What’s the most valuable kind of search marketing? Not just organic (unpaid) search, but a very specific kind: branded organic search. Public relations shows its true power when measured, in part, by measuring branded organic search lift.

We define branded organic search as searches done by people for your name, brand name, or distinct product names. For example, someone searching for ‘SHIFT Communications’ is doing a branded organic search. Contrast this with someone searching for a Boston PR agency, which is an unbranded organic search.

Branded organic search is more valuable because it hints at stronger purchase intent. We might search for a San Francisco-based PR agency at the start of our search, but we aren’t exhibiting specific intent about who we might be thinking about. Searching for SHIFT Communications San Francisco is a much stronger search signal.

Unbranded organic search is vital for the beginning of the customer journey; the sooner someone can become aware of us, the better. However, branded organic search means we’ve convinced the potential customer to search for us by name. We’ve made a strong enough impression that they are searching for our name. In surveying, this is called unaided recall, and is a powerful signal for intent.

Let’s look at an example from 2015, where an unnamed individual was not doing much public relations for them self, but knew they would be launching a new book in Q1 of 2016. To prepare, they started doing more interviews, more bylines, more contributed content to build awareness of their personal brand. What happened?

Overall organic search traffic increased month over month:

Organic Search Traffic change, month over month

What about branded organic search?

Branded organic search impact on search

Branded organic search traffic became the vast majority of organic search traffic, almost 97%.

Did this impact business at all? Normally, public relations programs take 3-6 months of ramp time to show results; but eCommerce-based businesses can often see results much sooner:

Branded organic search impact on Cumulative Sales

As weight management ads often say, results are not typical – but possible. However, during this time period, nothing else was done significantly different. What changed was public relations outreach efforts and how they impacted branded organic search.

If you’re not already keeping an eye on your branded organic search results, start immediately. If you are, benchmark when your public relations campaigns land big hits and how your branded organic search changes – then measure that down your sales and marketing funnel. You might be shocked to see how much impact PR has on branded organic search – and on the bottom line.

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