“Ask L2” is a weekly series where we answer questions about all things digital.

Question: How do I optimize my SEO performance on a smaller budget?

Smaller brands should not forfeit the fight for organic real estate because of their limited marketing budgets. For example, Matrix is among the top brands in organic search visibility across several categories, holding its own against behemoth brands such as L’Oréal Paris and Garnier. Matrix is the most visible brand in the treatment category and is second only to Garnier in organic visibility for hair color terms.

Matrix’s secret to success is the content it incorporates into its site and its ability to respond quickly to up-and-coming trends. The brand includes relevant key terms in the titles of its how-to blog as well as key terms in its URL strings.  


An opportunity for brands with a retail footprint is to improve organic visibility with Google Maps, which appears separately on Google’s main search engine. While brands have focused on the stats that highlight time spent on their smartphones by revamping their site design to boost organic visibility, several brands miss the fact that a third of mobile searches are location searches—growing 50% faster in volume then searches on mobile.

The organic visibility of a given store on Google Maps is determined by several factors, a good portion focused on the breadth of the store’s Google Maps profile. While 97% of Specialty Retail brands have provided the basic information, such as links and a store description, over a third don’t include photos or popular store times, and barely any include more advanced features like 360-degree virtual tours and the ability to check store inventory items.


And in sectors where retailers and third-party sites (e.g. TripAdvisor for Luxury Hotels) dominate search queries, brands can increase search engine visibility by building out their profiles on these competing sites. By investing in affiliate site pages and establishing partnerships, brands can create new conversion channels. Marriott entered into a strategic partnership with TripAdvisor on its Instant Booking platform. While the brand pays a commission to TripAdvisor for each room booked, it is one of the only brands with direct integration into the travel resource. The partnership, announced in June 2015, gives Marriott a fighting chance against OTAs on the site. While Marriott maintains relatively low visibility on the site, residing in the bottom quartile among Index brands, this is partly due to the brand’s expansive footprint. The seamless integration between Marriott and TripAdvisor funnels consumers directly from the research phase to online purchasing, closing the purchase loop. 


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