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brand mentions SEOMarketing, public relations and especially SEO pros widely recognize backlinks as the pillar for improving search engine results of the corporate and brand websites. Few realize that brand mentions can drastically improve search rankings. Some SEO experts call brand mentions the future of SEO.

Digital marketing guru Neil Patel points to a key paragraph in Google’s patent for its Panda update first identified by Moz. One sentence in that paragraph states: “An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource.”

Implied Links & Explicit Links

An implied link can only mean a brand mention, Patel asserts. A brand mention tells people about your site without linking to it, but people still find your site by simply entering the name into the search bar.

Acquiring backlinks, or explicit links, has been the main strategy for improving page rankings. But people have learned to game Google’s algorithm through link exchanges, private blog networks, automated programs and other techniques that Google frowns upon, often referred to as black hat techniques. Google may consider implicit links a way stymie those underhanded practices, Patel says. Google views brand mentions as social proof and an indication of a website’s popularity and quality.

“Mentions alone do not tell the whole story, of course, and links are still very important in the overall mix of factors that affect rankings, but it is now time to start thinking about how you can create brand buzz and grow those mentions,” writes Simon Penson of Zazzle Media for Moz. “My advice would be to begin thinking outside of follow links. Be happy to earn (and build) nofollowed links and mentions. Think outside the link, because there IS value in driving mentions and building brand.”

Steps to Winning More Brand Mentions

To acquire more brand mentions, digital marketers recommend:

  • Learn about your target audiences and their preferences through social media analytics to produce content they’ll love.
  • Seek guest blogging opportunities in either general interest authoritative sites like Forbes or Huffington Post or leading blogs in your niche.
  • Promote your content through social media marketing campaigns.
  • Turn brand mentions into explicit links.

How to Transform Brand Mentions into Explicit Links

Explicit links are still instrumental in boosting SEO, Patel notes. First use a media monitoring service to locate brand mentions. Paid media monitoring tools such as Glean.info offer more accurate and comprehensive brand monitoring services than free tools such as Google Alerts.

Determine the page rank and domain authority of the page. If the site has good scores, contact the site webmaster. Thank them for mentioning your brand. Provide them your website address and kindly ask them to link to your site.

Consider link-building opportunities beyond brand mentions, suggest Andrew Dennis, content marketing specialist at Page One Power. These can include online mentions of:

  • Employees
  • References to specific products or services
  • Coverage of company sponsored events
  • Common misspellings associated with your company.

“The number of mentions and link opportunities you can find are only limited to your own creativity,” Dennis writes in Search Engine Land. “Even if you’re a smaller business, you can search for internet chatter happening within and around your local community to find link prospects.”

Bottom Line: Brand mentions provide SEO value even if they do not link to your site. That means it’s now essential to track and report brand mentions. In addition, organizations can use media monitoring tools to identify brand mentions and transform them into explicit links for even greater SEO value.