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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.

Scoring Brand Online Strength by Rank Weighted Search Results

10 Oct

Scoring Brand Online Strength by Rank Weighted Search Results

I first started weighting search results positions in October 2009 with a system that weighted the Top 20 results pages 20 – 1 (#1 result = 20, # 2 = 19 and so on down to #20 result = 1), for a total of 210 “points.”

RankTank's weighting system 2009 - 2012

This assigned 74% of the value of the Top 20 results (155 points out of 210) to the first 10, and 26%, (or 55 points) to the second ten, in a straight line progression.

RankTank's weighting system 2009 - 2012 weights

RankTank’s weighting system 2009 – 2012 weights

In actuality, results page values do not fall in a straight line progression but in a stepped one so in 2012 I modified the weights to the values shown in the application, which are:

RankTank's improved rank weighting system 2012

RankTank’s improved rank weighting system 2012

The new system assigns 66% of the value of the Top 20 results to the first 10, in a stepped progression that reflects how users interact with the results page in terms of a) scanning the list and b) actually clicking on results. By upping the value of the second set of ten, it also recognises their potential to move up into the first set of ten.

RankTank's improved rank weighting system 2012 position weights

RankTank’s improved rank weighting system 2012 position weights

Our business is scoring a brand’s online strength, so it’s important to score the degree to which a brand is protecting its top 10 position by blocking out the next set of ten with pages it also claims: Today’s #19 result can be tomorrow’s #9.

Ranking social media search results

30 Sep

In general, social search results are compiled differently from Web search results. They all use algorithms, but social search indexes are based on tags and social connections between people whereas Web search indexes are based on links and relationships between pages. Social search results are more personalized and so are ranked differently from Web search results, but you can nevertheless use RankTank to score a brand’s performance on any social network with a search function — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, video and image file sharing sites, social news and bookmarking sites (the latter are more like traditional Web search). RankTank’s social search tutorial is at http://www.slideshare.net/RankTank/using-rank-tank-for-social-media-14524519.