Get Your Logo in the Google Graph: What You Need to Know to Take Advantage of Visible Branding in Search Results

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By Serena Peterson, Sr. SEO Strategist for Covario

On May 15th, 2013, Google announced their support of special schema.org markup for organizations to utilize that indicates to the search engine what logo is the preferred version to include alongside search results.  For those not familiar with schema markup, it is a set of extensible schemas or tags that enables webmasters to embed structured data on their web pages for use by search engines and other applications. Much like HTML and CSS is utilized to style web design elements, extensible markup is a way to structure standardized data.

image 1

This article will highlight the steps you can take to prepare in advance for visible branding opportunities ahead of full-scale Google roll out of this special markup.  As mentioned on Google Webmaster Central Blog: “… we’re launching support for the schema.org markup for organization logos, a way to connect your site with an iconic image. We want you to be able to specify which image we use as your logo in Google search results.”

Easy to Implement for Visible Logos

Adding schema.org markup to the HTML source of your brand’s homepage is a simple update that can be done in the time it takes for a coffee break — provided that the right conditions are in place. The first step is identifying if you have a visible logo on the homepage that is linked to your site’s web address.

How to Identify if Your Logo is Visible and the Right Type for This Markup

  1. 1. The logo is JPEG, GIF or PNG format
  2. 2. The logo type is set to transparent and can be placed on a white background without loss, pixilation, etc.
  3. 3. The logo is visible and is not set as a background image using CSS
  4. 4. The logo is not animated
  5. 5. The logo is not a part of a large banner image (typically seen in WordPress blog designs)
  6. 6. The logo is linked to your company’s official homepage

If your logo meets the above guidelines, this simple markup is all that is needed:

“For example, a business whose homepage is www.example.com can add the following markup using visible on-page elements on their homepage.

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
  <a itemprop="url" href="http://www.example.com/">Home</a>
  <img itemprop="logo" src="http://www.example.com/logo.png" />
</div>

This example indicates to Google that this image is designated as the organization’s logo image for the homepage also included in the markup, and, where possible, may be used in Google search results.”

If you discover that your logo does not meet the above criteria, there is no reason to fret. Get in touch with your graphic designer to place a visible logo on your homepage that can scale to 151pixels, is set to transparent, will display properly on any background color and meets your brand’s quality guidelines and standards. Also note this logo will need to link to your primary brand web site address.

Why Does Google Really Want My Logo?

In the future, Google is hedging its bet that search and social will converge and become an integrated and daily inclination you’ll want to participate in at Google.com. It’s investment in the Knowledge Graph and the Google+ social media platform are coupled to provide the best search experience and preference for discovery whether it be shopping, local search, information retrieval or for human connection.

In addition, official brands help add authority and authenticity, especially when added to the social sphere of Google+. If Google can become the repository for all of the online brand knowledge for companies, they certainly stand a better chance at leasing out screen real estate and display ads to brands in the future.

For a glimpse at what this future search and social union may look like, take the example of search giant Yandex and its iron grip on Russian Internet (RUNET) usage. Yandex is not just the top Russian search engine, but a daily portal that is favored for its robust utilities such as email, video, photo hosting payments, news, image search, maps and traffic.

Mixed Results

Let’s look at a few examples of companies with and without a Google+ profile and how Google presents the results.

Google+ Sample: A search for the popular social media blog Mashable presents the company’s active and fresh Google+ profile results. The Mashable logo is pulled in directly from the Google+ profile and no additional schema.org markup is required to fuel this result.

image 2

 

Non-Google+ Sample: Now that so many brands have jumped on the Google+ bandwagon, it is hard to find a company without a profile, but one can see an example in a search for “Southwest”.  Google does not have a fall back Google+ profile to present for the popular airlines of the same name so it reaches into the Knowledge Graph for details and returns results for the Southwest Airlines Wikipedia article and some information related to the Southwestern United States.

image 3

So where does the logo come from? Google pulls it from the Southwest Airlines Wikipedia article.

image 4

 

What would further the brand identity of Southwest Airlines would be the adoption of a Google+ profile in addition to adding the schema.org markup to their source code. Remember in the above search, the query was simply “Southwest”. A branded search for “Southwest Airlines” returns no additional graph results because Southwest Airlines has not claimed its territory (see below).

image 5

No matter what branded results your company holds in the right rail of Google, implementing Schema markup for logos before full-scale rollout occurs can only positively impact brand search visibility and click-through rates in the future.

Join the Conversation:

Explore Covario’s Actionable Insights Blog. Get expert-level perspectives, recommendations and insights on a variety of digital marketing topics including SEO, paid search advertising, metrics and analytics and industry happenings. Share your insights and stories at http://www.covario.com/insights/blog/.

6 Comments

  1. Ryan Fortin

    Great article. Is there a way to have the logo shown as a rich snippet? Or would that be more along the lines of using the authorship tag?

  2. Serena Peterson

    Thanks for the message, Ryan. Since the Schema for logos announcement by Google on May 15th, some searchers have detected branded SERPS with a logo being pulled directly from verified Google+ profiles. In other cases, branded SERPS seem to be fueled by dual use of verified Google+ profile and rel=publisher markup usage. In the case of rel=author, this would pull a snippet from a personal Google+ profile. This article gives an interesting overview:

    http://searchengineland.com/google-displaying-company-google-logos-in-search-results-with-without-rel-publisher-165148

    While Google is possibly just performing a test, the perfect brand triumvirate would be to have all three elements in place (Schema for logos, rel=publisher markup and verified Google+ profile) for best outcomes.

  3. Steve

    This is something I surely missed so far.
    Or maybe it is that Google is still experimenting with it?

    Either case, I surely have to design a logo now.

    Quick Q: Is the company page that the logo has to link back to a self hosted page on one’s site, or do you mean by that a Google profile page? I’m not sure I got that right yet?

    Thanks!

    Cheers,
    ~Steve

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