display the correct status codes for Google
The first thing I discovered was that some of the FOX genre pages were displaying 404 errors on Google, so we fixed them to display 200.
Tip 2: Add self-referenced canonical tags to pages
In addition to the 404 error response codes, FOX.com’s gender pages were also missing canonical tags selected by the user.
Google chose to index none their. He considered all genre pages as “duplicates” for the / live page.
We fixed that too.
Tip 3: Create static and HTML versions of all pages
It was no accident that Google thought that all gender filter pages were duplicated on the / live page.
Upon inspecting the URLs in Google Search Console, I found that the robots were not able to “see” them properly.
FOX.com was created with ReactJS, the solution was to create static HTML versions of the pages, so that Google could better read what was the content of the pages.
The results below:
Tip 4: Implement custom and optimized metadata
Finally, I needed to set up all genre pages with their own customized and optimized meta tags.
We’ve also updated the metadata on the ‘Entertainment Center’ page to be more descriptive, and we’ve helped to sort by your own ‘correct’ keywords.
The results (so far)
All of the above changes were made on FOX.com until January 19, 2020.
And while optimizations take a while to start, we’ve seen some promising improvements over the past three months.
Specifically, FOX.com’s genre pages and Entertainment Hub page helped generate more organic visits, unique visitors and the start of content on the site.
See the details below:
- 66% increase in organic visits entering these pages.
- 66% increase in unique visitors entering these pages.
- A 51% increase in SEO content begins to enter these pages.
Entertainment Hub page:
- 16% increase in organic visits that enter this page.
- 16% increase in unique visitors entering this page.
- A 92% increase in SEO content begins to enter this page.
To leave you all with a practical idea of this case study, I recommend that you think critically about the classified pages for queries with your clients’ brand.
Taking the time to audit classified pages for your customers’ VIP brand keywords can uncover interesting information.
And optimizing these branded keywords can lead to significant improvements in website traffic and SEO conversions.
All screenshots taken by the author, April 2020