SEO for Branding
A new study has revealed that search engine optimisation (SEO) isn’t just about traffic, but can also impact brands. Tim Hoang reports on how companies should be looking to integrate SEO fully with the marketing mix.
Search engine marketing company, Enquiro Search Solutions has conducted a study revealing the full impact a successful SEO campaign can have. Many companies have already realised the importance of creating a strong online campaign for directing consumers to company sites through a combination of paid for advertising and website optimisation. For marketers, SEO is a dream - the tracking features of website logs enable marketers to monitor and evaluate traffic with input clearly accounted for and results easily measured.
However, it is much more difficult to determine to what extent (if at all), SEO campaigns can have on brand. The Google commissioned research, The Brand Lift of Search, revealed a direct correlation between organisations placed at the top of organic and paid for search engine results pages and brand affinity, brand recall and ‘purchase intent’.
The research used Honda as a test brand and sought to quantify the branding impact of differing Honda listings on a search engine results page. The experiment questioned consumers, 25 years or older and who were looking to purchase a car but were still early in the purchase process. In order to determine the effect of SEO on brand affinity, ‘fuel efficiency’ was chosen as the attribute. The findings were as follows:
When Honda appeared at top of both the organic and paid for listings, consumers were 16 per cent more likely to associate the term ‘fuel efficiency’ with the car maker than if it didn’t appear on the page at all.
There was a significant lift in aided brand recall (consumers were over two times more likely to recall Honda) when the brand again appeared at the top of the organic and paid for searches. The importance of a combination of a paid ads and organic listings was also highlighted, with consumers 42 per cent more likely to recall Honda if it appeared top of both searches rather than just the organic listings.
The ‘purchase intent’ of the consumers increased, again when Honda was listed at the top of both results. It was found that those who took part in the experiment were 8 per cent more likely to purchase the brand when this was the case. Conversely, when Honda did not appear on the search engine results page at all, ‘purchase intent’ decreased by 16 per cent.
Ken McGaffin, CMO of keyword research company, Wordtracker.com believes that in a Web 2.0 world, companies would be foolish to ignore the role SEO can play.
"What big brands tend to miss is that their major advertising and public relations campaigns influence what people type into the search box when they search. By anticipating that and using SEO to ensure that they find your site, you greatly enhance the reach and the ROI on any advertising campaign," said McGaffin.
"For example, Mattel in the recent toy recall crisis ensured through good SEO that their customer service department’s main page appeared in any search around the terms ‘Mattel toy recall’. The benefit to Mattel is not that ‘they come top of Google’ but that their customers find exactly what they were looking for."
McGaffin also emphasised that SEO alone will not determine the success of an organisation’s website. Only as part of an integrated marketing campaign can SEO truly deliver.
"Driving through the city, I noticed a Lurpak billboard with the headline ‘Leftovers’ and an image of little plastic containers of leftover carrots, turkey, etc, with the line ‘we call them ingredients’. The obvious inference being that Lurpak will turn your leftovers into wonderful meals and I couldn’t resist putting ‘Lurpak leftovers’ into a search engine."
"The good news is that Lurpak’s minisite came top: the bad news is that the content did not deliver. I was expecting some great recipes on all sorts of leftovers but there was just one leftover recipe in a meagre collection of just 15 from their ‘cookbook’. If Lurpak has allocated a few more resources to their web content, SEO and - dare I say - some social marketing, their campaign would produce much greater ROI," concluded McGaffin.
SEO agency, Just Search agrees; SEO cannot build brands alone and only as part of a holistic marketing campaign can SEO be of any real use. "SEO is an effective strategy for organisations to gain exposure and increase brand awareness. Used in conjunction with traditional PR and marketing, brands can increase visibility and ensure that both online and offline campaigns are sending out the same message to prospects and clients."