2512148775_61fa58b4b3A new LinkedIn Research Network/Harris Poll had some interesting insights into the minds of advertisers. When asked how they used Internet advertising, 79% said as a branding device. This number was higher than the 65% who said they use Internet advertising to drive information-gathering for an offline transaction or the 58% who use it to drive online transactions. Simply stated, advertisers in this survey are using Internet advertising more for brand recognition than to get people to buy. Interesting.

Internet advertising does offer the opportunity to target an audience based on the content on a page or website. Say a user is on About.com getting information on how to find a part-time job; it would make sense for them to see a banner ad for a site like SnagAJob or CareerBuilder. But not all ad networks can be so granular or have corresponding advertisers thus, while reading about part-time jobs, a user might also get banner ads for toothpaste, gift cards, or paint.

And what if the user hasn’t gotten to About.com yet? What if they’re using Google or Bing to find information? Or, let’s say, they read the About.com article and now want more information so then they go to a search engine. Wouldn’t it make sense for SnagAJob or CareerBuilder to be present in the search engine results thus giving that user another chance to see the brand and click to the website?

Search engine optimization (SEO) gives brands the ability to be found at that crucial point at which someone is actively looking for information (not just passively reading an article). And your site’s content is always a good match with what the user searched on because Google wants to provide relevant search results.

So let’s say, going back to the part-time job example, the user was actually reading an article about part-time jobs for stay-at-home moms. A narrowly focused banner ad talking about part-time jobs and written for a stay-at-home mom audience would be a great match. But would a banner ad be that specific? Not likely. However, if the user went to a search engine and did a search on “part-time jobs for stay at home moms” (very specific and long-tail, no doubt), the pages in the results would be tailored for that search. And hopefully SnagAJob and CareerBuilder would have a page about that topic for the user to read along with the About.com article.

One of the benefits of SEO is targeting by geographic location which can be harder for Internet advertising – even though some networks will target ads based on IP address (which can be spotty). Sure, SnagAJob could put a banner ad on the website of a local TV station or internet portal – but that is a lot of stations to contact and rate cards to evaluate. However, if a user searches on “Wichita part-time jobs” it’s simple for SnagAJob to have a page about that topic with a listing of part-time jobs in the Wichita area that then is found in Bing’s search results.

If you’re an advertiser thinking about how to get more brand exposure online, consider SEO for your website. The search engines are another place for users to find your brand.

Photo by Danard Vincente