Building Brand Loyalty on the Search Engine Results Page

Jul 12, 2011 4:40 PM  By

Today’s complex world of search marketing entails more than enticing a potential customer to click a paid ad or natural listing. Online marketers must consider all the ways their brand is portrayed on precious search engine results page real estate.

Developing a positive image on the engines is so important because the future of search is bigger and more colorful than the individual text links of search’s early years. Success will come to those who learn to influence perception and drive traffic, leads and sales with the right messaging – communicated through traditional content and new forms of exposure.

Building loyalty and credibility on the SERP starts with dominating results and taking advantage of all options for increased visibility. True, a combination of text ads and organic listings is still an extremely effective method for building brand trust and more frequent purchases. In fact, according to Performics’ 2010 Search Engine Results Page Insights Study, nearly 50% of people are more likely to click if a company appears multiple times on the SERP.

Yet showing up is only half the battle, as positioning and ad content can significantly affect brand awareness. The higher your paid ad or free listing appears, the more likely it is to be seen and absorbed by searchers. Also, placing your brand name or URL at the beginning of ad descriptions creates a more indelible impression in the minds of searchers. If you don’t optimize ads with brand identity in mind, you will lose out on ample opportunities to grow your repeat customer base.

New types of search content are increasingly valuable to shape perception and mold a positive brand image. For example, the implementation of sitelinks provides advertisers with even more chances to send the right brand messaging to searchers. Companies should use this extra space on the SERP to strategically represent their product or services with buzz words or phrases that resonate.

Brands should also be cognizant of the increasingly visual and social SERP. Image and video results increase user engagement and integrate effectively with offline campaigns. The 2010 Performics SERP study also showed that 26% of searchers are more likely to click on a result if it contains a video, including promoted YouTube clips. In addition to videos, social networking brand conversations – good and bad – on Facebook, Twitter and other sites are more frequently appearing on the SERP as searchers look for quick, nuanced answers to complicated questions.

It’s imperative to engage users with interactive content that builds trust in your brand and provides potential customers with a forum to discuss products and services. Whether it’s a social media conversation, video, image or text link, the SERP is full of opportunities for building brand loyalty and trust.

Michael Kahn is senior vice president, client services at Performics, the performance marketing experts inside Publicis Groupe. Contact him at michael.kahn@performics.com.