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How to get more brand mentions in 2019

By Will Stevens - January 18, 2019

For years, doing well on Google meant building links from trustworthy websites. That’s still true. In fact, there’s no successful site out there that doesn’t have a good backlink strategy.

But the internet is changing. Link building isn’t just about links anymore.

Since search engines are getting better at understanding what type of content users value, which sources they trust and whose opinions they listen to, brand mentions or “implied links” could soon be weighted as heavily as actual links.

So while backlinks from authority sites are still a strong ranking signal, going forward you should also work on building mentions of your brand naturally across the web, even if it’s not accompanied by a link.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can gain more linkless brand mentions and get more people talking about your business online.

What is a brand mention and why is it important?

A brand mention, also known as a linkless mention or an implied link, is the name of your brand or business appearing online. Think of it as a shout out for your business.

For example, someone might mention your business in a blog post, without linking to your website. That’s a brand mention.

Why is it important? Because when people talk about your business online, whether they recommend one of your products to a friend or they share your content on social media, it creates an organic buzz around your business.

The result? It increases brand awareness, which can help to boost sales. It can also enhance your search engine optimisation efforts since Google will see all those brand mentions as implied links.

Here’s the thing: the importance that search engines place on brand mentions isn’t new but they’re becoming more valuable.

At an SEO event in September 2017, Google’s Gary Illyes appeared to finally confirm that social mentions impact rank. Here’s what he said:

“Basically, if you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding… then you are doing great.”

Then, at Pubcon in December 2017, Gary talked about how Google uses online mentions in its search algorithms.

Although Gary didn’t specifically say that social mentions could help or harm a site’s rankings, he did confirm that social mentions play a role in SERPs: “The context in which you engage online, and how people talk about you online, actually can impact what you rank for.”

Google is not the only search engine that takes linkless brand mentions into account when ranking sites in the results.

At an SMX West event, a former Bing sr. product manager stated: “Years ago, Bing figured out context and sentiment of tone, and how to associate mentions without a link. As the volume grows and trustworthiness of this mention is known, you’ll get a bump in rankings as a trial.”

But enough about why brand mentions matter. Let’s talk about how you can get more people talking about your business.

Ways to gain more brand mentions

Many of the same link building tactics apply to building brand mentions but there are also a few new strategies that you can try. Here are a few to get you started.

Create and share great content

There’s no better long-term strategy to building quality links as well as linkless brand mentions like creating and sharing purposeful content with your audience.

Whether you have your own blog, which we highly recommend, or you guest blog on authority blogs in your industry, creating content that meets needs, helps others, and provides top-notch information is key to gaining brand mentions.

Think about it. If people find your content to be valuable, interesting, entertaining, they will react to it, comment on it, share it with others. Great content gets people talking and that’s how you earn brand mentions.

Now, if you’re not a fan of blogging, there are lots of other things you can do to share knowledge and get in front of your audience. You can leave a thoughtful response on someone else’s blog that’s relevant to your business. You can respond to questions on Quora and other industry-specific forums and groups. You can start a podcast, go live on Facebook or create how-to video series on YouTube.

Whether or not there’s a link involved, great content that informs, educates and delights your audience is one of the most effective ways to get more brand mentions.

Encourage and track customer reviews

With 86% of consumers reading reviews for local businesses, you already know that online reviews are important. Now, with the introduction of linkless brand mentions, they’re becoming even more important.

Since both customers and search engines take your business reviews into account, you should make it a priority to encourage customer reviews for your brand.

So when you solve a problem for a customer, or when a customer tells you how much they enjoy your product or service, encourage them to share their experience online so others can learn about it. The more positive reviews and brand mentions, the better. Read our post to learn about other ways to attract more reviews from customers.

You also need to be tracking reviews about your business. Use positive reviews to learn what you’re doing well but also to spread the word about customers’ fantastic experience with you. If you get negative reviews, which every business does, make sure to respond quickly and also to figure out what and how you can do better.

Stay active on social media

Brand mentions take place on social media. It’s one of the best places to go if you want to build brand awareness, get the conversation going about your business, and even boost sales.

So whatever social network you’re using to engage with your audience, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, make sure you stay active. Post regular, helpful and interesting content, go live, create your own public or private groups where you engage in conversation with your audience.

If you’re active and do a good job at interacting with your prospects and customers, they will take notice and won’t hesitate to comment, reference, discuss and bandy about your brand name.

Respond to customer questions and concerns

More and more people turn to social media to ask questions, to complain or to ask for support when they run into problems. Unfortunately, most brands are bad at listening to their customers.

According to a survey conducted for Sprout Social, brands reply to only 11% of their customers’ concerns and complaints on social media. And although 80% of companies say they deliver best-in-class customer service, only 8% of their customers agree.

What does this mean for you? It means that you need to pay close attention to what people are saying about your brand online. Take them time to read all their questions, comments and reviews and then respond to every one of them as quickly as possible.

When you receive a negative mention, let them know that you’re listening to their concerns and tell them how you’re going to help fix the negative experience.

Don’t forget to track mentions

Just as with backlinks, it’s important to track mentions of your brand to find out what people are saying about you online.

How? If users tag your brand in their social media posts, you can simply check your notifications to see what they’re writing about you. But what if they don’t?

That’s what social media listening tools are for. In this post, you can find seven great tools that can help you monitor your online reputation so that you’ll immediately know when someone says something positive or negative about your brand, even if they don’t tag you or include your social media brand name.

Also, it’s not just your brand mentions that you should keep an eye on, but also your competitors’. You can use the same social listening tools to see what they’re doing to grow awareness and what their customers are saying about them online.

Pay special attention to the type of content they’re sharing and how their audience reacts to it. Don’t just look at “likes” but also at reactions, comments, questions, number of shares. See if they have content or sharing tactics that you can learn from and if they do, find ways to include them in your own strategy.

Wrapping up

Brand mentions are becoming increasingly valuable, and putting the time and effort into getting more of your customers to talk about you online can push your rankings up.

Not only that but they also improve the perception of your brand online. In other words, more positive brand mentions equal more people who think positively about your brand equal increased trust equal more sales and repeat customers.