Director, SEO

The Importance of Brand Authority in Google Search

As branding takes center stage and budgets become tighter, it's more important than ever to establish your brand and authority. With competitors constantly fighting for attention and market share, it's vital to understand what triggers a Google search. Is it a viral TikTok video, an ad on Hulu, or a podcast? This mix of external influences shapes modern search engine optimization (SEO). It's about finding the right balance between your content strategy and reaching your audience effectively. Every piece of content you create is a step towards becoming a trusted voice in your field. So, how do you navigate the world of SEO, segmentation, and content strategy for success? Let's break it down and explore the essentials together.

Segmenting Content Strategy for Topical Authority

While tossing spaghetti against the wall might make for an interesting experiment in the kitchen, it's hardly a winning strategy for brands trying to keep the attention of their consumers. To genuinely capture the interest of audiences and distinguish themselves amid the overwhelming sea of content consumers encounter daily.  Flooding platforms with generic material won't cut it. Instead, brands need to embrace segmentation, refining their content strategy to focus on specific topics that not only reflect their brand identity and offerings, but also strike a chord with their target audience.

How can brands gain topical authority? What keywords or topics should they be targeting? At the heart of this refined approach lies segmentation—the art of customizing content to suit different audience segments. By grasping the diverse needs, preferences, and pain points of various consumer groups, brands can craft content that speaks directly to each segment, building a stronger connection and sense of relevance. One critical aspect of segmentation involves identifying "right-to-own" topics—areas where the brand holds unique expertise and can genuinely benefit its audience. 

While tools like SEMrush can help pinpoint quick wins in audience interests, it's crucial not to haphazardly churn out content. By focusing on topics where you truly excel, you can establish your brand as a trusted advisor rather than simply competing for keywords. This segmentation transforms generic content into a personalized experience tailored to diverse audience interests and needs. Now that you know what your audience is interested in, it's time to dive even deeper into their perception of your brand. 

Unveiling Brand Perception with Search Generative Experience (SGE)

To continue to capitalize on gaining topical authority and brand relevance, a powerful tool to supplement your content strategy is Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE). If you're not familiar with SGE, it's essentially a new way Google uses to deliver search results, offering AI-generated insights based on user queries. By leveraging SGE, you can gain valuable insights into your brand's perception, gather reviews, and understand consumer sentiment.

Google SGE results for good bike for a 5 mile commute with hills showing multiple purchasing options in the SGE result

To help you get started, we've created a couple of AI prompts you can ask Google, ChatGPT, Copilot, or any other AI tools to get an idea of topics you may want to target in search:

  1. “What do consumers think about {insert your brand name}’s service offerings? What is the perception of your brand?

  2. “What customer reviews say about {insert your brand name}? What are some of the company's strengths and weaknesses?

  3. “Is {insert your brand name} a good or bad company?

  4. “What is the general consumer sentiment regarding {insert your brand name}? 

After gathering results, turn to your team to analyze:

  1. What insights can be gathered from consumer perceptions?

  2. Are there any aspects of your brand that are currently being overlooked?

  3. How does your brand compare to competitors in search results?

  4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your online reputation?

  5. Are there any patterns or trends in search results and reviews?

  6. How can this data inform strategic decision-making for your brand?

As can be noted, SGE goes beyond traditional search metrics, providing a comprehensive view of how your brand is perceived online in a much faster way. This data is invaluable for refining your content and keyword strategy and addressing any blind spots you might have. SGE prioritizes content quality, relevance, and user intent, meaning your content needs to be informative and tailored to your audience's needs. Gone are the days of replicating existing articles to rank high; now, it's all about providing unique value. The greatest benefit of diving into your SGE results is the ability to identify your “swim lane” - this is the area where you can confidently say you have topical authority, expertise, and reputation to create content that will consistently rank high and provide value.

It’s anticipated that SGE will maintain its momentum in reshaping online traffic patterns. However, the extent of this shift will depend heavily on how search results are presented within SGE. While Rise SEO experts predict a potential 20-30% decline in clicks for brands in 2024, particularly for eCommerce, Google's ongoing experimentation with new features adds complexity to predicting exact figures.

Local Authority and Target Market Optimization

Another crucial aspect of building brand authority is optimizing content based on local authority and local markets. This is true for most businesses, but especially important for eCommerce brands, as consumer behavior varies significantly depending on geographical location.

For example, consider the impact of a user’s location when searching. When searching for beach clothing, the results shown in South Carolina may differ from those in Michigan, reflecting the best shipping, BOPIS, and deals around those particular products. This underscores the importance of understanding your target market's location and tailoring your content accordingly

Furthermore, localized optimization extends beyond organic search results. Did you know that Google Shopping is 100% powered by Google Merchant Center? Even though Google Analytics will report it as organic traffic, the actual information being displayed comes directly from Google Merchant Center.

Paid search through Google Merchant Center relies on optimized local inventory ads to ensure visibility in relevant geographic areas. For instance, a sports brand may lose visibility to national brands if its local feed isn't optimized for specific locations and a competitor can offer a competitive price with better shipping or BOPIS options. Therefore, optimizing local feeds is crucial for maximizing visibility and relevance in local search results.

Two windows side by side: Google Merchant Center on the left, Google main page with Shopping results on the right. Google logos in the top right corners. Lines connect, showing Google Shopping powered by Merchant Center

Whether within SGE or outside of it, Google is taking users' locations into account. Ensuring that local GBP profiles and local landing pages are optimized is becoming increasingly important. 

The screenshots below show the various areas in which products are prioritized and influenced by location. Influential factors to consider are: 

  • Store proximity to query

  • BOPIS and same-day pickup options

  • Product availability in-store

  • Special offers

  • Shipping costs

  • Product imagery within store

  • Categorization within Merchant Center and breadcrumbs on website

Examples of Local Influence on Product SERPS

Three screens displaying Google main pages for REI, an outdoor gear company. The first screen shows the main Google page, the second displays search results for the company, and the third shows a map screen highlighting stores selling the brand's equipment

Google Shopping main interface displaying various outdoor chairs with location, reviews, and prices

As search engines prioritize localized results, brands must invest in strategies to target local audiences effectively. This involves optimizing content for local search queries, leveraging Google My Business listings, and utilizing geo-targeted advertising to reach the right audience in the right location. By understanding and catering to regional preferences, brands can strengthen their authority and relevance in local markets, driving higher engagement and conversions.

Crafting Content for Humans and Machines

Understanding how machines perceive brands has become increasingly crucial in the age of SGE and advanced language models. When crafting content, brands must strike a balance between appealing to human readers and optimizing for machine interpretation and ranking algorithms. This equilibrium ensures that their content remains visible and relevant in online searches. Rise offers more than just development services; we're here to assist you in optimizing your content for SEO and providing insights into SGE.

By concentrating efforts on areas of competitive advantage rather than spreading them thinly, brands can utilize data-driven insights and human intuition to progressively build authority and credibility over time. Aligning internal perceptions with external realities and harnessing AI capabilities, brands can pave the way for greater success in their content strategies.

Ready to capitalize on brand authority to reach your audience? Contact us today!

05/16/2024 at 12:03