In 2008, Eric Schmidt let slip that Google would use brands as a signal to clean up the “internet cesspool. SEOs ears twitched. Quoted by CNET at the time: Web crawlers aren’t particularly good at making judgments about the truthfulness of digital matter, and the wisdom of the crowd can’t keep up with the river of data streaming online. Schmidt gave the magazine publishers hope for their future. Brands, he said, are the way to rise above the cesspool… Schmidt was talking to magazine executives who were concerned about competition they faced from low-cost publishers, like you and me 🙂 Whilst we can’t know exactly what aspects Google’s algorithms will reward, it’s not difficult to see brand factors becoming increasingly influential in search results, both directly and indirectly. Schmidt may be talking about a level of authority that the brand possesses, so is therefore trusted as an “editor”, but there may be something else going on, too. It might also be a question of clear subject/topic focus. Establish A Brand If your site has a very clear focus, in terms of brand identity, a number of search and social media benefits naturally follow. On-topic linking, context, and more. I’ll discuss this shortly. A brand is more than a name, graphic or logo. A brand is everything you do, from the way your position yourself in the market, to how you answer your emails. Brand is the total sum experience you offer. It’s also a collection of keyword terms people naturally associate with you and your site. Whilst it is expensive to create a national or international brand, you can create well-known brands in niches. Consider Amazon, WSI and SEOMoz. Those brand identities are clear, and I’m sure that a number of unique qualities for each brand springs to mind when those names are mentioned. Ways To Establish A Brand Philip Kotler, Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, identified the steps to developing a brand. Amongst those steps were: Develop The Value Proposition Choose A Broad Positioning For The Product This sounds like marketing guff, but what does it mean in practice? The Value Proposition No one can be good at everything – there isn’t enough time and resources – so what is the one thing you are really good at? Is this a value people are willing to pay for? Broad Positioning Kotler identifies three alternatives: the product differentiators the low cost leader the nicher Which one are you? It’s possible that a business can be all three, but such generalist businesses tend to be outgunned by businesses that are superior in one way. For example, Versace *could* do cheap items, but it would compromise...