Question: You talk about competing with the manufacturer, how about flipping that around. How does the manufacturer compete with Amazon?
Rand's Answer: So a few things are available to use as a manufacturer that are not available to anyone else. One of those is being able to control, what Google calls, the knowledge graph results. It appears on the right sidebar of a search query. Is that right? Yeah. The right sidebar of a search query for any particular brand name or an entity name.
So, for example, if you search for any actor's name, right? You would find, who were we just researching? Tessa Thompson, right? So if you search for her, you'll see ... because her and Janelle Monáe are like dating now. Oh my god.
So, you know, if you search for anybody like that, those knowledge graph results are available to you. And, in fact, those are controllable as of last week by a brand that says, "We own and control this." So that is a very cool ability available to no one else but you, the registered trademark owner of the brand name.
The second thing that's pretty cool is that Google gives, by nature, a sort of extra boost, click-through boost and authority-boost, to the official website in terms of a brand name search. So long as you get a lot the SEO things right on your website. So that includes like a friendly url; you don't want to be using sub-domains that'll dilute things, you don't want to be using long, complicated url strings that have a bunch of parameters in them. This is even for sub-brands.
So if we're talking about like REI's, I don't know, global tracking hiker shoe, I don't know if that's actually a thing but let's say ... it probably is. Then that would be a url that you want to have in that format with those right folders and that kind of thing. As an example, again with REI, if they registered some random domain like, globaltrackerhiking.com and then you had their ad point to that, it will not perform nearly as well as if they have it go to REI.com/global/tracker/shoe or trackershoe or whatever.
Generally speaking, Google has, has this paradigm whereby, on both the organic and the paid side, domains inherit a certain amount of authority and as you build up this authority and preference; like lots of users who see this domain now prefer to search like this. Click on this and don't bounce back to the search results. You benefit over time.
So another great thing that can and obviously should do, is measure your bounce rate. If lots of people come to your website from Google and then they click the back button and choose a different result in Google, that will kill your ability to rank. In both paid and organic. And that, yeah, that can be a death knell. So folks they see this one, their websites really slow, web user experience is not good or it's not mobile friendly or when it's not desktop friendly. Like someone went overboard with mobile first and now it looks like crap on desktop.
That's a real thing now. And that can seriously harm you click return conversion. Google calls it pogo-sticking when someone goes from the search result to your page back to the search result.
So the question was, how should you think about branded optimization versus non-branded. I have changed my position on this significantly. So I used to think that ranking for your non-branded stuff was the most important because those are the ones that are competitive. And that is true, that's still true today. Non-branded is becoming much more competitive than branded is.
However, the most successful organizations that I see in search and on the web and just in general, are those where the CEO can smile and go, "Oh, you think SEO is important. Guess what, that's 1/100th. All the search terms combined for all of our unbranded products is 1/100th the amount of searches we get for our brand names. And that is intentional."
And so, I have very much come around to saying, "Yes, SEO still matters, certainly, for smaller organizations and you can win that space." It can be awesome and transformative. It's definitely a wonderful short and medium term investment; but if long-term you can invest in things that will get people, rather than searching for hiking boots, to search for Nike boots.
Forget about it.
That's the real win. A brand just dominates. And I think we're in an era in, not sure if it's global capitalism or American capitalism, whereby there's so many compounding benefits for becoming a winning brand in a space. So that's certainly an area that I urge everyone to invest in.