Case study: how media can influence keyword rankings

Anecdotally, increasing display and paid search budgets has an impact on organic rankings and traffic levels. TV campaigns can increase organic rankings and traffic levels significantly. We’ve previously written about how social engagement can affect SEO, referencing brand search as a key factor.

We decided to publish this example as a demonstration of the effects a non-search campaign can have on search performance, which appears to be largely due to brand search.

  • The campaign involved collaboration with a bigger site via a referral scheme to promote a specific product (but did not involve followed links).
  • Other elements of the campaign focused on TV (and to a lesser extent YouTube).
  • The audience was given a financial incentive to become a customer of the specific product.
  • No changes were made to the website to reflect the campaign apart from switching out a banner (i.e. search engines were unable to understand the specific changes to the website).
  • The industry is highly competitive and the majority of brands inhabiting the top several pages of search results acquire higher authority links more frequently than other industries.

After the campaign went live in late 2015 Google Trends shows a clear increase in search interest for the specific brand and the specific product.

Google Trends interest over time

Search trends for a competitive “brand + keyword” term.

This is explicitly reflected in the keyword rankings held by the product page on the brand’s website, despite the absence of links being acquired to this page (or into the site with the context being this particular product term).

Searchmetrics sub folder visibility

Visibility for the keyword term (not including the brand) following the campaign launch. This represents moving from 21st to 13th for the keyword.

We made a few observations from the campaign:

  • Other keywords we’re tracking maintained the same search rankings for the duration of the campaign, indicating that Google understands that the website is a fresh, relevant result for a specific product based on the campaign but that the overall proposition hasn’t changed.
  • Google Trends shows an increase in brand + keyword searches, which would have been filtered as brand terms when we calculated a brand/non-brand split using Search Console’s search query report if we had been unaware of the campaign.
  • The purpose of the campaign was to improve uptake for a specific product, so clearly this is going to impact our conversion rate reporting. The landing page converted significantly better via organic search because of the increased brand presence in the query searchers were entering to find the website – there was a clear demonstration of intent and a greater brand awareness within the search.

After the campaign was over search interest returned to slightly higher than normal and search visibility followed similarly, which suggests the campaign – offsite, with no links back to the brand’s website – was primarily responsible for an increase in keyword rankings and SEO performance for the target product.

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