Search & Branding

February 10, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Last session of Day 1. Stay with me, folks! I need chocolate. Or maybe food. A milkshake? Yeah, a milkshake would be good. A chocolate milkshake.

Where am I?

Oh. Yes. SMX West.

Speaking we have Scott Edwards, Michael Kahm, Stuart Meyler, Melanie Mitchell and Julie Sun. None of them appear to have milkshakes.

Up first is Michael. Hey, hey, Michael!

Search Supports Branding

Searchers trust the engines to tell them which brands are most relevant for a keyword. Experiments by Google have shown that as a branding vehicle, paid search drives top of mind awareness. The study also showed that if a brand dominates the SERP, awareness of the their competitive set decreases. Therefore, you have no choice but to “own” the keywords that you want people to associate with your brand.

A recent Performics searcher behavior study found that 72 percent of respondents knew the product they wanted before they even began their search. Use your brand’s strength to get clicks by using your brand name and text such as “official site”.

Brand Term Bidding: It’s an offensive and defensive strategy

Leading eCommerce brands only receive 87 percent of traffic from searches on their brand. The other 13 percent is poached. Advertisers can protect brand equity and prevent poaching by maintaining visibility.

Brand terms drive more conversions than generic terms. Better bid strategies come from a deeper understanding of the entire search behavior leading up to the purchase.

Scott is next.

Branded paid search campaigns monetize existing search volume. Searches exist solely because of other marketing activities. Failing to capture branded traffic leaves money on the table.

Branded paid search campaigns should still meet performance goals. Everything goes back to ROI for your business. Think about goals in context of original media spend. Offline spend will only continue if you are maximizing your ROI from that spend.

Close the Loop: Keep Your Investment: Branding paid search monetizes other ad spend. Make sure to harvest queries non core terms. Are competitors bidding on your terms?

Talking about ads:

  • Engines beat us over the head: higher CTR = better ad
  • Don’t stymie your brand’s creativity – branded terms are much easier [Okay, but really, who says “stymie”? I mean, other than your grandmother.]
  • Match up ad copy with offline messaging
  • Whatever you choose, optimize against your goals.

The Essentials of a Branded Paid Search Campaign

  • Before you start, what are your goals? Every keywords should meet some performance goals
  • Let your users tell you what works
  • If you aren’t running branded paid search, you are leaving money on the table.

Next up is Julie.

Branded searches show demand. There is also a growing trend of using search as top level navigation.

You should use branded search terms as a barometer of marketing efforts across platforms, brand strength and market share. More brand searches = higher brand awareness. Duh.

Searcher behavior can also tell you a lot about your brand.

  • Brand association: What is being associated along with your brand?
  • Misspellings
  • Long tail terms

Optimize your brand

Make sure your brand terms rank everywhere: search engines, social sites, wikipedia, product review sites, and anywhere else your users will try to find you.

Search can tell you a lot about your brand strength, competition and opportunities. Use search to build brand strategy.

Next up is Stuart to share a bunch of case studies.

He goes through what he did pretty quickly, but here are the underlying results:

  • Most significant lift was achieved with top organic and top sponsored placement vs top organic alone.
  • Both top organic and top sponsored listings provide significant lift over control even when used in isolation
  • Side sponsored listings are less impactful when combined with top organic listings
  • SEM-driven brand lift seen across the board.
  • Negligible impact seen on consideration/purchase metrics.
  • SEO + PPC yielded the strongest gains in awareness metrics.


  • Both sponsored listings and organic SEO can have a significant impact on key brand metrics when used as part of an integrated communication strategy.
  • The combined impact of top sponsored and top organic listings has the greatest impact and is worth the cost/effort to achieve.
  • Coordinating top sponsored listings with top organic listings is essential.

Last up is Melanie.

Four Part Strategy

1 Use paid search to reinforce offline branding efforts

67 percent of people are driven to perform searches as a result of exposure to some offline channel.

2. SEO contributes to brand perception

39 percent of people believe that the companies who rank at the top of the results are the leaders in their field. [That’s horrifying.]

3. Blended Search results capture traffic

Optimize your assets for broader exposure to your brand.

4. Engage in the right communities

Clearly define your strategy. Know your customers and where your brand/product stands with them. Go where the conversation is, study it and study the speakers. Find an entry by appealing to their interests. Develop a readership by encouraging contact, responding.

Three Fundamentals to successful integrated marketing campaigns: It starts with the customer. It has to emphasize the customer behavior and create a seamless experience. It has to transcend campaigns.

The search engines are listening to your customers.  They know what they want, when they want it and how they want it. The smart marketer is going to use search to grow their brand. But are you listening to your customers?


Thanks everyone for sticking with us all day at SMX West. I’m off to go grab some food, hit up the IMNY Charity Party and then try to find some trouble. Woot! Catch ya tomorrow for Day 2. ;)

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