If you’re like most marketers, you spend a lot of time and resources creating and promoting your brand through offline channels such as television, radio, and newspapers. Clearly, it’s something worth protecting. But what if you could improve your branding investment and make it even more worthwhile, reinforcing your offline branding efforts through search? Many search marketers doubt whether search can play a role in reinforcing brand perceptions. But evidence increasingly shows that the doubters are wrong: search can in fact play a powerful role in your overall branding efforts.
Today, search is ubiquitous. Given that, it can’t help but impact brand. Think about it: your customers and prospects go online every day, but what if you’re not there for them when they need you? What happens if they can’t find you?
It’s simple really. If they can’t find you, they’ll surely find your competitors. And when they do, what do you think their perception will be? Chances are, they’ll consider your competitors to be superior. In fact, research by our firm shows that 39% of search engine users believe that the companies whose websites are returned among the top search results are the leaders in their field. And that is exactly why you need to have a well thought out strategy to leverage search to help build your brand.
A three-part search strategy for building your brand
Use paid search to reinforce offline branding. Paid search offers the ability to control your visibility, messaging, and customer interaction—all key elements in brand building. But how do you go about achieving all of these objectives?
Start by building out a comprehensive keyword set made up of targeted keywords, which are relevant to your business and which your customers would search on to find information about your company. Then you need to target your creative or ad copy to speak to your brand’s messaging, and keep it consistent with your offline messaging. For example, do you have something that is uniquely different from your competitors? Do you have a discount or an offer? Make sure to use that in your creative and landing pages. In addition, be sure to create highly targeted landing pages that speak to your brand’s integrity, the benefit of choosing your company over your competitors and make it relevant to the keyword search, while keeping the “look and feel” consistent with your offline branding elements. Lastly, tap into the content network to reach the broadest network of customers by being in front of them during their every day interaction with the web. In the process, create tightly themed ad groups, targeted ad copy, and a consistent brand message, but don’t stop at text ads either: utilize other forms of creative such as image ads, videos, or flash to attract the user’s eye.
Leverage organic search perceptions. Organic search gives you the opportunity to drive relevant traffic to your site; however it can’t match the visibility control of paid search. So how do you go about growing your brand through organic search?
Considering that 39% of users believe that the websites appearing in the top search results are the leaders in their field, it’s imperative for you to show up in the top search results. In order to do this, you’ll need to create unique and valuable content that will drive up your rankings and solidify your brand presence in the results. You’ll also need to continue with your offline brand messaging, focus on the benefits of your brand versus your competition, and make it enticing enough to get others to link to you. Of course, you’ll also need to work on gaining valuable links from relevant websites as external linking is a major part of the success of an organic search campaign. By creating relevant content on your site, other sites will want to link to you as a valuable resource of information. But it doesn’t stop there; you need to pursue these links. Think of it as the PR of organic search. Ultimately selling the value of your site to those who would be interested in your content will help strengthen your brand.
Join the conversation in social media. Participating in social media allows you to take creativity, unique content, and linking to the next level. So how do you get involved in social media? Where do you get involved? And how does it impact search?
Start with a clearly defined strategy for getting your brand out there. It should be high-level and fit with the objectives of your brand. Then figure out which pieces of social media work for your brand and how best to interact. Should you be on Facebook? Should you be on Twitter? Not every social medium will be right for your brand, so how do you figure out where to start and when to engage? First keep in mind that this is not just marketing to consumers; instead, it’s actually interacting with the community. Given that, you need to get involved, and genuinely becoming a part of the community will go a long way to promoting the integrity of your brand. In addition, be mindful that social media affects search. It can be an extremely effective means for dominating the page, as results for Twitter, Wikipedia, blogs, and other social mediums are showing-up in the search results more and more every day.
At the end of the day, it’s your brand. Your investment. And not only is it worth protecting, it’s worth improving. Smart marketers will leverage search to improve the efficacy of their offline branding efforts, and in doing so, ultimately build the overall strength of their brand.
Christopher Wallace is a Client Services Manager at iProspect. He oversees the activities of Search Marketing Specialists and Search Marketing Analysts responsible for natural search campaigns, paid inclusion, shopping feeds, and pay-per click campaigns. The Brand Aid column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.