Top Spots in Organic & Paid Search = Branding

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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.

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.

Pablo Palatnik
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... Read Full Bio
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