You’ve got a strong online brand presence when more local searches are done for your brand than for the category in which your business operates. That simple statistic indicates that Google and Co. have recognized your brand’s dominance in your particular category.
But what about a memorable brand name?
Conventional wisdom states, ‘SEO won’t help you if people can’t remember your name.’ Maybe it will.
So, what exactly is a brand name?
A brand name is the name of your company. Marlboro. Kodak. Apple. All of these are brand names that help distinguish your widget from other widgets. It gives your audience a way to remember your company’s you-ness. A way to find you when they’re ready to make a purchase; a way to share you – what you’re doing – with their friends.
Interestingly, brand names came before the Internet.
Betcha didn’t know that.
Back before we could search Google for Zappos, we had ABC Plumbing, AAA Bail Bonds, and Apple Computers. Get it? They wanted to show up first in the print directory; or at least before their competition, so they chose a name according to how people searched. This hasn’t changed much over time.
Here’s how people search for things, both online and offline:
First, people search by location. You wouldn’t bother to flip through Saginaw’s yellow pages if you lived in Key West.
Second, people search by category. Print directories were laid out categorically, putting all plumbers together in one group and all barbecue joints in another.
It’s still that way today.
SEOs and web marketers are wrong when they think that their prospects know enough about how search engines work to outsmart the search engine servers worth millions of dollars. What’s worse, they are wrong when they think people are going to adapt to new ways of searching for information just because it’s online and measurable. Worse than that? They think that prospects care about brand name. In the hustle-and-bustle mania of day- to- day life, what matters is speed. And results. Top results in fact.
Why else would companies pay upwards of a hundred dollars per click just to gain access to one potential new client? (It’s true.)
So is it really that important to create a unique brand name?
Yes. Here’s why: You want prospects to remember doing business with you. Long after the pleasantness of interacting with you has worn off. Long after the check has cleared the bank.
To be memorable in both name and service is the aim of all business.
Here’s a simple, mechanical test for any business with an online presence. Run this quick test any time you wish to measure your own brand’s dominance (or lack thereof):
Perform a search for your business category (plumber, marketing agency, persian cat breeder, etc) in your city. Say, ‘plumber in Kansas City.’
This particular search query turns up 1,630,000 results on Google. But that only tells us how many webpages are available around that topic.
Let’s look deeper, this time using Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.
Run a keyword analysis for the same search term. Now, within the results, find the exact term you searched for. Note how many local searches are performed on that phrase every month. For our example, 5870.
Next search for your brand name within the results. How many local searches are performed for that term each month? For this example, Roto Rooter turned up 1196 times.
Here’s the main takeaway:
If your audience isn’t searching for you by brand name, that’s OK. Don’t force it. Just continue to provide awesome service, build a reputation, and brand- recognition will occur naturally. Write about what you do. Write a blog about being a plumber in Kansas City.
Go where the people are, and help them find solutions to their problems.
(Hint: the people are on Google’s results page for ‘plumber in kansas city.’ How do I know? Because that’s what they’re searching for.)
Above all, remember this: Even if you’re just another ‘plumber in kansas city’, write about that. After all, isn’t that what people are looking for in the first place?
Go get ’em, tiger.