The majority of traffic through search engines originates from organic rather than sponsored links. With the understanding that Internet users are more responsive to non-sponsored links compared to their sponsored counterparts, it is important for businesses to identify ways to maximise organic web traffic to their website.
A 2015 study conducted by Baye et. al. has established that businesses who invest in factors such as the quality and brand awareness of its site increases organic clicks both directly and indirectly. The direct effect stems purely from consumer behaviour: the higher the quality of a business or service’s website, the greater the number of consumers who click its link rather than a competitor’s in the list of organic results. On the other hand, the indirect effect stems from the finding that search engines tend to place higher quality sites in better positions, which results in additional clicks because consumers tend to click links in more favourable positions. Based on these results they suggested that investments in quality and brand awareness of a site should be included as part of an SEO strategy.
As the processes of SEO usually produce results that increase the direct and indirect effects discussed by Baye et. al., it can be proven that through SEO a page’s rank can list significantly higher on search engines, which, in turn, positively increases the perception of website quality. With most internet users possessing a schema about the meaning of the search engine rankings, a correlation can be drawn between SERP rankings and brand equity. This theory is supported by Jansen et. al., who states that consumers’ schema regarding SERPs may function in a similar manner to a retail display schema in that display prominence could be indicative of brand strength. This is discussed in further detail in part two of our Brand Equity video series.