There is a phenomenon in psychology where people assume others to have more knowledge than them. Known as ‘social proofing’, it is where people mimic the actions of others to ascertain the correct behaviour for themselves. Now as link building becomes increasingly spammy, Google bots are finding it difficult to identify which websites to rank on top. Anyone with the slightest SEO knowledge knows that getting links from high authority sites raises their website’s search engine ranking. But how do most of them put this into practice? By exploiting link buying techniques and other black-hat practices. Naturally, this has given link building a bad rep as a key ranking factor. To counter this, Google has begun to endorse what are known as ‘Brand Mentions’.
Let’s look at what brand mentions are and how you can use them as a far better alternative than link building.
While brand mentions have been around since 2012, it has only recently started to gain importance. Think of brand mentions the same thing as the ‘social proof’ phenomenon but in a virtual setting. Instead of social proof in the real world, brand mentions are the proof of existence of the brand on the web. This proof can be anything that can easily be measured in numbers. These include social media mentions, citations, links, and even plain text-based mentions of the brand name. Google has now put brand mentions as one of its 200+ ranking signals. And most industry-leading SEO professionals expect the ranking value of brand mentions to grow even further as link sharing becomes less relevant.
Why Use Brand Mentions?
Brand mentions offer Google bots a much easier way to ascertain the popularity of a website. Anyone can use brand mentions, even those who don’t have a website. This gives a much more accurate picture of the site’s popularity as only people who are truly interested in the brand will share it.
Does Google Value Brand Mentions?
Google filed a patent named Panda in 2012 in which it details the methods it uses to rank websites. One paragraph in the document is of immense value. If followed properly, it can help SEO professionals execute organic marketing strategies that can stand the test of time. Moz has already mentioned it in its blog, but for those who don’t know, I have put the text below.
“The system determines a count of independent links for the group (step 302). A link for a group of resources is an incoming link to a resource in the group, i.e., a link having a resource in the group as its target. Links for the group can include express links, implied links, or both. An express link, e.g., a hyperlink, is a link that is included in a source resource that a user can follow to navigate to a target resource. An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource. Thus, a resource in the group can be the target of an implied link without a user being able to navigate to the resource by following the implied link.” (US Patent Database)
Focus on the paragraph that mentions ‘implied links’ again. You will notice that these implied links are brand mentions if explained in the simplest way. And Google has been using it as a ranking factor from 2012. You may now ask, ‘If it is being used from 2012, what’s the big deal now?’ The short answer: link building has a limited scope. You can only use it on websites or social media platforms. Implied links or brand mentions, on the other hand, can be used in many places. These include: journals, eBooks, pdfs, review sites, and many more places that google bots can crawl. Secondly, anyone who likes the content and wants to share it can make brand mentions. And they don’t even need to get into the ‘do follow vs no follow’ link debate. This why brand mentions will rise in popularity in the next few years.
Does it Remove The Difference Between Do follow And No follow Links?
The discussion on what links are do follow and no follow is hard to ignore. Do follow links have more link juice than no follow links. And the more do follow links you have, the higher your search ranking is. No follow links, on the other hand, don’t impact your website ranking. Yet, they still matter for driving traffic. But if implied links become more popular, as the 2012 document suggests, the gap between these two will become insignificant. This can make the job of SEO professionals easier. All they would need to focus on is making sure their site gets brand mentions from leading brands.
How to Tap Into Brand Mention Strategy
Tapping into brand mentions is similar to gaining links for your brand. You will have to repeat the same tactics that you have been doing until now. But, the focus will shift from gaining do follow links to popularizing your content as far and wide as you can.
Some ways to do it are:
Write Honest Guest Posts
Become a thought leader by writing insightful guest posts on top websites in your industry. Instead of asking for a link from these websites for your article, write the article with your brand name instead.
Create Interesting Infographics That go Viral
Write on topics that people want answers for. For example, if you are an SEO agency, a good topic to make an infographic on is, ‘How much money did Trump make through his brand mentions’ or something similar. In other words, focus on trending topics because people are going to share them more.
Make Detailed E-books That Create Value
Write about a single topic thoroughly in an e-book and then make it available through a content gate. If you have written something that is truly marvelous, people will automatically share it and cite it as a source in their articles. This way, you will get more social and web mentions.
Three Must Use Social Profiling Tools
You have written a prolific content piece that was shared widely online. Now, how will you know that who shared it and where? Thankfully, this type of monitoring can easily be done through some tools.
- Google Alerts
Google alerts is a free tool that sends you alerts for your desired keyword. You have to simply set it up through the Google alerts setup page. Choose your desired settings and create your first alert. If it gets triggered, you will receive an email to confirm.
Mention is a paid tool that not only sends you alerts when someone across the web mentions your brand, but also tells you his/her social influence. In other words, it tells you if that person is a follower or a leader. It also shows the number of followers, the things he or she has said about you, and if they were they positive or negative. Mention is a paid tool and you can get it here.
- Social Mention
Social mention is a digital tool to analyse social sentiments of your given keyword. It is free to use, and you can simply enter your keyword in the search bar and check results. The tool will provide positive, negative, and neutral sentiments of your search query for the last month.
As the internet evolves, organic listings and rankings change accordingly. Until now, getting your site to rank on the first page was a struggle. But thanks to rich snippets and special focus on voice search and web administrators, it has become loads easier. Amid all the commotion, brand mentions are one of the top ranking signals that will help you grab the top ranking spot.