You'll examine the relationship between brand recognition and search results, and have the opportunity to form your own opinion on the validity of this approach to content processing. By the end of this lesson, you should also be able to predict how social media and other forms of web marketing relate to SEO, from big name brands to personal websites. This lesson will highlight how having a brand is not only important to your marketing strategy but can help to support and boost your SEO efforts. You will also learn what you can do from an SEO perspective to support marketing and branding efforts, brand is becoming more important to Google's relevancy algorithm. From a user perspective, they believe that searchers are more satisfied with their search queries when they see brands they recognize displayed in the search results. Google's belief is that users are familiar with these brands and thus slightly biased. Here is an example of how brands can rank highly in search results. In this example, I searched for Swiss chocolate and my first result is a website for the company Lindt, well-known for their Swiss chocolate. Many SEOs believe that Google unfairly rewards brands, especially big brands, with better search engine result positions. While a lot of this may also be correlation as big brands tend to earn more links, naturally have more people discussing the brand and social channels. There's a lot of evidence of Google favoring brands over relatively unknown sites. For example, we suspect from the patent analysis that Google has developed entity association. Entity association doesn't necessarily look for the presence of a brand but is trying to understand whether or not it can match a query to a specific individual or thing. Any identification of an entity might influence search results. For example, if I search for tomato soup, even though I didn't specify, I was looking for a recipe in my search result, Google-provided brands that are known for focusing on food and providing recipes within the top search results. If you look at these results, you see the top two results are from the same website, food Network, which is a well-known brand. Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea, has done a great job of examining Google patents and is a really interesting post about Google entity matching. I suggest you read the post and I've included a link to the page in your study materials. When you think about branding as an SEO, it's important to consider what factors Google might use in determining whether a site is a brand versus a potentially untrustworthy online retailer or spam site. Brands are more likely to have certain signals associated with them. For example, brands are more likely to have a social presence. Plus their social presence is likely to be more active than a spammy or generic site might be, since their users are more likely to engage with the brand. Brands are also more likely to have contact information listed on their website, probably someplace like an about page. This is likely to include a physical address, a phone number, and possibly an email or a contact form. Brands are more likely to have an established history, as well as an intention of remaining around for awhile. Google may determine this intent through signals like domain name registration and length. Brands are more likely to receive search volume for their brand name. For big brands, a lot of their traffic tends to be very brand-specific. Brands are also likely to receive more mentions around the web, both on websites and on social channels. It is highly likely that the authority of the website would also play a role. Google might also consider whether or not a site is participating in any other marketing tactics aside from SEO and social media. For example, if a company is also using a service like Google AdWords and bidding on their brand name. This might give Google more signals to recognize the fact that it is a brand. In paid search, brand keywords have been known to drive better conversions, as the searcher already has the intent of visiting that brand site in mind. Basically, try to think about what external quality signals could help your site appear more legitimate and trustworthy to both users and search engines. More external signals will also relate to better online visibility. To help build your brand and increase these quality signals, focus on providing value wherever possible. Let's take Zappos for example. When they launched back in 1999, they were a simple site selling shoes and offering quality customer service and products. By 2001, they had more than quadrupled their yearly sales and brought in $8.6 million. Zappos has very minimal advertising costs and mainly grew their business by word of mouth. Right from the start, Zappos focused their business model around customer loyalty and developing customer relationships. Their reputation quickly grew and their excellent service helped influence their brand perception and contributed to the viral spread of their business. An example of their unique customer service platform is when the CEO of Zappos was out bar-hopping one night and ended up getting a sketches rep that if he called Zappos customer service, the employee would be able to locate the nearest late-night pizza delivery place. The rep took him up on the bed and the call center employee was able to provide a list of the five closest late-night pizza restaurants. Zappos has always placed a lot of value on its customer service, and when they launched, the CEO decided to offer free shipping both ways, a 365-day return policy, 24/7 customer service, and more. This combined with stories like we just discussed, and a lot of mentions online links to their site, social media shares, and more, growing their brand and submitting their authority in the online space. Many SEOs and marketers operated under the false assumption that branding and SEO are mutually exclusive. In reality, these are two very powerful marketing tactics that work well together to support your business. In fact, a lot of SEO is helping to raise brand awareness by increasing the visibility of your brand online. It's imperative to have clear goals focused around how you can provide value to your customers, both online and offline. Offline efforts will translate to online mentions, links and more, and help your overall strategy. From an SEO standpoint, you can help your brand message spread through creating great content, developing and engaging social presence, and acquiring links from authoritative sites. This will also help to cultivate branded search and develop other important brand signals to improve online positioning. As an assignment, take a moment to consider how your favorite brands or websites offer value to their customers and how this might affect their SEO. Provide one specific example of a brand and less what their values are and how you believe that contributes to improving their online visibility. You should now understand the importance of brand signals to search engines and why search engines may want to analyze factors that imply a company is a well-known and trusted brand. From this understanding of potential algorithm changes, you should know what steps you can take from an SEO standpoint to improve your website and better position it as a trusted entity.