Search engine marketing is about getting your rankings increased, working your way to the top of the search engine results, and boosting your number of qualified leads. Branding is about making your company’s name a household word, getting customers to react instinctively to your product, and engendering trust. Two completely separate marketing campaigns, right?
Not if you’re smart, says Michael Stalbaum, CEO of UnREAL Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency based in Narberth, Pa.
“If you think about it, branding is nothing more than getting your company’s name associated with an action,” Stalbaum says. “In the case of SEM, you want that action to be a mouse click. You pick keywords that you want associated with your brand. The search engine listing is a platform for building awareness of your product.”
If you type “cola” into your search engine, Stalbaum explains, you can pretty easily guess which companies will be listed as numbers one and two on a search results page. Both of those companies have spent years branding themselves to be synonymous with the word “cola.” Seeing the company’s trusted name at the top of the listings solidifies that brand in consumers’ minds, making them more likely to click on that Web site.
“You relate your company or product with a certain keyword,” he says, “and by dominating that keyword, you brand yourself. Remember that branding is a push medium, where you’re presenting your image to the consumer. Search engines are a pull medium — the consumer comes looking for something and finds you. You’re using one to drive the other.”
Finding, then dominating, relevant keywords is all-important, Stalbaum says. If your business sells fine watches, for example, simply going after “watch” as a keyword lumps you in with the thousands of watch sellers, makers and repairers on the Internet. But “discount watch,” “gift watch” or “platinum watch” may be just the keywords you’re looking for. The more specific and relevant your keyword choices, the better your chances of dominating them.