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Melissa King on March 30, 2021 (last modified on March 31, 2021) • 12 minute read
When it comes to directing visitors to your website, search optimization is key. Organic search traffic offers about 20 times as many click opportunities as paid traffic.
But, in a competitive search landscape, how do you make sure that traffic goes to your website instead of your competitors’?
You want to encourage branded search traffic — visitors who want your product specifically.
To help you find ways to boost your branded search traffic, we consulted 72 marketers about their strategies. This blog post will teach you what is branded search traffic and how to grow it.
Let’s get started.
As Single Grain explains it, branded search traffic is search traffic that comes from branded keywords — keywords that reference your brand.
For example, let’s say that you work for a brand named SkyWalk that sells sneakers. Here’s what traditional SEO traffic would look like versus branded traffic:
See the difference? The branded keyword directly references your company. That means that people who search that term are in the market for your product specifically.
It’s also worth noting that branded search traffic applies to product or service branding related to your company. Continuing with the SkyWalk example, if SkyWalk has a branded product line called CloudRun, traffic related to the term “CloudRun” would also count as branded search traffic.
Branded search traffic is vital for your SEO results. According to Moz, branded search volume contributes to SERP rankings as much as domain authority.
Google Search Console makes it a snap to track your branded traffic separately from your general traffic. As we learned when we asked marketers about their favorite filters, you can create a filter for branded traffic in two steps:
Improving your branded search traffic might seem like a daunting task — how do you get customers to seek out your brand over others? Fortunately, most of the marketers we polled have control over their branded search traffic.
Due to this confidence, a similar number of marketers reported taking steps to influence their branded search traffic. They consider it an important element of their search strategy.
We’d also like to point out that while most of the marketers we surveyed work in tech or an agency, about 17% specialize in other industries. These respondents in other industries gave similar answers to the agency and tech experts. So, you can consider branded search traffic’s potential for change a universal rule.
Now that you know you can work toward more branded search traffic, what specific tactics can you use to reach that goal? We asked marketers for their go-to strategies, and here’s what they had to share:
Since branded search traffic is related to search, you’ll want to double-down on your SEO efforts, right? That strategy will certainly help, but as Zack Duncan from Root and Branch Group explains, you should also focus on your display ads.
Duncan believes that just as offline advertising like billboards can improve brand awareness, “Another upper funnel advertising tactic, digital display prospecting, should have the same effect.”
As you run your display ad campaign, Duncan recommends keeping an eye on any changes in branded search traffic. “Make sure you can measure the increased lift in branded search traffic compared to non-branded traffic by filtering within Google Search Console,” they advise.
This advice lines up with the takeaways we had when we asked marketers about the effectiveness of search ads versus display ads. While most of the respondents prioritized search ads, display ads served critical purposes — including driving brand awareness.
For Google users to search your brand, your brand will need to stand out in the first place.
London Office Space’s Harrison Sharrett finds that “having a strong brand name and trustworthy URL is vital to increasing branded search traffic to our website. Having a brand name like ‘London Office Space’ allows us to rank highly for this sought-after keyword and provides us with increased legitimacy in the market.”
As London Office Space’s name implies, it rents out office spaces in London. Its branded and general keywords overlap. You still have a shot at success if your brand name isn’t as straightforward. But, if it starts feeling like your brand name doesn’t relate to your business and you notice other reasons to rebrand, you might want to revamp.
Rio Rocket of Design Your Decade has a powerful piece of advice for improving branded search traffic: Let your brand voice shine.
“Through podcasting and using their voices, brands can create deeper connections with their audience and increase branded search traffic,” Rocket tells us. “The most powerful form of advertising is word-of-mouth, and there is no better voice for your brand than your own. By telling your story and expressing your passion and authenticity, you significantly increase your social media mentions and search frequency.”
In other words, the strength of your brand comes down to your connection with your audience. Consider why your brand does what it does and express that reason through the medium of your choice.
A classic content marketing strategy could also contribute to your branded search traffic.
Brian Meiggs from Smarts suggests guest blogging for improving branded search traffic, explaining, “Publishing articles as a guest blogger on industry-leading websites can give you a significant boost in traffic, provide access to a broader audience and ultimately increase conversions.”
According to Meiggs, when you publish quality content on one of your industry’s top websites, “you’ll have a proportion of readers who’ll carry out a branded search to find out more about you and your brand, while others will click the direct link to your website.” In other words, you’ll get both branded search traffic and direct traffic.
Mind you, effective guest blogging goes beyond submitting a post to any website and hoping the clicks will roll in. The right websites to guest post for will cover a directly relevant topic to your brand and have high domain authority. You can check a site’s domain authority with one of these techniques:
The first tactic will provide direct numbers and take less time, but the second works well when you don’t have SEO software.
Editor’s note: When you use a marketing tactic like guest blogging that drives both organic and direct traffic, the Organic vs. Direct Traffic Dashboard will help you tell them apart. It outlines the two traffic types and notes which landing page URLs your customers visit.
As you focus on your advertising and content marketing for brand awareness, don’t forget to check your website’s technical performance for search engines.
Atlas Creative Digital Marketing’s Steven Derevencha highlights the importance of an optimized site for any type of search traffic, including branded traffic. “Ensuring your site is correctly formatted & crawlable is vital to increasing your discoverability for branded search content,” they explain.
If you’re new to search engine optimization, Derevencha overviews how it works: “When Google, Bing and other search engines send spiders (bots) to crawl your website they are looking to see if the information is easily accessible, formatted correctly, and provides the user with a great UX/UI experience. Think of search engines as a concierge, looking to find the best option for your search experience.”
When search engines crawl your website, they look at its content and its code to determine if it provides a quality user experience. You should also keep in mind that Google hires quality raters to evaluate websites on a human level. So, you need to balance the technical and content quality of your website to achieve better search results.
Editor’s note: The Awareness Databoard includes metrics that relate your SERP visibility to your brand awareness. It provides a great starting point for finding opportunities to boost your search performance for more branded search traffic.
A little while ago, we mentioned the importance of word of mouth to boosting branded search traffic. Who better to spread that word than an influencer in your industry?
You can find influencers inside and outside social media — including those who specialize in your subject area. Look for figures in your industry’s community who people turn to for recommendations and advice. They might have thousands of followers on social media or take part in industry events.
At inBeat Agency, David Morneau goes the social media route. “Our agency has found a proven method of increasing branded search traffic – engaging with social media influencers. Small or large, social influencers can amplify brand awareness and dramatically increase traffic directly to your website,” says Morneau.
Morneau tells us that a little bit of influencer marketing goes a long way. “Simply by featuring your product a few times on various posts, influencers can send troves of their loyal followers to a search engine to find your brand, or send them directly to your website,” they explain.
When you create an influencer marketing strategy, keep the 7 pillars to influencer success in mind. Remember to have a clear campaign goal and choose an influencer relationship that works with your brand.
Your audience consumes many kinds of media, meaning that you’ll need to take a multi-pronged approach to improving your branded search traffic. This practice is known as multi-channel or omni-channel marketing.
“If you want to increase your branded search traffic, you want people to actually look for you. And, to do so, you want to implement an omni-channel marketing strategy,” Jonathan Aufray from Growth Hackers Marketing says. “Why? If your brand is active on many channels (Blog content, forums, social media, Q&A websites, etc.), people will actually Google your company to find out more about your brand.”
Nathan Thompson from houseof agrees, adding, “To increase branded traffic to your site, you will need to take a holistic approach to all of your marketing channels. Look for opportunities to guest blog, generate features on related sites within your topical area and explore ways to leverage other brand’s authority in order to increase your own. This will in turn increase searches for your brand. Other channels, such as paid search and remarketing, can help to increase brand awareness and in turn, will improve branded search traffic.”
Where do you start if you want to implement a multi-channel marketing strategy? Hubspot recommends establishing a buyer persona and target channels. According to Hubspot, good multi-channel marketing follows each channel’s best practices while staying consistent across channels.
Your audience is more likely to remember your brand when they see it online and associate it with a personal connection.
Digital marketing specialist Olga Tsimaraki aims to check both of those boxes by participating in Facebook Groups, recommending, “To get branded search traffic to your website, you need to get your brand mentioned online as much as possible. A great way to do so is by engaging in Facebook Groups. Use your expertise to answer questions people might be asking.”
When we consulted marketers about Facebook groups and pages, 40% of them said they participate in Facebook groups related to their brand. These marketers recommended taking part in Facebook groups for brand engagement and organic reach.
Brand loyalty and authority drive brand awareness, and customer reviews can improve those metrics. After all, your customers will trust other customers’ opinions on your product or service.
“Reviews help create brand loyalty while also increasing the number of organic searches for your brand’s main keywords,” Anders Rydholm of PrimetimePokemon.com points out. “So much so, they tell Google what kind of products you sell online.” In other words, your reviews contribute to your search results, meaning they impact search traffic like branded traffic.
Rydholm also vouches for customer reviews because of their persuasiveness. “When customers search for a product or brand, they want to know if others have had good experiences with it. If they can read about them on your online shop, most will want to buy from you as well. So encourage your customer to give feedback, especially on major sites like Sitejabber and Trustpilot,” they tell us.
You’ll need to take a proactive approach if you want your customers to review your products or services. Proven strategies for encouraging customer reviews include:
All these tactics have one thing in common: Open and clear communication with your customers.
Speaking of how people outside of your brand talk about it, did you know that you can manage your online presence outside of your website? Let’s learn how online reputation management (ORM) contributes to your brand reputation and its connected branded search traffic.
“Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the process of optimizing how your brand appears on the internet… on domains you don’t own,” Tommy Landry from Return on Now defines the term.
Many aspects of ORM go back to our previous point on reviews. Landry says, “Reviews are part of [ORM] and often the most important place to start cleaning up your digital reputation.”
“But, don’t overlook the power of simply having a profile on strong websites where you CAN have some input into how your listing appears,” Landry adds. Think business directories, social media pages and local search listings. According to Landry, the sooner you establish these online presences, the easier it becomes to establish a good reputation for your brand.
As you can learn from SEMrush’s guide, ORM requires dedicated effort. Comprehensive ORM practices include building a strategy, auditing your reputation, ongoing monitoring and careful branding. If you haven’t built ORM into your marketing strategy yet, it’s a tactic worth considering.
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