Are You Treating Search as Shelf Space?

Hey, Katherine Romero here, co-founder of MAKA Digital. Much of my career prior to agency life was spent building footwear brands in the digital space. The company I did that for was wildly successful and had a strong sales team whose job was to sell into the Nordstrom and REI’s of the world. I remember in one particular sales meeting, the CEO gave an insightful speech about what it takes to build a brand at traditional retail spaces. It took:

  • Having compelling POP – bright and colorful, eye catching, and have attractive people in the photography

  • Having eye-catching products – color pops, unexpected designs, collaborations

  • Knowledgeable sales people – people that can hype the benefits of your shoe vs the competition

And more, but those were the key points. This speech didn’t sit right with me, though. For a company with brands that have a strong Direct-to-Consumer channel banking double margins, why in this decade are we still counting on building brands firstly through wholesale and retailers? They are a key component of a holistic business, don’t get me wrong. But that can’t be central focus.

The New Shelf Space

Some of the most successful D2C brands out there understand that Google is the new shelf space. And dominating that shelf space is the key. Dominating doesn’t happen by just ranking well organically. That’s the first step, sure. But you really need to dominate that SERP with all the other tools in your tool belt. If you’re taking up page 1, that’s that much further you push your competition down the page and that’s that much more market-share you take.


Dominate with:

  • Google Ads: Text ads, shopping ads, and extensions

  • Your website: Rank as high as you can, have clear site architecture and get sitelinks taking up serious SERP real estate

  • Your social properties: Get your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds ranking well. Yelp too if you have a brick-and-mortar presence. YouTube as well if your brand lends itself well to YouTube

  • Your affiliates and partners: Feed top keyword data to your extended sales force and help get their content for your brand ranking on page 1

  • The Brand Panel: populate it with as much info as possible, upload compelling imagery, create posts, and populate some of the Q&As.

It’s rare that we find a brand that is approaching search with the mentality as traditional retail shelf space. (Nestle Waters, of all companies, gets it… talk about a boring, traditional retail brand.) But when they do, traffic shoots up, sustainable growth happens, and bottom-line profitability is often improved.

Not sure where to start for your brand? Let’s talk!