Does offline branding have a place in SEO?

By Matt Janaway

Can offline branding and SEO work hand-in-hand?

The internet is now such an overwhelmingly powerful part of successful commerce, but whatever happened to offline branding? Is it no longer relevant?

At Marketing Labs, we hear so many businesses talking about marketing. Eventually scoff at the idea of TV, billboard ads and print advertising. Is it true? Are you wasting your time and money by implementing offline marketing and branding tactics?

One thing is for certain: marketing online provides the opportunity for hyper-targeting, because you know exactly what people are searching for, as opposed to posting a billboard advert in a city centre and hoping that a few people like what they see.

However, it’s worth noting that studies have shown that offline well-implemented marketing can boost your online performance by up to 40%. That means that although it’s harder to track, your offline branding efforts could bring in a huge online return on investment.

If done correctly, offline branding actually works! It’s not an archaic act, and it allows you to expand your brand to the point of full recognition. It’s funny that many of us thought that it was useless to focus on offline branding, considering how the biggest companies in the world still take out radio, newspaper, magazine, TV and billboard ads. Are we to believe that they don’t know what they’re doing? Or is their brand strong enough to continue offline marketing and be recognised for it?

  • Has online marketing evolved so much that all other forms of advertising are now simply best used to supplement your digital efforts?
  • What Are the Most Common Things to Prompt Online Searches for a Company?

Let’s say you setup an online store selling gardening equipment. You’ve tackled on-site SEO and online marketing tools offered through your eCommerce website builder, and now you’re ready to take it to the next level.

The first thing to ask yourself is whether or not you have the money to take on an offline branding strategy. After that, you can move onto the more common marketing techniques that prompt online searches for a company.

It turns out, TV ads are still prevalent, as are other techniques. The below figures show us that people still consider the following 5 marketing tactics useful. The % figures represent the amount of people who consider that particular advertising medium useful when making a purchase:

TV Ads: 44%
Word of Mouth: 41%
Magazine/Newspaper Ads: 35%
Radio: 23%
Billboard: 13%

Although this may not get you to jump out of your seat and advertise in a magazine straight away, it gets you thinking of how the offline world intertwines with the internet. After all, most of our lives are spent offline. It’s only once we login to our phones or computers that we start to use that information we learned about or heard about in the real world.

Google Takes Brand Searches into Consideration

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Here’s where offline branding truly has an impact in the online world. It used to be that Google and other search engines only cared about backlinks to sites. The theory was that if a website had thousands of links leading back to the site, people found it credible. Therefore, Google would move the rankings up a bit whenever more backlinks came through.

Google quickly realised that people abused this by selling and trading links, tainting their algorithm’s credibility.

However, due to recent Google algorithm updates, the search engine is now taking “brand searches” into consideration. This means that if someone searches for your company through Google, the search engine recognises that someone has shown interest. The more brand searches, the better your rankings. This forms a small part of Google’s Panda algorithm.

These changes have (or should have) brought back offline marketing as one of the leading ways to boost SEO.

Incoming Links Are Hurtful Without Enough Brand Searches

What’s refreshing is that Google is punishing companies that have built up too many bad links to their website. If a business has thousands of backlinks, but a small quantity of brand searches, this looks unnatural to Google. However, if you have lots of brand searches, Google will reward you for having high quality links too.

So the goal is to prompt users to search for your company online, while at the same time, naturally convincing people to write about your company and link back.

Some are saying that links are no longer king. We certainly don’t buy into that! But links are no longer the only factor. In fact one could argue that brand mentions, whether through blog posts or people typing in the brand, are becoming the new form of inbound links – only time will tell.

Wonderful Offline Branding Tactics

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Smart Insights has a great article about the top marketing tactics to support your online brand. Everything can be found in the image above, but it’s worth looking into a few of these examples to understand how these offline and online techniques work together. And here’s a guide explaining best tools to help you build links.

As an example, I once saw a speaker at a computer conference. After he wowed the crowd, he posted information about his social media accounts. In addition, he recommended that people sign up for his free monthly webinar. This is a prime example of how offline branding pushes people to your online business and boosts SEO through searches.

So as you can see, it turns out offline branding does have a place with search engine optimisation. It’s wise to conduct research before completely going all out with your offline marketing campaign. For example, some industries and companies perform well with billboards, while others are just wasting their money. It also helps to target based on demographics who may see your ad.

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