Your Homepage Isn’t Your Homepage Anymore: Learning to Love Branded SERPs
WRITTEN by: Kahlin Hawke |
Let’s talk about your homepage.
If you’re like most B2B or healthcare companies, your homepage has for years been the focus of countless marketing meetings. Listening in on a typical meeting you’d likely here questions like:
What do we include for banner images?
Should we include banner images?
What do you think about running an A/B test on calls to action?
Can we change the content to better reflect our customer’s needs?
Questions like these are focused on one thing, giving your potential customer the best first impression of your brand. But is it becoming all for naught?
Your branded search engine results page (SERP) is becoming your new homepage. Not convinced? What if I told you that over 50 percent of all Google searches on mobile devices end without a click, and on desktop, it’s 35 percent. Need some more convincing? Consider this: Google has rolled out several new products within the last six months all focused on customers being able to interact straight from your branded SERP. These features include Posts, SMS messaging (in beta), and Questions and Answers (very early in the testing phase). All intended to provide Googles users with the ability to interact with your brand without needing to visit the website.
Where the future is headed is yet to be seen, but my guess is that for a percentage of visitors your brand becomes something like an extension of Google, rather than Google just being a tool that visitors use to discover your website.
So, what can you do to own your new homepage? I’m glad you asked. Before I give you some practical steps, let me clarify two things:
- First, I am not advocating any of these initiatives in place of your current marketing initiatives
- Second, before moving forward with any of these suggestions you should consult your SEO expert. Don’t have one? It’s nice to meet you! My name is Kahlin and I am your new SEO consultant. I look forward to talking with you soon! For starters you can either email me at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or fill out our Search Questionnaire.
Five Things You Should be Doing to Effectively Capitalize on Your New Homepage
Research: Start by conducting a couple of brand-name searches, including some with location modifiers, to get a feel for how your brand is being presented. Take several screenshots of the entire SERP. If you have trouble thinking of additional keywords, use Google’s suggested searches at the bottom of the SERP to get an idea of the keywords people are searching for in relation to your brand. Take into account how many of the results point directly to your site, a 3rd party review site (ex: Yellow Pages), show an image, show reviews, or worse yet, highlight your competitor.
PPC Ads: What!!! Are you serious?!?! You want me to pay money for my brand related keywords? Yes I do, but with wisdom. There are two main reasons for this: One, it protects your brand from competitors bidding on your brand, and two, it provides an easy means for visitors to access your site quickly. That said, this tactic is not necessary for everyone, so consult your SEM/SEO advisor before proceeding.
Google My Business: This is a must! Eye tracking studies have shown that your Google My Business Listing knowledge panel is a primary focus when visitors are looking at a branded SERP. There are so many key features within your GMB listing that you should be taking advantage of, including your profile picture, your hours of operation, accurate NAP+W (Name, Address, Phone Number and Website) and appointment URL’s, to name just a few. You should also be taking advantage of the latest features, such as Posts and Messaging, and begin planning for features that could be rolling out soon like Question and Answer.
Local Listings:Take advantage of getting your name, address, and phone number across the local ecosystem. Focus on listing platforms that perform well organically for your business. If you’re not sure which listing sites to target, consult with your SEO expert. Some people or platforms emphasize a push to citation sites, and at times this makes sense. But for a quick, initial win, focus on listing sites that perform well organically.
Review Management: After you have done your research you will likely notice several reviews within your branded SERP. Are they positive or negative? Have they been responded to? Why or why not? You would never ignore a customer you are face to face with, you shouldn’t ignore reviews either. Reviews and your response to them are major indicators to potential and current customers of the treatment they can expect. You probably have reviews on your GMB knowledge graph, Yellow Pages, Facebook, or even Glass Door appearing within your branded SERP that you can begin responding too. Having a strategy in place is essential to managing review solicitation and response.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this: If a potential customer never comes to your website, what do you want them to know and how do you want them to feel about your brand? Is your branded SERP conveying that you have great customer service? Does it showcase that you are ready to help or provide a solution through each channel? If the answer is no, then take some steps toward improving your branded SERP.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it should at least get you started. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me via email at email@example.com.