How to Audit Your Brand’s Search Experience

Patricia Hursh November 30, 2022

You’re investing in a SEO improvement program and paid search ad campaigns.  You regularly review performance metrics for both organic and paid initiatives and are pleased with results.  Even with all this effort, you may be missing a much larger, more valuable opportunity: 

Understanding your customers’ search process, enhancing their search journey, and improving the role your brand plays in their search experience.

Search Marketing Success Metrics

It is not uncommon for marketers to manage two separate search programs – with one team of experts leading Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and another leading Paid Search/Search Engine Marketing (SEM).  Each team, understandably, focuses on a unique set of success metrics.

  • SEO metrics include: keyword rank, organic sessions, organic traffic, conversions and more.
  • SEM metrics include: ad impressions, impression share, clicks, CPC, conversions, CPL, etc.

While these are important KPIs that must be measured and improved, I believe they tell only part of the search story. Let’s take a deeper look…

Why Do People Search?

Your prospects have a problem or a question, they need information, they want to learn about something, or maybe they’re just curious about a topic.  They go to a search site (Google, Microsoft, YouTube, etc.) and enter a query or question.

Perhaps they enter a query that is directly related to products or services you provide.   Maybe they’re already familiar with your company and the query includes your brand.  What will they find?…


Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) include multiple types of information, including paid ads, organic listings, site links, featured snippets, local listings, videos, product ads/images, social content, etc. 

While most people do understand the difference between paid and organic information, the truth is that searchers want answers, and the vast majority will click on the information they think is most likely to solve their problem or answer their question, regardless of source.

Experience Your Customers’ Search Journey

Have you taken the time to actually “be your customer” and experience how your brand is represented (or not represented) when people conduct a search?  

I recommend that marketers regularly conduct (incognito) searches for: 

  • Your brand name
  • Product/solution names
  • Any trademarked names or phrases
  • Names of company leaders
  • Your lines of business
  • Highest priority topics
  • Problems you solve

The results might surprise you!  Let’s take a look at a SERP returned for a brand search.

SERP Analysis for a Brand Search

Conduct an incognito search for your brand name(s), and review the first page of results. Why focus on page one?  According to Moz, the first page of Google captures 71% of all search clicks!

Questions marketers should be asking about BRAND search results:

  • Is my brand dominating the (first) SERP?  
  • Is a compelling Knowledge Graph displayed?  
  • Do I see both paid and organic results?  
  • Does my listing include helpful site links?
  • If appropriate, do I have a wiki listing?
  • If helpful, a map result?
  • Product images?
  • Who else is showing up on page one?
  • Are they inappropriately using our trademark?

Considerations and Actions

Message Alignment.  You may have multiple ads and perhaps more than one organic listing displayed for a branded search query.  Review all of these messages.  Are they aligned and coordinated, or do they send a conflicting or confusing message? 

  • Most marketers want their primary (brand) organic listing to be informative and include site links to helpful webpages.  
  • Whereas search ads typically focus on branded products, services or solutions, include a call-to-action, and link to a specific landing page.  

Once you review these results you might need to make some changes in your SEO program or ad campaigns.

Trademark Treatment.  You may also see that competitors are advertising on your brand.  Per Google Ads Trademark Guidelines, advertisers are allowed to bid on your brand name (i.e. include your brand as a keyword in their ad campaign), but they are not allowed to use your brand in their ad copy.  It should be clear that they are not you, but rather an alternative.  If you see inappropriate use of your trademarks, your first step is to submit a Google Ads complaint.

Missing Resources or Content.  As you’re reviewing the SERP, ask yourself, “What is missing?” Does your company have additional content, assets, or resources that would be helpful to people searching for your brand?  Perhaps a video about your company, a useful app, a community site, or a recent press release.  If these aren’t showing up, it’s time to revisit your SEO plan and further optimize these pages.

Competitor Encroachment.  It’s also critical to understand, who IS showing up for your brand? If you’re not there… somebody else is!  Are companies outbidding you in paid search?  If so, review your PPC program.  Further optimize ads and consider changes to your budget and bids for branded keywords.  If they are outranking you organically, perhaps a competitive SEO assessment is in order to understand why, and reverse-engineer a winning SEO strategy.

Walk A Mile

I urge marketers to take the time to actually experience your customers’ search experience.  Repeat this process not just for branded searches, but also for queries related to products and services, problems you solve, and current market trends.

What can you do to improve your customers’ search journey? To make your brand experience more informative? More helpful? You won’t find answers to these important questions analyzing SEO and PPC metrics, so take the time to “walk a mile in your customers’ search shoes.”

If you’re looking for help in this area, contact Avid Demand and start improving your customers’ search experience and your search marketing results.

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Patricia Hursh is the president and founder of Avid Demand. Today she leads the agency’s Client Service Department, guiding multi-functional teams to ensure bottom-line business results for Avid Demand clients.  Patricia specializes in developing digital marketing strategies and full-funnel marketing solutions for B2B companies.