Brand searches frequently account for between 40 and 70 percent of all organic search traffic to a business website.
For service or product offerings, brand searches frequently signify that the searcher is "late" in the buy cycle and significantly more likely to make a transaction. Other times, these searches are conducted as a result off offline advertisement or reference from a respected influencer, such as a friend or a family member.
Regardless, branded search typically creates the highest conversion rates, the longest TOS (time on site), and the most pages/visit. In short, it's your moneymaker.
It's probably also the most neglected aspect of SEO.
Nightmare situations can frequently occur when negative content unexpectedly creeps into the SERPs of brand terms. This can include unfavorable reviews from companies such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. Additionally, unflattering blog posts or competitor squatting in search results can instantaneously have an adverse effect on sales.
Here are just a few ways to keep your branded traffic coming into your site with a positive outlook:
Creating branded social channels are a great way to instantly populate your brand's SERP with content that is completely controlled by your organization. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are great channels to get the ball rolling.
Additional algorithmic factors such as clickstream data and social sharing are expected to play greater roles over time, meaning significant (and natural) followership to these interactive content-sharing mechanisms will become increasingly important.
And no, I don't mean sign up for 50 Yelp accounts. For local businesses, offsite user review sites are exceptionally important in earning consumer trust.
If a customer/client receives great service, don't be shy about asking for a review. If you're a bit more modest, keep well-placed buttons linking to the conversations on web pages, social sites, or offline marketing material. Additionally, setting up a Google Alerts or using more sophisticated tools such as Techrigy or Radian6 can help you locate both positive and negative boards and conversations on which to unleash your team of loyal ambassadors.
Frequently, many marketers feel powerless when up against closed conversations. In this case, try ramping up conversations on more powerful domains.
Like any other web page, extend basic optimization strategies to your off-domain pages. This includes optimizing content (likely for brand names), creating rich content, and pointing/driving inbound links. For newbies, try seeding off-domain discussions on powerful domains that are thematically relevant.
Many companies with bad reputations have them for a reason. This makes them more inclined to try easy (and stupid) fixes such as sock puppet marketing, a.k.a. "I heard about product X. It's so good -- you should really try it!"
If you try these strategies, you will fool no one. It's no longer 1998, folks. Users are quick to spot this spammy approach and even quicker to call you out on it. The repercussion can often be even more brand damage (and possibly even more bad press).
Also, never try to sue the company that's hosting the forum or discussion. This is wasted effort. Be transparent, communicate with your audience, and do your best to listen and react to the community -- and build links.