Using Search to Analyze Brand Recognition Growth

What is your company’s brand awareness?  Measuring brand awareness is important for understanding the impact of offline and online marketing strategies.  Because brand awareness is affected by so many different marketing strategies, quantifying brand awareness is not always straightforward.

One way to gauge interest in your company’s brand is to analyze keyword search patterns.  Your analytics team may gain valuable insight by monitoring changes in search patterns for your company’s brand.

Relative keyword interest growth over time

A tool like Google Insights for Search provides keyword search volume trends (but not quantitative data) relative to total Google searches.  One great thing about Insights for Search is that, unlike in Google Trends, you can filter by timeframe, country and region, and business category.

With so many ways to slice and dice the data, you probably will find many uses for Google Insights for Search.  Besides helping to gauge brand interest, the tool can be used for doing competitive research, identifying negative keywords for PPC search campaigns, understanding regional search activity, and more.

For analyzing brand recognition, it may be most useful to compare a single keyword over multiple timeframes.  You can set a specific date range by month and year, or use the date range options provided.

In this example, see interest for the keyword “google” in the U.S. in 2008 compared to 2007.


To prevent skewing of the data, remember to filter out countries and regions if the keyword holds different meaning in those locations.  For example, Carfax is a well-known brand in the U.S. and Canada, but is also the name of a nightclub in South Africa and a location in Oxford, England.

If your company markets in specific regions, you may want to compare keyword search interest in various geographic areas.  Note that Google Insights for Search may not report data for a subregion if the search volume in that region is too low.

I tend to advise caution in using Google trending data alone to predict traffic.  If you know specific search volume for a keyword then you may make some assumptions based on Insights for Search information, but allow yourself some wiggle room.

Keyword impression growth over time

Another way to gauge search interest in a keyword is to use impression values.  The importance of this strategy is that it provides quantifiable data, which the trending tools do not offer.  You can control the timeframe (i.e., week, month, quarter) analyzed in order to make your analysis more precise.

Assuming that a PPC ad is displayed every time that a keyword is searched, you can use reported search impressions for that keyword to estimate search volume growth for that keyword over time.

You will want to limit your impression reporting to the search network only.  Exclude content network impressions – they fluctuate often (sometimes wildly) and as result are not suitable for trending.

Also consider keyword match type.  Tracking impressions on an exact match keyword will give you a much more accurate picture than tracking impressions on a broad match keyword.  For tracking and other purposes you may want to advertise on two versions of a keyword – broad match and exact match – in the same campaign.

If you run local PPC ads for the same keyword in multiple markets, you may be able to identify factors in some markets over others.  It may also be interesting to chart local impression growth against total impression growth over time.

It may make sense to track impressions only in one search engine, especially if a significant percentage of your traffic for that keyword comes from one search engine.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | How To: SEM | In House Search Marketing


About The Author: is the Vice President of Search Engine Marketing and Content Strategy at RepEquity in Washington, DC. Ms. Harris has 13 years of SEO and PPC experience, and has helped numerous companies, including Hilton Worldwide, and Carfax Vehicle History Reports, build their online presence. Her clients at RepEquity include eBay, UNICEF, PhRMA and South Carolina.

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