Brands Failing to Leverage Facebook to Boost Search Results

By Mikal E. Belicove|For Author's Draft|April 19, 2011

Nearly every single one of the world’s 200 leading consumer brands does a great job of maintaining a top or near-top ranking in search results for their brand’s name. But a study released this week shows that those same brands slack off considerably when it comes to having their Facebook Page represented in the top 20 Google search results.

The analysis by San Mateo, Calif-based BrightEdge, a software development firm that clams to manage more than $3 billion in SEO-related revenue, shows that nearly 100 percent of top 200 Fortune 500 brands are either at bat or in the batter’s box when it comes to Google ranking. However, the company’s research also shows that 71 percent of these brands have Facebook pages that don’t show up in the top 20 search results.

In reviewing the social media presence of these top 200 brands, BrightEdge said its research shows that brands fail to optimize their Facebook presence if their customers can’t find them easily in a Google search. And let’s face facts. No matter how engaging your Facebook channel might be, if a consumer doesn’t see your link in the top 10 search results, that link is much less likely to be opened. At the risk of sounding Zen-like, what we’ve potentially got here is the sound of one hand clapping. Or a tree falling in an empty forest.

A surprise in BrightEdge’s analysis was a finding that there’s not always a correlation between the number of “friends” or “followers” and the success of a search ranking. For instance, Nike has more than 4 million “likes” (i.e., Fans) on Facebook, but it’s Facebook Page doesn’t make the top 25 cut in search results. On the other hand, Volkswagon International with about 47,000 fans has a Facebook page that shows up in top 20 in search results.

Looking at the results from the big boys, what can you do — right now — to beef up your brand’s social media presence? First off, you can link to your Facebook Page from your business website. Conversely, you can link from your Facebook Page to your website to increase the search rank for your Facebook Page. Your Page’s admin can do this from the Website field, accessible via the “Edit Page” button at the top right of your Facebook Page.

And more important, perhaps, you can keep your Facebook Page fresh with updates and relevant content. That entices readers to like, link and share your content with others, thus potentially increasing the likelihood that your page will rank higher in search results. And because Google and Bing now include “social” signals in their search algorithms, it’s more important than ever that your content be spot on. As I mentioned before, Nike has more than 4 million Facebook fans, yet its Facebook Page fails to rank in the top 25 search results for “Nike.” Why? It could be because its Facebook page has only been updated 14 times since the first of the year.