Can Search Engine Optimization (SEO) enhance your brand? A study I led for Info-Tech Research Group entitled Drive Web Traffic with SEO [1] found that it can.

Ranking high on the search engine response page (SERP) will increase your brand visibility, making it easier for your target customers to find your brand and products online, as well as any promotions you are offering. Here is a quote by one marketing practitioner we interviewed in the study:

Having a more prominent search engine response page presence helps proliferate and define your brand, as it creates greater online exposure and accessibility.

- Marketing Coordinator, Electronic Distribution

Being on Top: Prestige and Search Result Rankings

Not only does SEO’s impact on brand visibility increase the quantity of potential customers that learn about your brand, it also shapes the quality of their perception. A full 36% of Internet users surveyed said that seeing a company listed among the top SERP listings made them think the company is at the top of its field. Looking at both quantity of impressions and quality of perception together, we see that they are multipliers. Since SEO impacts both, the impact on brand equity is substantial. We can express both of these effects mathematically as follows:

          Increased Quantity of Impressions x Enhanced Quality of Perception = Increased Brand Equity

Perhaps this explains why all study participants with very thorough SEO said it led to improved brand image.

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SEO Improves Brand Image

We surveyed IT and marketing leaders in 95 enterprises that redesigned their Web sites. We asked them how thorough they were about their SEO efforts, and if the site-redesign that came out of that raised the image of their brand. We found that the high levels of SEO thoroughness were associated with improved brand image. The chart below summarizes this result:

Imroved Brand Image Graph
Fig 1. Thorough SEO is good for brand image.

Of the responds that were not very through in their SEO efforts, only 44% reported an improved brand image after the redesign, compared to a full 100% of respondents who were very thorough.

This suggests that the more thoroughly you integrate SEO deep into your overall web and marketing strategy, the more impact it has on brand image. A complete plan for thorough and effective SEO can be found in the report.

Bottom Line: SEO Builds Better Brands

Thorough SEO improves your brand equity. Not only that, but the same Info-Tech study found many other benefits which l have covered in posts on SEO and increased stickiness, increased traffic, and increased revenue and stakeholder engagement.

In addition to these direct benefits, SEO has certain indirect benefits. For example, most of what needs to be done for SEO also makes site content more appealing and increases the number of links back to the site. This combination of direct and indirect benefits makes the case for SEO even stronger, leading to an easy decision: just optimize it!

  1. Drive Web Traffic with Search Engine Optimization, Info-Tech Research Group, April 2010