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How Super Bowl Advertisers Can Maximize Visibility in Search Results

It’s no secret that people interested in the Super Bowl turn to digital devices during the game to watch commercials, interact with social networks, and get more information about the game and players before, during, and after the game. Many begin with search queries to find the content they’re interested in, and Super Bowl advertisers investing millions in a 30-second ad slot should be making every effort to gain visibility for relevant search results both with paid ads and organic links.

When it comes to optimizing Super Bowl-related paid search and organic campaigns, we have several tips to keep in mind for each heading up to the big game. Our upcoming Digital Bowl Report will examine how brands fared in each of these channels as well as other digital marketing efforts, and a webinar on Tuesday, February 7 will give listeners a chance to hear from the creators of the report themselves.

Brands Need Optimized Paid Ads for Relevant Queries Appearing Across All Device Types

1. Think Beyond Brand Keywords

Brands naturally need to have relevant ads appear for their brand keywords, equipped with Super Bowl-related copy and applicable ad extensions such as sitelinks. However, advertisers should also consider bidding on keywords related to the specific product or service that’s the focus of their campaign, as well as any hashtags, taglines, or celebrities associated with their ad.

Marketers would also do well to keep an eye out for competitors appearing among the paid results for their branded searches, as bidding on keywords for other brands’ names is becoming an increasingly common tactic. Brands forgoing in-game TV spots may attempt to get a lift by bidding on other advertisers’ brand names, capitalizing on surges in search volume generated by brands paying top dollar for premium airtime.

2. Mobile is a Must

Phones and tablets accounted for 57% of paid search visits in Q4, according to the Merkle Digital Marketing Report. As such, it is safe to say that a strong text ad presence on mobile devices is essential for advertisers. This is especially true during the Super Bowl, when viewers are more likely to be using mobile devices as opposed to laptops for browsing. Along these lines, brands should ensure their landing page experience is functional and enjoyable on all device types.

3. Don’t wait for kickoff to make a move

In recent years, many brands have started supporting their Super Bowl campaigns with short teaser ads in the weeks leading up to the game. This content is still an important part of the overall campaign and should be promoted through paid search. Some brands have taken to using ad copy as a way to let searchers know when specifically the full TV spot will be aired during the game. Links to the brand’s YouTube channel or a specialized website page are both solid options for landing pages.

Advertisers Need Optimized Super Bowl Landing Pages to Compete in the Organic Space

1. Create a Campaign landing page before the game

With advertiser announcements and teasers released prior to the Super Bowl, you need a searchable landing page that can capture organic traffic and backlinks leading up to the game. Not having a specific location to funnel that interest is a huge missed opportunity. This page should be more than just a press release or a YouTube feature on the homepage; it should contain the commercial, campaign content, and internal links so users can continue to browse your site. Including relevant content and targeting the on-page elements around your Big Game campaign increases the likelihood of ranking for Super Bowl and related searches.

2. Ensure your landing page is indexed and discoverable

After spending the time to develop a landing page, take the extra step to check that it is accessible for organic visitors. Make sure that it is indexed by search engines using tools like Google Search Console's "Submit to Index" feature. Remove any "noindex" tags that were included during development and review the robots.txt file to check that the new page is not being blocked. Finally, try searching for your landing page using queries like "Super Bowl commercial + [your brand]" to see if your URL is ranking or being outranked by a previous year's ad. If an old campaign is ranking, discuss the option of redirecting it to the new landing page.

3. Make your landing page mobile-friendly

The Super Bowl is a major second screen event, and it is crucial that the dedicated landing page properly display and function on mobile devices. About 51% of organic searches are occurring on phones and tablets according to our Q4 2016 Digital Marketing Report, and that percentage continues to grow. Test your landing page using Google's Mobile Friendly Testing Tool and browse it manually on your phone. Once a visitor has reached your page, the last thing you want is for them to bounce away due to poor mobile usability.

4. Direct Viewers to your landing page in the commercial

Help viewers connect the dots and easily find your Super Bowl landing page by including the URL or your campaign hashtag in your television spot. If your Big Game URL is not ranking as highly as you'd like in the search results pages, this is a great way to provide a targeted query for individuals to use when searching for your campaign.

By optimizing for both paid and organic search, Super Bowl advertisers can maximize the visibility of their campaigns in the search results and take searchers to the optimized landing pages with relevant content. Stay tuned for our 2017 Digital Bowl Report that will be released on Monday, February 6 and grades Super Bowl advertisers based on their digital marketing performance across SEO, pad search, digital media, and social networks.