Last week was a trying week for me as on top of the normal day to day responsibilities of managing a search blog and a search marketing company, I was also managing multiple projects which were a bit out of my field of expertise.
We decided to renovate my condo just in time for the holidays with a major overhaul including tiling the kitchen, installing a new tub shower and toilet, tiling the bathroom floor and walls, painting and lastly, installing new carpeting. The carpet warehouse type places were a little overwhelming, and many had to actually order the carpeting from a much larger warehouse, then have it shipped, and installation would take another week. I remembered that Empire Today, which was a competitor to a past client of mine, promised next day installation on carpets, so I called them.
Their salesman came to my place Friday evening, showed me some samples, I selected the colors, I paid, then he placed the order. The result was swift and precise marketing and sales … the kind of environment I’m used to being a search marketer. Today, on Christmas Eve, Empire Today is going to install the carpet. Perfect.
In anticipation of the delivery, I searched for them on Google this morning and found quite an interesting array of search results which is a great example of the anatomy of a balanced and branded Google listing which is not very beneficial to the company and needs to be optimized : Empire Today.
First and foremost, Empire Today rules the top results for their brand on Google, for both paid and organic search. If anything, the AdWords copy kind of leads to the organic link itself, perhaps resulting in the user focusing in on the information and links given in the organic results. Very nice.
They also are blessed with very well represented internal links which feature their core offerings.
Scroll down to the second and third organic results however, and the results are Anti-Empire Today listings from the sites ComplaintsBoard.com and RipOffReport.com.
This is not good for Empire Today, as these complaints are ranked quite highly and can lead to a potential customer choosing another company over Empire Today, even when that customer had enough drive to search for their brand name.
What’s even worse is that ComplaintsBoard.com is full of Google AdSense advertising for Empire Today competitors and RipOffReport.com is littered with similar Kontera ads in their content. Hosting ads on user generated complaints sites is smart, but not for Empire Today.
Quick Fix : Empire and their search marketing team should really look into manipulating the Google results and knocking these complaint arbitrage sites off the top. Setting up social hubs on Empire Today throughout social networking sites like Flickr, Propeller and Yahoo Answers is one step, reviews from blogs would be another, as would social bookmarking and tagging.
I would also suggest that they try to target the AdSense boxes on these complaints sites with Empire Today ads or even ads for a site which praises Empire Today.
Optimizing videos of their commericals on YouTube, DailyMotion, MySpace, MetaCafe, Yahoo and AOL would also help them to brand the search results; especially in Universal Search (more on this below)..
The #4 thru #6 results are not that bad. The Empire Today Wikipedia entry is ranked #4, the #5 listing is totally irrelevant, and the #6 listing is a news story / press release from BizJournals about Empire Today.
Why Does Wikipedia Rank So Low?
ComplaintsBoard.com ranking higher than Wikipedia in a branded search result? What’s wrong?!?
The Empire Today Wikipedia page has some mediocre content about the company and its history; but it lacks a photo and only has 10 inbound links which come from outside of Wikipedia. This is not a well maintained Wikipedia page and some balanced additions to the page can be made to make it a gem, and rank above the complaints sites.
Quick Fix : In order to give this Wikipedia entry more juice, Empire Today shoud assign the role of Company Historian to one of their employees (or retired employees) and have them compile every aspect of the company they can from its incorporation to now, including the name of the advertising agent who did their commmercials and voice overs for 40+ years, information on carpeting and services along with an image.
I also would recommend a link building campaign to acquire good links to the Wikipedia entry from blogs and other sites which are relevant to their industry. One major step would be linking to the Wikipedia entry from their own site, giving instant credibility and relevance to that entry, and probably automatically advancing it to #2 or #3.
AdWords Sponsored Links
Even though Empire Today enjoys the #1 listing on Google AdWords, their national and local competitors are heating up the competition with AdWords ads and copy targeted to the Empire Today brand name. In fact, LumberLiquidators and DiscountsCarpet are using the search term, Empire Today as the title of their ad copy.
Luckily, they do not use the Empire Today text on their landing pages, so the irrelevance of the copy title to their content, URL and landing page help to rank them lower than the other listings, but this can still hurt Empire Today’s business and branding, as a lost sale can become a lost customer for life.
Enter Video Search
I mentioned videos and Google Universal search before and after viewing the Google Video results for Empire Today, I was shocked to see that although their happy-go-lucky commercial is ranked #1 on Google Video, the #3 ranking is really bad; it’s titled Empire Today and is of a bobble head doll of the Empire Today man going down in flames at the mercy of a blow torch, with lots of Empire Today branding and logos in the video!
Quick Fix : Smart video optimization including high ratings of their videos, content friendly titles and descriptions, customer testimonials, and guerilla videos of happy carpet laying employees.
The results on the first and second pages of Google for a search on the brand name Empire Today are a mix of complaints, press releases and job openings. Again, with the right touch and targeted linking and reputation management campaign, I do believe that Empire Today could have a much more beneficial showing the in results for their company, which are now a balance act of their site, Wikipedia, complaints, and news stories.
As a matter of fact, 8 of the top 20 results for their company are complaints about their service. Like I said before, these are very fair and balanced results from Google, almost innocently untouched, but a smart search marketing campaign could expand their positive branding and recognition from the world of traditional media, to the world of search engine marketing.