September 13, 2018 | Sarah Danks

PPC Branded Search Terms

Any good PPC manager will tell you you’re crazy if you’re not dedicating some type of effort to branded keywords within your pay-per-click account. But, you ask, why do I need to dedicate time, resources and — more importantly — money to branded terms?

Doesn’t EVERYONE know that a business website will ALWAYS show up well in SERPs (search engine results pages) organically for their own name?

Believe me, I used to be one of those PPC marketers. Why would I want to waste money on keywords in a paid search campaign that we’ll show up for anyway?

I realize this isn’t a novel concept — bidding on your brand’s name, URL, common misspellings, etc. — but since there are still PPC marketers out there that aren’t doing it, it must still be a source of contention.

When it comes to pay-per-click strategy, it shouldn’t even be a question of whether you’re bidding on your own branded terms or not. Not anymore.


Are You Bidding On Your Own Brand Name?

If you’ve ever managed even one PPC account you know the constant battle with Quality Score. Click-through rate (CTR). Bids. Etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the obvious — conversions. But let’s focus on Quality Score and CTR.

Obviously the better your Quality Score is, the less you have to pay per click; the more visibility your ads have; the more likelihood of even more clicks. And, the better your click-through rate is, the better your Quality Score is.

In this case you can circumvent the whole chicken-and-egg thing (although, did you know the egg actually came first?) by the simple addition of branded keywords.

There are myriad reasons to include branded search terms in any pay-per-click campaign; here are just a few — six, to be exact — that we’d like to share with you.

1) Increases the “Grade” for Your Account

What? We’re being tested?

Okay, so you’ve added a branded keyword campaign (or however you want to separate it out). It’s doing well — high CTR, low CPC, etc. Well, guess what? That raises the bell curve and increases the Quality Score of the entire account, that’s what it does.

It’s like the smartest kid in your college calculus class getting a 96% on every single test while the rest of the students might be struggling for a B…

…or, in my case, a C. Minus. Only, in this case, you WANT that smart kid to be teacher’s pet. Because if even one student is stellar and outshines the rest, the grade of the entire class rises; everyone does better collectively.

Thus, having a branded keyword segment — however much “space” you want to dedicate to it — in your account will automatically increase the Quality Score of your entire account. And everyone loves getting a higher grade.

2) Cheap Traffic

That’s right, I said cheap.

And in a world of monitoring each advertising penniesdollar, that counts. Something that automatically boosts your CTR — and Quality Score — is having a campaign dedicated solely to branded keywords. Think about it: your branded keywords are going to be über-relevant to your ads and landing pages. Insta-Quality Score boost…

…which translates to lower cost-per-click (CPC). Branded queries will automatically shoot your (branded) ads to the top of the SERP, which is money.

People click. Even if they don’t, and opt for your organic listing instead, no biggie. It’s still the cheapest traffic you can bid on. Like, pennies (or penny) on the dollar. Here, it’s okay to be a miser.

Seriously, this is the least expensive traffic you can get anywhere online!

3) Grab Up Lots of Real Estate 

Anyone who’s ever bought a piece of property knows it’s all about WHERE your asset is that matters.

houses-aerial-viewSimilarly, you want to be taking advantage of branded terms to own as much of the SERP real estate as you can. Obviously you want to do this with all of your ad groups/keywords, but it’s nearly impossible to show up well organically AND in the paid neighborhood for all your keywords.

Investing in branded keywords gives you an added boost. Not only will your website show up organically, your branded ad will also show up, too (most likely in the prime real estate: at the tippy-top of the SERP).

Again, visitors can click on either — it doesn’t hurt to get free rent here. So, make a down payment and leverage your brand for location, location, location.

4) Be a Yummy Brand

No, this isn’t about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar.

piece-of-pieRather, let’s discuss brand messaging. Why am I flapping my pie-hole about brand messaging in relation to pay-per-click? Because, especially with branded-keyword ads, you can entirely control the way your brand comes across in a SERP. Which is sweet.

But, but, isn’t that what my WEBSITE does?” you ask incredulously. Well, yeah, once people click on it. But since Google can change <title> tags and meta descriptions in the search engine results to fit their own needs, you might want to cook up a solid, “THIS is what I want to tell people about our brand” listing.

And the way to ensure that people eat up your specific brand message is with your ad copy for your branded keywords. Sure, sure, you can stir some of that in to any of your PPC ads, but not to the degree you can when people are searching for your specific recipe.

Tell ’em the summary of your company. Short, sweet-as-Mom’s-sugar-cookies and to-the-point.


5) Be Competitive

B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E! C’mon, you know the high school cheer! Dang, I left my pom poms at home! (Just kidding. I was never a cheerleader.)

Here’s the point: what happens if OTHER marketers are playing defense and bidding on YOUR brand name? What if all you have on a SERP is your organic listing…

…but the opposing team’s ads are showing up for your company name? Guess what, their ads will be more visible at the top of the score board than your organic listing.

Are you letting your competitors own YOUR home court? Tsk tsk. Don’t get caught behind the eight ball. It shouldn’t come down to the wire at this stage of the game — get off the bench, play some offense and bowl ’em over with your branded ads.

6) Become a Statistic

For real. This is one time you WANT to be a stat.

I’ll leave you with one last — but not least — valid argument to add branded search terms as a subset of your PPC campaign: conversion rate. Obviously the entire point of a PPC campaign is to get conversions (whatever those may be for each client/business).

Well, by having branded keywords, ads, and landing pages in your pay-per-click account, I’m about 105.97% certain your conversion rate is going to climb. Why?

Because people searching specifically for YOU are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

It’s a fair bet they’re more likely to click on your ads — and to convert! — than non-branded traffic. In fact, our own clients’ branded traffic, while varying depending on many factors, averages about a 40% conversion rate.

Adding branded keywords ups the ante, if you will (and I think you will).

Regardless of whether your visitors found your ads first with a branded search or are returning (and using the branded term because they remember your name), the logical argument is you’re more likely to get clicks that turn into customers.

Okay, so Here’s the Short Version…

…i.e., TL;DR.

In summary: if you’re running a PPC campaign — whether for your own business or a client — you should be allocating a portion of the budget for branded keywords (Larry Kim has suggested that about 15% of each PPC budget be put towards branded terms).

Why? Because it’s the cheapest traffic you can purchase*! Plus:

  • it increases the overall quality of your account,
  • gives you more visibility in the SERPs,
  • ensures you’re showing up as much as you can for your own brand (when competitors are also bidding on it),
  • allows control over your brand message,
  • and it’s high-converting traffic.

I mean, GoogleAnalytics even separates branded from non-branded traffic, so there’s no need to worry about custom segments anymore! How easy is that?

Now, go forth and buy branded keywords. DO IT.

*Caveat: If, when your client named their company, they opted for a generic industry term — e.g., Property Management, Inc. — then beware the brand-name bids. Sure, it’s the name of the business and you have every right to bid on it; it also happens to be the highly-searched keyword people are looking for because it’s a SERVICE they need.

Since every other company (and their brother’s dog-walker) offering that service is optimizing for and bidding on that exact term, well, it’s not a branded search anymore. And it’ll cost you. But nowadays that **should** be fairly rare.



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