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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Attain SEM Success Through Authority

Build authority and improve ROI for your brand by combining SEO, PPC, and Social Media
Contributed by Ben Lloyd

A lot of the thinking we do about search these days revolves around this concept of authority. As the SEM industry has matured, we are beginning to understand that the interplay of PPC and SEO and Social Media enhances the perception of your brand as an authority and improves results.

The driving principles of SEO have always been content and authority (in the form of links). Since Google came around – this principle has never changed even as the tactics have. As the search results page has gotten more competitive, and social media has started shedding light on a brand’s strengths and flaws - it has become more important and difficult to cut through the noise and capture attention. Improving the perception of your brand as an authority can help you do this.

To command more authority – combine a well-executed paid search campaign with your organic presence and experience the pay off with better results from both. When your site shows up for your targeted terms in both the organic and paid portions of the results page – you’ll experience increased click through rates and conversion rates from the search results page. Not only do you own more of the search results page real estate, which gives you a better shot at capturing a click, but one could argue that there’s a gain in brand perception and credibility as well. When your brand appears in both organic and paid listings, users are more confident in your brand and therefore more willing to click through and buy from you.

Both of the following charts reflect data uncovered in a 2009 NYU Stern School of Business study on the effects of having an Organic (SEO) and Paid (PPC) presence in search engines

Figure 1: Click Through Rates increase for terms where you have both an organic (SEO) and paid (PPC) presence.

 Figure 2: Conversion Rates increase for terms where you have both an organic and paid result. Perhaps having a presence in both improves your credibility?

Building on this idea of authority, a 2009 eMarketer study “The Synergy of Search and Social Media” demonstrated two key points.
  1. Consumers exposed to a brand in social media and paid search were much more likely to search on the brand.
  2. That consumers exposed to paid search along with influenced social media had a 50% increase in click through rate on paid search ads. 
Demonstrating your command of and authority in the space enhances the perception of your brand and encourages click through.

Figure 3: Searchers exposed to your brand on social media and paid search (like Google PPC) are MUCH more likely to keep your brand in mind and search on it again.

Figure 4: The effect is even more pronounced when it comes to product terms rather than brand terms.

When it comes to SEO – authority is the name of the game and links = authority. Social media has been a godsend for SEOs. Any SEO will tell you that link acquisition is the hardest part of the job… A solid Social Media strategy can make the job easier. Not only have search engines started to incorporate social media signals into their ranking algorithms, but social media also makes it easier to put your content in front of people who can and will link to it. The publicity that social media can give your content can help your site acquire links AND influence those social media signals that search engine algorithms are looking for. As a result, your SEO should be a key stakeholder in your social media strategy.

Let’s take a look at the relationships here:
  • SEO and PPC both benefit when your listing shows up in both
  • Users exposed to PPC and Social Media are more likely to keep your brand in mind and search for it again
  • SEO and Social Media can work hand in hand to drive links and create the signals that search engines are looking for
To sum it all up – when you properly execute and leverage SEO, PPC and Social Media, you can enhance your brand’s perception as an authority and help it stand out above the crowd.

About Ben Lloyd
Amplify Interactive is a boutique firm focused on search engine and social media marketing with clients ranging from the high-tech B2B sector to lifestyle and consumer goods companies. Ben is also a co-founder and the current President of SEMpdx.

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