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Predictive Power of SERPs

11 Dec

The Predictive Power of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

The top-ranked brands in those “Best/Most Valuable Brand” surveys almost without exception claim a significantly higher percentage of the Top 20 search results for queries for their own names than lesser ranked brands do. A reasonable explanation is that better-managed brands extend best practices throughout their entire operations, including online. And it’s a self reinforcing cycle: the more visible they are in the Top 20 search results (the only ones that really count) with positive, company endorsed content, the more traffic they get, the more customers they win, the more attention they receive from the media, analysts, investors, opinion researchers, and partners.

When measured over time, a brand’s performance in the Top 20 results can not only indicate whether it is maximising its online opportunity but can also anticipate increasing or declining interest from consumers, journalists and other commentators, which in turn is valuable knowledge for the investment community and acquiring companies. Of course, search results performance is only one metric of overall online performance. There are many others, but they key point about SERP performance is that the search engines tend to factor in those other metrics (broadly, metrics of strength and popularity) when ranking brands in their results. Tip: don’t just score the brand name; score the brand name with words like, e.g. complaints, scam, ripoff, unfair, layoffs, and other terms that suggest customer or employee dissatisfaction. And, compare several brands with similar market characteristics or financial fundamentals side by side. Look for company owned webpages, social profiles and apps, for desktop sites and mobile sites.

A brand’s weighted SERP score is thus more than a proxy for its historic overall online performance: it’s actually a predictive indicator of improving or deteriorating prospects.

Role- and activity-based KPIs for scoring online performance 2

24 Oct

Role- and activity-based KPIs for scoring online performance 2

RankTank is designed to deliver search performance Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), not as a SERP tracker or counter (though it can be used for that). It does this by ranking and scoring ownership of the combined value of the Top 20 search results positions, not tracking and counting individual pages. Here we suggest some approaches to setting scorecards  KPIs to meet the needs of various roles and functions within the company.

  • C Suite & Business Leadership: Corporate, holding company, brand, senior executive names and stock symbol ranked against 2 – 4 competitors. KPIs: share of search results value you control for a query for your corporate and brand names versus share controlled by all others.
  • Public and Investor Relations: Corporate, holding company and brand names ranked against 2 – 4 competitors for top keywords and issues. KPIs: share of search results value you control for a query for your corporate and brand names versus share controlled by Consumers, Media and Others; search results ownership on complaint and protest sites, retail investor discussions.
  • Social Media: Corporate and brand names and profiles ranked against 2 – 4 competitors. KPIs: share of social engagement metrics such as Likes, Follows; share of mentions, tags, citations for top keywords; share of corporate or brand-owned profiles versus consumer and other profiles in top Web and social search positions; rate of growth/slowdown in engagement metrics.
  • Marketing: Corporate, brand and product names ranked against 2 – 4 competitors for top keywords and issues in critical categories and topics. KPIs: share of search results value you control versus share controlled by all others; search results ownership on ratings, review, complaint comparison and coupon sites; app stores and gadget sites; sector and company/brand blogs, social networks and communities
  • Brand Management: Brand and product names ranked against 2 – 4 competitors for top keywords and issues. KPIs: share of search results value you control for a query for your brand and product names versus share controlled by Consumers, Media and Others; multiple Web and social search engines.
  • Sales, Advertising and eCommerce: Brand and product names, SKUs, paid media slogans, paid search/Adwords, campaign, QR codes, promotions ranked against 2 – 4 competitors. KPIs: share of search results value you control for a query for your brand and product names versus share controlled by Consumers, Media and Others; share by geographical locations, eTail sites, online partners/resellers,
  • Webmaster: Corporate and brand sites, blogs, portals and platforms ranked against 2 – 4 competitors for top keywords and issues, and against their categories and topics. KPIs: pages indexed for category, topics, brand and product names; pages indexed from brand websites, blogs and other company controlled platforms, # bookmark/tag sites indexed, # of multimedia files indexed (video, image, MP3, podcast) containing your KWs, # pages competing for your KWs.
  • Legal: Corporate, holding company, trademarks and other IP ranked against 2 – 4 competitors. KPIs: share of search results value you control versus share controlled by all others; law firms sites, attorney general, legislator and regulator sites,  brandjacker sites.
  • Human Resources: Corporate and brand names ranked against 2 – 4 competitors. KPIs: share of search results value you control versus share controlled by all others for a query for employment related topics, graduate entry, careers, layoffs, dismissals, hiring; search performance inside social networks and on employment and employer rating sites.
  • Customer Relations: Brand and product names, SKUs, customer contact points ranked against 2 – 4 competitors. KPIs: share of search results value you control versus share controlled by all others for a query for customer issues, billing, invoicing numbers, satisfaction, service locations, help lines, online FAQs and support.

The above are just a sample to kick start thinking about setting activity-specific KPIs based on how search performance (good or bad) impacts those different activities.

Role- and activity-based KPIs for scoring online performance 1

24 Oct

Role- and activity-based KPIs for scoring online performance 1

Online visibility — being findable and followable in Web and social search — impacts every aspect of business operations from sales and branding to reputation and recruitment. Below we’ve segmented out some of the different ways a strong online performance can help various roles and activities inside the corporation.

  • C Suite & Business Leadership. Studies show that the top performing companies and brands claim a larger share of the total value of the Top 20 search results than laggard brands do. Your strength or weakness in the Top 20 results versus your competitors is an indication of management best practice.
  • Public and Investor Relations. The Internet is the #1 information source for journalists, analysts, regulators and investors, as well as customers. When they query your company and topics associated with it, they should see the Top 20 positions dominated by company-owned pages, not competitor or detractor pages.
  • Social Media. Web search positioning influences social search positioning (and vice versa). A strong performance in the Top 20 results by your websites and social media profiles will help improve your visibility on social networks and in online communities.
  • Marketing. Customers, business partners, the media and others will form opinions of our company and your brands based on what they see (or don’t) of them in the Top 20 results. Your visibility has a strong impact on how a wide set of audiences interact with you.
  • Brand Management. A brand’s presence in — or absence from — the Top 20 search results versus its competitors is a brand statement in its own right. Claiming as many of those critical positions as possible is fundamental to successful online branding.
  • Sales, Advertising and eCommerce. The Top 20 search positions drive the lion’s share of click throughs and purchases. If your products aren’t in the Top 20, you’ll miss 80% to 90% of people searching for them. And, a strong organic search results performance helps your paid media performance.
  • Webmaster. The Top 20 search positions show the combined value of the sites, blogs, portals, networks and apps you’re tasked with managing — often on behalf of others. seeing how they perform relative to each other and to competitors helps you allocate priorities and budget.
  • Legal. The Top 20 search results are a highly visible indication of problems facing a company in the form of pages about, e.g., lawsuits, governance or regulatory action, trademark infringements. Controlling the top search positions for those topics dampens the immediate and longer term effect.
  • Human Resources. The Top 20 search slots are key positions for attracting and retaining employees — and for disgruntled ex-employees to vent. Owning the top search positions helps manage recruitment and retention efforts.
  • Customer Relations. Customers with questions about a service contract or a product return usually search online for the company’s contact points and policies. A strong showing of company sponsored pages in the Top 20 results will reassure them and pre-empt problems.

In effect, everyone has a role to play.

Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens cross-compared for brand name + corporate citizen against score for brand name only

18 Oct

RankTank took the 23 brands from Interbrand’s 2012 Best Brands report which are also on Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2012 list and cross-compared their score for brand name + corporate citizen against their score for their brand name only.

Of the 23 brands on both Interbrand’s and Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s lists:

5 have a better search results score for their corporate name + corporate citizen than for their name corporate alone and are overperforming for this topic (Chart 1).

  • Disney scores only 38 for its corporate name alone, but 78 for its name + corporate citizen — a positive gap of 40.
  • GE scores only 51 for its corporate name alone, but 65 for its name + corporate citizen — a positive gap of 14.

Disney and GE are ranked #13 and #6 respectively by Interbrand (Brand Value), and #2 and #19 by RankTank (Online Strength). They are among the best online performers for “corporate citizen”.

18 have a worse online strength score for their corporate name + corporate citizen than for their corporate name alone and are underperforming for this topic (Chart 1).

  • Nike scores 76 for its corporate name alone but only 10 for its name + corporate citizen — a negative gap of 66
  • Colgate scores 82 for its corporate name alone but only 22 for its name + corporate citizen — a negative gap of 60.

Nike and Colgate are ranked #26 and #47 respectively by Interbrand (Brand Value), and #30 and #97 by RankTank (Online Strength). They are among the worst online performers for “corporate citizen”.

See who’s overperforming and underperforming against their corporate citizenship investmwent at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/133642764/Best-Corporate-Citizens-ranked-by-Online-Performance

Companies in Dow Jones Global Sustainability Index Ranked for Online Performance for “Sustainability”

18 Oct

RankTank re-ranked the Top and Bottom 20 companies in CSRHub’s Dow Jones Global Sustainability Index (390 companies covered), comparing their ranking awarded by Dow Jones to their online strength using the rank-weighted search results claimed by each company as a proxy for performance on the topic of “sustainability”.

Out of 2,000 search results available to them for a search for their corporate names and “sustainability”, the 20 companies ranked highest out of 390 by Dow Jones for sustainability:

  • collectively own 920 results
  • give up 781 positions to “Others”
  • have an average ECR score of 46 (low-mid range of online performance).

Out of 2,000 search results available to them for a search for their corporate names and “sustainability”, the 20 companies ranked lowest out of 390 by Dow Jones for sustainability:

  • collectively own 650 results
  • give up 908 positions to “Others”
  • have an average ECR score of 35 (low end of online performance).

Find out which companies are getting the the most visible return on investment for their sustainability spending at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/133642796/Global-Sustainability-Index-ranked-by-search-engine-performance.

Proofs of Concept

9 Oct

In 2012, after 30 years in marketing agencies, enterprise Web development and content optimization, I founded RankTank. Other ventures in the works include a set of reports to quantify the Ranking Signals sent and received by a brand’s Websites and social profiles; and a methodology that scores 130 site and profile attributes and 170 social media and online community interaction elements, weights, cross-relates and rolls them up into comprehensive measurements.

Over the past few years, using this and similar scoring methodologies, I’ve run proofs of concept for or on:

  • Brand consulting agencies (including Brand Finance, Interbrand, Corebrand, Millward Brown, Intangible Business, KPMG and others)
  • Footwear manufacturers (including Merrell, Nike, adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Vibram)
  • Financial services (including Credit Suisse Holt, Collins Stewart,  Applied Finance Group)
  • Healthcare — Fybromyalgia — brands (including Pfizer’s Lyrica, E.I. Lilly’s Cymbalta, Forest Laboratories’ Savella)
  • US commercial real estate (including Aimco, Archstone, Avalon Bay, Camden Living, Equity Residential, Post Properties, UDR)
  • Spirits (leading brands including Wild Turkey, Crown Royal , Glenlivet, Johnnie Walker,  Jack Daniel’s, Gentleman Jack, Jameson, Jim Beam, Jim Beam Black Label , Red Stag, Dewar’s, Maker’s Mark)
  • US law firms (regional firm group Thompson Hine, Vorys Sater, Porter Wright, Taft Stetinius, Calfee Halter; major firm group: O’Melveny & Myers, Gibson Dunn, Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis)
  • Restaurant brands (10 Casual Dining, 10 Fast Food, 10 fast Casuals)
  • Tourism (13 international tourism destination brands)
  • ESG/CSR (rating oil & gas, mobile telecomms, media, leisure goods sectors for the corporate name + modifiers like responsibility, sustainable, polluter, “Global Reporting Initiative”)
  • US energy sector (including NRG, AES, PSE&G).

In some cases, my goal was not just to prove the search ranking concept (which I’ve published as http://RankTank.eu/), but also to prove out a deeper proprietary methodology that explains the rankings in terms of the quality of a brand’s website and social profiles (130 measures) and the depth of its interaction with social networks and online communities (170 measures).

Best Brands of 2012 continue to dominate online as well as offline

3 Oct

The Best Brands of 2012 continue to dominate online as well as offline.

On 2nd October, 2012, RankTank compared the online performance of 100 leading brands in Interbrand’s 2012 Best Global Brands report with their position in the brand league table.  As is customary, we use https://ranktank.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/weighted-search-scores-beat-simple-counts/ rank weighted search positions as the measure of online performance, specifically, the percentage of the Top 20 results each brand claims for a query for its own name.

Top level findings:

In 2012, the 100 Best Brands collectively claim 65.6% of the total available value of the Top 20 search results positions. This is consistent with other analyses we’ve undertaken since 2006, which show that on average the top brands claim 66% of their total available search engine value versus 30% for laggard brands.

RankTank rank weighted analysis of Interbrand 2012 Best Brands

RankTank’s rank weighted analysis of Interbrand 2012 Best Brands

The full report is at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/133640194/Measuring-Online-Performance-Report. It contains surprising conclusions on social media and a comparison between the 100 Best Brands performances in 2012 and 2006.

All brands were scored on Google.com Tuesday 2nd October between 1:30pm and 7:30pm GMT +1. We queried the exact brand name as in the report, without disambiguating or modifying terms.

Source: http://www.interbrand.com/en/best-global-brands/2012/Best-Global-Brands-2012-Brand-View.aspx