SEO

Top Spots in Organic & Paid Search = Branding

Achieving top organic positions in the engines or paying your way to the top through paid search is not only wise to increase sales but for branding as well. Searchers feel if your company is in the top positions of the engines, you must be important or popular giving them a sense of your brand.

A study by eye-tracking firm Enquiro sought to determine how the placement of search listings and sponsored search ads affect consumer brand perceptions, reports MarketingCharts.

enquiro google search sponsored listings brand association Top Spots in Organic & Paid Search = Branding

This study (which was sponsored by Google) chose Honda as a test brand to conduct its research and focused on consumers who were in the early stages of choosing a car model.

Key findings in the study:

  • Lift in brand affinity: Online consumers who saw Honda in the top ad placement and the top organic search result were 16% more likely to think of Honda as a fuel efficient car than when the automaker’s brand didn’t appear on the page at all.
  • Lift in brand recall: Online consumers were 42% more likely to recall Honda if the company appeared in both the top ad placement and the top organic search result, rather than just the top organic listing.
  • Lift in purchase intent: When Honda was featured in both the top ad and top organic listings, purchase intent for Honda increased 8%. However, other automaker brands absent from the page suffered a significant decrease in purchase intent – 16%.

About the study: Using Honda as a test brand, the study sought to quantify the branding impact of differing Honda listing placements on the search results page. The experiment was conducted using subjects 25 years and older who were considering the purchase of a new car within the next year. Users performed a search for “fuel efficient car” and the search results appeared in five different variations: a Honda-branded listing in top ad position only, top organic position only, both the top organic and ad positions, side ad position only, and not at all (control group). Enquiro measured eye fixation on the Google page and also surveyed participants to evaluate the search experience’s branding effect on each of the five consumer test groups.”

I’d personally like to conduct this same research using a brand that’s much less known than Honda. Do you think a brand name/business in top organic positions and top paid search positions can compete as a brand against a popular brand that is not in the top search positions? Can the little guys really get ahead through search engines in terms of brand recognition or had social media become the real brand maker online?

Pablo Palatnik is Managing Partner of eTrend Media Group, which specializes in Pay-Per-Click Management & Social Media Marketing.

 Top Spots in Organic & Paid Search = Branding
Pablo Palatnik is the author of the blog PalatnikFactor, focusing on all things Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization specialist for Fortune3, a shopping cart software company by online retailers, for online retailers.

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4 thoughts on “Top Spots in Organic & Paid Search = Branding

  1. WTF – Am I missing something!?!?!?

    Maybe I get different search results but… I use the Firefox plugin that retrieves unpersonalized results. This is what I see.

    Page Five of the report) Honda is not on the first page of Google for the phrase they tested… (fuel efficient cars). Of course you might see a small branding lift versus nothing at all.

    How long after the subjects made the query were asked “When you think of fuel-efficient cars, which come to mind?” I’ll bet it was immediately after. I wonder how long the effect lasts? I don’t believe it would last very long.

    Page Six) “A 2.2x Lift in Aided Brand Recall When Brand Is in Top Ad and Top Organic Listings”
    - “Which of the following brands do you remember seeing in the search results page you just viewed?”

    Again… Honda is not the #1 result. Not even on the first page organically for fuel efficient cars. (With or without quotes.)

    Page 7) Again… More references to the phrase fuel efficient cars as if Honda ranked #1 for that term.

    Page 8) Again… More references to the phrase fuel efficient cars as if Honda ranked #1 for that term.

    Page 9) They talk about branded queries and refer to the phrase “Honda fuel efficient cars”… However… Honda doesn’t rank on the first page for that one either. (With or without quotes)

    How can they justify making these claims?

  2. Maybe it’s also the simplistic two-syllable name “Honda” that’s contributing to the score?

    The name is also quite short, which means you can use more words in your ad’ copy.

    How might Daimler-Benz perform? Or maybe Smart?

  3. Hey hawaii,

    I think your “WTF” reaction may have been a result of missing this:
    “Users performed a search for “fuel efficient car” and the search results appeared in five different variations: a Honda-branded listing in top ad position only, top organic position only, both the top organic and ad positions, side ad position only, and not at all (control group). ”

    It was a rigged SERP to test positioning and the effect on response, that’s all. I don’t think they implied that Honda ranks #1 for anything, it was just a test.

    Confused me for a second too! ;)

  4. Thanks Mike… You’re right, I missed that.

    There are still some major omissions in the report though.

    Page 6) OK… People remember what they just now looked at. How long that effect last? 2 seconds? Two days?

    Page 7) It seems like they are asking people who are looking right at the search results page or immediately after looking at it and those people will experience a 8% increase in “Purchase Consideration” when two listings (Paid & Organic) are displayed in the top spots versus no listings at all.

    [Shocking] But again… They don’t report how long the effect lasts.

    Other test information that was omitted was the Click-Through Rates.

    I believe they tested the CTR because the “Heat Maps” show an “X” where people clicked.

    If there was an increase in CTR from “Only Top Organic” versus “Both Top Paid & Organic” why not report it?

    That type of obvious omission makes me think that there was no increase.

    Also… There is no real world data to support if the slight increase in “Purchase Consideration” experienced while or immediately after looking at the SERPS translates into actual car purchases later on or not.

    “Note: All subjects (N=2,722) are 25+ and considering purchasing a new car within the next year (test brand: Honda).”

    So what? A year from now… Are they going to tell us which group actually purchased more Honda cars than the other? I doubt it.

    In my opinion… I see Honda car ads all over the place, all the time. I doubt that the extra brand impression seen in the SERPS will matter very much.