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20 May 2024

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Surround Sound SEO
How to increase search presence without ranking your domain

Complex buyer journeys, AI overviews, and powerful publishers competing for Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are just a few of the challenges facing brands looking to increase their search presence. 

Surround Sound SEO could be the solution to boosting organic visibility by monopolising the search results with favourable mentions in powerful places. 

The shifting buyer journey

The buyer journey is getting longer and increasingly complex. It’s no longer as simple as  “search for keyword -> convert”. When Google speaks about the concept of the “messy middle” it’s acknowledging that the point from awareness to conversion isn’t a linear funnel, but a complicated series of touchpoints. Once a potential customer experiences a trigger to start their purchase journey, they enter a period of exploration and evaluation that loops back and forth, and continues until they have enough information and confidence to make a decision. 

This is even more true for products with a high ticket value, long term commitments or multi-stage conversion paths. Here we are starting to see customers visit multiple sites, read reviews and look for social proof before mentally shortlisting a brand and visiting their website.

By expanding their footprint across the research phase, brands have a higher chance of landing on that shortlist. And that’s where Surround Sound SEO comes in.

Traditional SEO has limitations

Traditional SEO efforts focus on increasing the visibility of a brand against relevant keywords. Ranking with your own properties for these as frequently as possible is still a good foundation, but it can have its limitations:

  • You struggle to outrank publishers – When page one ranking objectives are not viable or too competitive, brands may be limited in terms of what they can do to boost visibility. For example, an HR software company may want to rank for “best HR software” and find that they are unable to compete with powerful publisher review articles, YouTube review content, or social forums dominating the SERPs. 
  • AI Overviews disrupt your visibility – Where brands are already ranking, the increasing prevalence of AI Overviews (AIO) has the potential to disrupt search visibility. Sources for AI overviews don’t always rank organically for the original query so ranking 1-3 doesn’t guarantee a brand will end up a source in the AIO, potentially impacting traffic.    
  • Your B2B content isn’t trusted – Even if your page is ranking, potential customers don’t always trust branded content and can tune it out. Particularly with B2B content, a US survey has revealed that 60% of  users placed more trust in content from independent reviewers than company websites.
  • Your share of search is limited – Working towards a first position ranking and occupying SERP features only entitles a brand to ~10% of the first page (one out of ten links). With potential customers scouring numerous sources for information prior to purchase, the influence over the buyer journey touchpoints is limited. 

As a result, search strategies need to be adapted to account for this new search environment and its inherent challenges. 

Increasing your search presence with Surround Sound

Surround Sound SEO, a concept coined by Hubspot, is the process of achieving increased visibility in search results separate to your own site’s rankings. It is the strategy of gaining mentions, coverage, reviews and positive sentiment across as many properties within a valuable search result as possible. With Surround Sound, the aim is to increase your brands presence on page one of the SERPs by piggybacking on existing ranking content. It expands a brand’s reach across the buyer journey by either gaining a mention or improving the sentiment on sites that rank highly for commercial terms. It brings together elements of SEO, digital PR, community management, affiliate marketing and organic social to:

Strengthen customer touchpoints

Securing a mention on a trusted publisher’s review article creates a positive and powerful customer touchpoint. By gaining and improving presence across 3rd party websites we can close in on 100% of the audience as well as plug the gaps where we can’t play with traditional SEO efforts. 

Boost your traffic potential

By securing mentions on a range of authoritative publishers, your brand could have a better chance of being included as a source or mention in AI overviews, as well as increasing referral traffic sources.

Build trust in your brand

There are trust benefits too, particularly for B2B brands. With B2B website content rated as some of the least trustworthy, being able to secure positive mentions of your brand in authoritative, trustworthy, and high ranking publications is a great way to boost trust in your own brand. As a result, the 81% of B2B buyers who buy the brand that comes to mind on day one, have a vastly improved chance of seeing your brand first when their SERPs are flooded with positive mentions of your own product or service.

Surround Sound SEO at RocketMill

Passionate about future-proofing SEO, we have designed and launched a new Surround Sound product to help brands tackle some of these common challenges. By auditing the SERPs for your high-volume and high-intent terms, we can assess exactly where and how your brand needs to be mentioned to make the biggest impact.

Whatever the challenge, our team of digital PR, tech SEO, and content experts work together to create a Surround Sound strategy that delivers what you need:

  • Increased brand visibility
  • Boosted brand trust and awareness
  • Help cementing your brand as an authority in its niche
  • Assistance mitigating the impact of AI Overviews
  • Reduced visibility of competitor content
  • Support moving potential customers from consideration to purchase

Future-proof SEO with Surround Sound

Surround Sound offers an alternative way to boost organic visibility when other primary or traditional avenues have been exhausted. With many brands facing the challenges of longer buyer journeys and AI overviews, search strategies need to be adapted now to ensure brands are agile enough to compete in this new search environment. Whether you’re looking to future-proof your SEO strategy or expand your search presence, a Surround Sound solution could ultimately increase the chance of converting customers and deliver additional measurable ROI.

If you’d like to learn more about how to increase your search visibility or the latest news in SEO, check out the RocketMill blog.