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To qualify as a brand by Google's definition, your business needs:
- A physical address - put an address and phone number on your contact us page and verify your listing on Google Places.
- History - if your website has been around for a while, generating links and receiving visitors, then you're clearly an established business. Likewise, if you have a new site, register your domain for more than a year to demonstrate you're in it for the long haul. You won't grab those competitive listings straight away, but setting the foundations early on will help you later.
- Quality content - this should speak for itself, really, but make sure every page of your website serves a purpose for visitors, and make sure that all your pages have content that is unique to the rest of your site and to the rest of the web.
- Relevant inbound links from authoritative sources - if trusted sites recommend your site, then your site must be trustworthy, of use to visitors and hence a legitimate business.
- Regular mentions in news sources, including relevant blogs - real businesses run marketing campaigns and PR campaigns. It's cheap and easy to put out online press releases and to reach out to relevant bloggers.
- Regular mentions/recommendations across social media platforms - real businesses have customers who have online profiles in places like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn who talk to their friends and will recommend products and services or discuss what they've bought and from whom they bought it.
- Positive reviews - real businesses put customer service first and as a result should have a positive buzz online, whether it's ratings on Google Places or reviews on Ciao, DooYoo, Epinions, Qype, Yelp or any number of locations. Just remember, these have to be real, from actual customers. You can get into legal trouble if you try to fake them.
- Relevant social media profiles - Real businesses take the time to be where their customers go and to interact with them.
What Google wants to prioritise in its index are websites that will deliver a good experience to searchers. They are trying to filter out affiliate sites trying to get between the actual business and its customers, Adsense sites, and thin content sites and scrapers who make money off display ads and people clicking on affiliate links.
As a business, what you need to think about is what you should be doing online to demonstrate that your website is more than just a waystation - that it is sticky for visitors, manned by people committed to delivering a good experience to visitors and finding ways to make the online experience more like shopping in a brick and mortar shop.
If you do this, you should see a boost in your visits and your sales.