Does brand awareness impact organic search rankings?

By: Chris Hickman

In search engine rankings, everyone wants to be number one. And the best way to do so is by catering to metrics that search engines use in determining what result is most relevant to specific searches.

You can have traffic driven to your website from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And referrals (through hyperlinks) from other reputable websites can boost your ranking too. And if you are a well-known brand, your organic search results are likely to be higher than others.

When it comes to ranking in search results, good brands help companies more than many people realize. It gives them a competitive edge and give consumers the peace of mind they need to try new products. And when it comes to ranking in searches, awareness of your brand can help that, too.

Brand Awareness and Search Rankings

In 2016, UK-based SEO services company Stickyeyes performed an experiment to determine if brand awareness impacted organic search rankings. While the company refrained from conclusively stating that yes, brand awareness increases organic search rankings, they acknowledge there is some correlation.

Whether brand awareness significantly impacts search rankings or slightly elevates them, one thing is true: You need to use as many marketing strategies—both digital and print—that make sense for your company to promote your brand.

Offline Strategies

Consider these strategies to promote your brand outside the digital space.

Industry Publications

Industry publications are a great way for brands in niche industries to connect with an already engaged audience. You can take out a one- or two-page ad for your product or services and easily target your specific consumers. But one other way you can promote your brand is through a guest article. Think of it as guest blogging in print. By writing an article in an acclaimed industry publication, you can showcase your expertise in the field and draw awareness to your brand.

Print Advertising

Print advertising comes in multiples forms, so it’s important to determine what types work best for your company. Local businesses like restaurants and boutiques will likely find more success with outdoor advertising (benches, banners, billboards), newspaper ads, locally circulated magazines, or phone books.

Public Speaking

By taking the opportunity to interact with your audience in person, you are going to exponentially increase your brand awareness offline, which will likely lead to increased searches for your brand. You’ll already be speaking to an engaged audience, and you have a chance to strengthen your brand through speech and one-on-one interaction. Additionally, Adficient is a PPC management company, which can take advantage of public speaking opportunities to target the attendees with follow-up ads.

Online Strategies

Use these tried and true strategies to market your brand online.

Content Marketing

Content is one of Google’s two highest factors for ranking, so having a strong content marketing strategy is crucial, regardless of what industry you are in. One of the best aspects of content marketing is that it is expansive. There are various types of content you can create. Each has unique benefits, but all work toward increasing your brand awareness. Some types of content to consider include:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Downloads (checklists, etc.)

You can create whatever content works best for your company and budget.

Social Media

If there’s one place your customers interact, it is likely social media. From Facebook to LinkedIn, you’ll find your audience often frequents at least one of these platforms (if not multiple). And with the option to pay for sponsored posts and advertisements, social media is a great way to target new, potential customers. You’ll also want to make sure that you regularly post at least a few times a day. If you do not have the time or resources to do so, post no less than once per day each week.

It’s also important to respond to your customers: This not only builds your brand (shows you are responsive, honest, etc.) but increases brand awareness (friends and acquaintances will see you have responded). Also, like with public speaking, if you have a social media audience you can identify it makes it easy for a PPC management agency to target them with ads.

Guest Blogging

Take advantage of the large audience of another website by guest blogging. Showcase your expertise (and do some link building) by crafting content for a website in your industry. It’s a win-win situation. The website gets fresh content, and you put your brand in front of an interested audience while linking back to your website (which helps your search ranking).

Bolster Your Brand Awareness

To generate the most brand awareness, you need to use both print and digital tactics in your marketing strategy. Doing so will give you the best chance of reaching your current and potential customers, wherever they may be. And when they need a product or service like yours, they will know exactly where to go.


Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google.

Free events! Your membership just got better.

By: Bonnie Massa, AMA Chicago President

Earlier this year, we promised changes to your AMA Chicago benefits to ensure that your membership is the best ticket to your career success. Since July, you’ve enjoyed free registration for Connex, our bi-monthly networking events, as well as each of our Shared Interest Groups (SIGs).

It’s always been the Board’s top priority to gain ongoing feedback for how we are providing value to the Chicago marketing community. We do our best to connect with you at our events, and you may have noticed that we occasionally reach out over the phone, via email and even through traditional mail to find out how we’re doing. We make adjustments and improvements so that your membership continues to make a positive, significant difference for your career.

In case you haven’t heard it already, today’s message is: We hear you.

It is my pleasure to announce that, as an AMA Chicago member, you now receive FREE access to all of our monthly events! Your registration fees are waived for our Sunrise Executive Series and our Evening with an Expert. (By the way, our next Evening with and Expert event is on May 3, and the next Sunrise is on June 7.)

By making these events free, your AMA Chicago membership comes with an added value of more than $600 each year. This change is made possible through our growing network of amazing sponsors. (OK, and maybe a little help from unicorns and rainbows.) Our sponsorship team, board of directors and members like you have made lasting connections across our community to underwrite our events. It’s with pride that we can pass along the value directly to you.

Now more than ever before, your AMA membership is an all-inclusive ticket to the cutting-edge programming, resources and networking with the largest community of marketers in Chicagoland. In fact, are you aware that in addition to Chicago events, your AMA membership gives you access to 100 webcasts and podcasts, a job board, discounts, and member-only tools, templates and forms that help you do your job? We’re working on developing even more ways to engage, so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to stay tuned to what’s on the horizon.

So if it’s been a while since you mingled with your peers or rubbed shoulders with senior leaders in the industry, check out our events at a glance. I can speak for the Board with confidence that we would love for you to find one of us at our next event and let us know how we are doing!

Our ability to make these events free is another step toward making it crystal clear how much we value your membership.


Bonnie Massa is Founder and President of Chicago-based Massa & Company, Inc. She works with companies and nonprofit organizations to help attract new customers, find the best ways to segment and reach out to existing customers, analyze customer behavior to predict future behavior, and increase the value of their customer base. Bonnie has a BA degree from Lambuth University in Jackson, TN. She is a Market Motive Certified Practitioner in Web Analytics, Conversion Optimization and Social Media. She has achieved a Google Analytics Individual Qualification. Bonnie also volunteers her time as President of American Marketing Association Chicago.

A very special thanks to AMA Chicago sponsors:

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The Marketing Case for Legit Staff Bio Pages

By: Michelle Kaffko

We’ve all heard the saying, “put your best foot forward,” but I think that saying should be changed to, “put your best FACE forward.” In reality, many of our business contacts we meet virtually first or never meet in-person. Usually all we have to go by to see their face is their LinkedIn photo or a tiny Facebook profile pic. That’s why I’m going to give you a peek behind my camera lens and discuss why as marketing professionals we need to take a fresh look at your staff bio pages to determine what they are really conveying, to ensure they are working strategically for your brand. In addition, and maybe more importantly for every marketer’s mental health, I hope to help you combat the issue of receiving a fuzzy headshot from 10 years ago, because… just no.

It’s necessary to think about the importance of staff bio pages. If you check out your Google Analytics reporting, some of the most visited pages are normally “meet the team,” “about us,” “our staff,” etc. Potential customers, leads, and talent are interested in learning about the people who work at your organization, reading their stories and gathering information about what they do at the company. Because after all, people are the heartbeat of any organization. If your staff bio page is not putting its best face forward, you could be losing out on potential opportunities simply because your bio photos are not as professional as they could be.

My goal as you read this is to give you the tools and tips to strategically step up your organization’s headshot game.

First, let’s talk about your organization’s brand identity. We’ve all seen those websites that have a hodgepodge of headshots in the “meet our team” section. One dude has on a Hawaiian shirt while another is someone’s head that has clearly been cropped out of their wedding photos. This, undoubtedly is not what you expected to get when you asked everyone for their most recent headshot, and I’m sure it does not properly reflect your brand. However, don’t fret if this scenario describes your organization. This is 100% fixable!

On the subject of brand identity and cohesive headshots, the first thing as a marketing professional you need to do is decide what you want the look and feel of the headshots to be. Here are some starter words to get you thinking: stiff vs. relaxed, informal vs. formal, outdoorsy vs. office, biz casual vs. biz professional. Write out a three sentence statement that explains the feelings and emotions you would like the headshots to communicate when someone sees them.

Once you have decided on the look and feel for your organization’s headshots, let’s move onto clothing and posing, which should also match your brand! For example, if you have an auto repair shop, shoot your team in their natural environment and in their work clothes. This conveys industry authority and gives your target audience a look inside your team’s day-to-day. If you are planning headshots for a pharmaceutical company, a dermatologist, or financial sales rep, your clothing and poses will all be different. However, it’s important to come up with a plan. This will help the photoshoot day go smoothly and your co-workers will know what to expect, which puts everyone’s minds at ease. (For inspiration, check out some different poses, clothing and background options here.)

By this time you should have picked out a photographer you want to work with, communicated details on your brand identity and chosen dates to offer to your staff. Now that your prep work is complete, it’s time to schedule (cue the trumpets), staff picture day!

  • If staff picture day is going to send shivers down the spines of your employees, here are some ways you can put together a day that will put everyone’s minds at ease.
  • Send out all staff communications with all details for picture day, so nothing catches them off guard. Nothing freaks people out more than being told they’re going to have their photo taken and not knowing what to wear. Include details like the look and feel your organization has decided on, options for approved clothing, and makeup tips (e.g. don’t overdo it!).
  • Create an online sign-up form that enables your co-workers to pick a timeslot for their photo. There are lots of tools and apps you can use for this, like Doodle and Sign Up Genius.
  • Consider hiring a makeup artist and/or hair stylist to provide touch-ups before the shutter clicks. I promise ladies and gents will love this! It takes the pressure off everyone trying to look perfect, and they’ll be much more relaxed for their photo.
  • Let them know that the photographer will slightly retouch photos as needed. We don’t want anyone calling in sick that day because they woke up with a pimple.
  • Send reminders and updates as they become available, such as how early to arrive, where to meet and who to check in with. Remember, getting a photo taken is not most people’s favorite thing to do and they will need reminders to get it done.

Next up, it’s the big day! You’ve done your prep work, communicated details, and now it’s time to run the show. You’ll need to arrive early with your designated helpers to show the photographer where to set up. Make sure you get your headshot taken first to test the lighting and background, and to ensure the decided look and feel is achieved before proceeding. From there, it’s all about staying organized and staying on time! The last thing you want is someone waiting for 30-minutes past their scheduled time.

Ta-da, picture day is complete! Celebrate with a glass of champs, but the work is not over yet. Talk with your photographer about when you can expect photos and update your staff on the expected date. Once you receive all the files, organize them in a way that staff can easily find theirs on your company server, and send out directions on where to use their new photo, and most importantly, how to update their photo across all platforms. I know we’ve all run into that person who is not very tech-savvy and doesn’t know how to update their LinkedIn profile.

As a marketing professional, your job will then be to update all marketing mediums with the new headshots: think website, flyers/collateral, email, in office photos and more. Create a checklist of where all the headshots live, and start updating them.

Ok, before we wrap this up, let’s touch on the person who had the flu on picture day or how to get a photo of the newbie you hired three months later. Work with your photographer in advance to decide upon a solution for these scenarios. Options include writing into the contract that the photographer will return once a month or once a quarter to snap additional headshots as needed, or maybe the photographer can create the same look/feel in their studio and you can send your new hires there as needed. Whatever works best, just make sure it is worked out in advance so no one is scrambling later!

I hope you are now ready to strategically tackled your company bio and capture the best employee headshots! I promise it’s not as hard as it sounds, and it will be totally worth it for your company brand.

About Organic Headshots

Michelle Kaffko has been running Organic Headshots since 2005, taking corporate headshots and executive portraits for thousands of Chicago area professionals. Organic Headshots gets down to the root of why someone needs a headshot and for what purpose, enabling them to deliver the best product possible for all of their clients.