Occupying the top of organic and paid search listings can not only pay off in terms of performance marketing – it can also have a big impact on consumers’ perception of brands, a new study has found.

Conducted by eyetracking firm Enquiro Research, the tests discovered “a significant correlation” between search marketing efforts and brand affinity, brand recall and purchase intent.

Using Honda as the test brand and ‘fuel-efficiency’ as the test brand attribute, the Google-sponsored study focused on consumers that were at an early stage in the process of selecting and buying a car.

It used eyetracking and a survey of the participants to evaluate various search positions’ branding effect.

It found that when Honda appeared at the top of the paid search and organic rankings, consumers were 16% more likely to think of the manufacturer’s cars as fuel efficient than when its brand didn’t appear on the page.

Participants were also 42% more likely to recall Honda if it was highest in both listings, rather than just top in the organic rankings.

The study added that there was “a significant lift” in purchase intent when Honda occupied the highest paid and organic spots.

Related research:

Paid Search Best Practice Guide

SEO Best Practice Guide

Related stories:

P&G stalls online ad campaigns, blames metrics