How to Protect Your Brand With Competitive Search Strategies

  • Categories:

    Search

  • Date:

    May 07, 2018

How to Protect Your Brand With Competitive Search Strategies



Search

In a 2017 Statista report referencing the average daily activities of adult internet users in the United States, 72 percent of adults ages 30 to 59 use a search engine daily to find information. If you’re in the home product or homebuilding categories, this is an important demographic for your business. Search visibility is critical not just to gain your targets’ attention, but to compete for their attention.

First, take time to do competitive research. Use search engine optimization (SEO) tools such as SEMrush or SpyFu to identify your true competitors in search (both organic and paid). What keywords are driving traffic to their websites? What are their top URLs? Are they answering questions and providing information that your site does not? What are they communicating in their ad copy? What can you learn by conducting a full SWOT analysis including an audit of your own website? Answers to these questions will help identify content and strategy needs.

How else can you maintain a competitive edge to help your audience find your home product or service online? Beyond the usual content and SEO best practices, here are additional defensive (and offensive) organic and paid search strategies to consider. 

Paid search strategies

  • Pay for top search results until you can earn higher visibility organically. Paid search is a great complement to organic search because it allows you to purchase ad space for key terms important to your business via an auction. When visitors click that ad, it becomes an opportunity to drive visitors to the page most relevant to that search term, providing the information they have been searching for. This tactic can also help protect your share of voice if a competitor has purchased ads for your brand key terms.
  • Use ad extensions in your paid search campaigns to give searchers additional information about your products or services, options to contact you, sitelinks to specific landing pages for different products or services, or enticement to download your app. The click-through rates and conversion data on these ad extensions will tell you volumes about your visitors. In addition, these rates improve your ad relevancy and thus may help lower your cost per click.
  • Bid on competitive brand terms in your paid search campaigns. If your budgets are small, this may not be practical. However, I have found it to be an extremely effective and, in some cases, necessary tactic. It’s a great way to interrupt brand consideration to make someone aware of another option or combat a competitive strategy with one of your own. If the ad copy is compelling enough to capture these visitors, they are now at least aware of your brand. Use your landing page wisely to move them on to the consideration and conversion stages for your product or service. Be careful not to use dynamic ad insertion (which automatically inserts the key terms you’re bidding on into your ad). You’re allowed to bid on competitive brand terms but cannot use them in your ad copy.
  • Monitor competitive auction insights in your paid search campaigns and competitive visibility and keyword ranking improvements in organic search. Changes in either can indicate a competitive strategy shift or improvements and SEO work on a competitor’s website.
  • Consider seasonality in budgeting. It’s certainly easier and more practical to use the same ad budget every month. In many home product categories, especially in the homebuilding product category, there’s seasonality with higher search volumes in certain months of the year. This is also an effective strategy for the weeks following a trade show. Know your industry seasonality, and budget for success.

SEO strategies

  • Optimize your site for mobile now — don’t wait. We’ve been hearing for years that we need to optimize for mobile. Mobile searches topped the 50 percent mark in 2017, so you can’t afford to ignore this any longer. Google is in the process of rolling out its mobile-first index, meaning that if your website pages don’t deliver a good mobile user experience and your competitor’s page does, the latter will gain a higher organic position than your page.
  • Increase page load speeds. Studies show that many visitors will abandon your website page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Consumers want frictionless website experiences regardless of the device they’re using. Frankly, they won’t wait if they can find the information elsewhere.
  • Optimize for organic featured snippets by using structured snippets in your website’s coding. How are structured snippets and featured snippets different? Structured snippets help search engines understand the type of information that’s on the page, such as whether it’s a product page or a blog article about the product. Featured snippets are what Google provides as direct answers to searches without anyone having to click through to a website. They are featured at what is referred to as position zero (top of page). You may be tempted to say no way to this, as your objective is likely to get people to visit your website. However, studies have shown that featured snippets may actually increase traffic to your site, because they feature and reference your website as the authority on the subject matter.
  • Review backlinks (inbound links) on competitive websites. Backlinks are the largest influencer of search visibility. It’s difficult to rank without them, as they are votes of confidence in the content on your page. What are your competitor’s top 10 landing pages? What inbound links are pointing to these pages? Are these inbound links associated with page and domain authority? What content are they pointing to? Do you have better content? Or could you provide better content? If so, contact the authors or domain owners of the inbound links, and sell them on your content. Do something to earn that backlink.
  • Consider and optimize with voice search in mind. Smart speaker devices are predicted to be in 55 percent of households by 2022. I believe that penetration may be quicker given smart speaker affordability to fulfill gift-giving opportunities. Voice search usually features the longer-tail keyword and a more personalized search result. We see these search terms in our paid search campaigns (a great research resource for insights). Voice search is already available in most homes, as virtually every smartphone today has voice search capabilities. However, it’s compelling to have the ability to search for information the instant it comes into your mind, without having to stop what you’re doing to reach for a device. If you’re not considering or competing in this landscape, your competitors likely will be.
  • Expand search strategies to your social media efforts and beyond. Search strategies don’t just affect search engines. Social media, directories and apps are also searchable and show up in search engine search results. So, keep search strategies and opportunities in mind when you’re posting on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Stay current and remain focused on the searcher’s needs as well as your competitive business objectives. Reevaluate your strategy regularly. The search landscape is changing rapidly, and if you want to remain competitive, it’s imperative to stay current.