SEO: What’s in a name?
An inevitable part of any B2B tech PR’s day is wading through the regular deluge of spam and marketing that fills their inbox. It’s part and parcel of the system: our email addresses are spread to the far corners of the internet as we build relationships with journalists, subscribe to publications and newsletters, sign up to trial services or request access to documents for research, and eventually end up on some marketing list or another.
An email that popped into my inbox recently got me thinking about the importance of brand name in terms of the effect this will have on SEO. I’m willing to bet that this is a consideration overlooked by many a budding entrepreneur or branding team preparing to launch a new product. It’s a factor that could ultimately have a huge impact on its success or failure.
At TopLine we frequently receive emails from SEO companies touting their services. Heather has already discussed a particularly bad one, but I recently received a similar email that perhaps goes one better. The email read as follows:
We found your web site and we liked it, but it looks like you could be getting a lot more visibility and traffic on the search engines if your site was easier to locate. For no cost to you we will analyze your site and your web placement and show you how a higher listing with specific key words would greatly benefit your online results. Reply to us today. Our free review comes with no strings attached.
Now what made this email and this company particularly interesting/amusing/open to my snarky judgement, is that it’s near blooming impossible to find them. There was no company name; in fact all I had to go on was an email address ending with @caryon.com which itself yielded very little.
That’s because the word “Caryon” falls foul of Google’s “Did you mean?” feature when it thinks a user has made a typo. So had I been a genuinely interested customer looking for more information on “Caryon” I’d have had to trawl through numerous pages of results to eventually get to its site. From pages about crayons (surprisingly there're a lot of them), to all 10,000 of the Carry On films, songs by the bands Fun and Avenged Sevenfold along with general misspellings of the word “carry”, I was blocked at every turn. I find it hard to see how this company would get business at all as surely any SEO company worth its salt knows the importance of practicing what it preaches, optimising its own site to make it as easy to find as possible.
SEO is all about relevance: ensuring your website is making itself easily available to the people looking for it and, perhaps more importantly, avoiding the people who aren’t. In the past Google didn’t pick up on whether a site had a lot of bounce back traffic from visitors who realised upon arriving at the homepage that they were looking for something else. Now there's evidence that Google actively punishes such sites with a lower search ranking. This is why picking a relevant or at least unique brand name is so important.
Imagine if Microsoft and Apple were competing start-ups established in 2013. From the get-go, Apple would have a much bigger job optimising its website to separate it from the fruit sellers of the world, New York City, the Beatles’ record label or just a good pie recipe. It would also find itself in a huge bidding war for its company name as a keyword should it wish to start promoting its brand through Google Ads. Microsoft, on the other hand, would receive a lot less traffic at first but as its brand grew (perhaps after hiring a top (B2B) PR agency to boost its brand awareness) it would see the majority of website traffic coming from its target audience. The higher ranking it would receive for its keywords because of this would increase the likelihood of new business coming in from people unaware of the brand but interested in the services Microsoft offered.
In reality it takes five pages of results from a Google search of the word “Apple” to find something that’s not related to every hipster’s favourite IT giant. But for those looking to create a new brand or company, the effect the name may have on SEO should not be overlooked. Months down the line you don’t want to be dedicating time and resources to simply standing out in search results from brands not even related to your sector, or despairing over the lack of business leads coming from your website simply because you chose the wrong name.