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Branded Keywords and Owning Your Own Name

You’re  checking out the results of your Paid Search campaigns, and a lot of the keywords triggering clicks are the same as your brand name, i.e. “branded keywords.” You may be thinking, “Why am I buying my own brand name? People who are searching for my business by name will find us organically anyway, right?”

What Are Branded Keywords?

It’s very simple: “Branded keywords” or search queries are inclusive of your brand name or some variation of it. Branded keywords for Nike include search queries like:

  • brandingNike
  • Nike Inc
  • Nike Incorporated
  • Nike Factory Store
  • Etc…


What Is A Non-Branded Search Term or Keyword?

If a keyword or search term does not include your brand name or any part of it, including any misspellings, it is considered “non-branded.” 

Non-branded keywords for Nike include search queries like:

  • Running shoes
  • Red running shoes
  • Shoes for men
  • Shoes for women
  • Etc…

Should I buy my own Branded keywords?

Bidding on your own brand name is, in most cases, a strategically smart move. Unless the name of your business is wildly similar to that of a much more well-known company (in other words, any business named McDonald will be competing for space with one of the world’s largest burger chains), this should be a very cost effective way to control your messaging, generate quality leads, and convert traffic easier.

How Much Traffic Will I Lose If I Stop Buying My Branded Terms?

If you’re already running a branded keyword campaign, there’s a quick way for you to decide if this is a good move for your business. A 2012 study estimates that ranking first organically means “50% of your ad clicks are incremental” (they would not be recovered organically). This means that on average, half of your clicks on branded ad groups would go elsewhere if you were to pause or exclude your branded keyword campaigns. Now, divide your current traffic from Brand campaigns in half and imagine that number of visitors going to someone else. Eye-opening, isn’t it?!

A chart showing the potential gain by adding paid search to organic resultsIntroducing paid branded keywords will cannibalize some of your organic traffic. However, there is an easy way to ensure a positive return on your investment. If you get 2,000 branded organic clicks in one month without paid ads, then turning on a paid search campaign may reduce that number to something like 1,600.However, if you influence 800 clicks to your Brand campaign, that means total traffic has increased by 400 clicks! There’s a huge difference between 2,000 and 2,400 visitors per month to your site, and—based on the Google study mentioned above—you were already losing 400 clicks per month to your competitors by not having a Brand campaign to begin with. Now, those visitors are coming to YOU!

Here are our top SIX Reasons you SHOULD be buying your Brand Name:

Protect Your Brand Name From Competitors

If your competition is savvy, they are most likely buying your brand name already. If this is the case, then there’s definitely a HUGE REASON for you to be bidding as well. If not, you are delivering traffic at a low cost to your competition. With the new mobile first layout on Google, this means that someone searching for your company will have to scroll past the strategically cultivated advertisements of your competitors before finding your plain organic listings flanked below the fold. This type of poaching will divert cost effective traffic to the strategically designed landing pages of your business foes. Don’t give up your own backyard!

Take Over the Search Results Page

There have been 3 major changes to Google Search Results pages as part of Google’s Mobile First Initiative: 1.) the removal of all ads on the right side of the page, 2.) serving four paid search ads instead of three 3.) Emphasis on showing Google Local Listings & map. As a consequence, we’ve seen the real estate for organic listings sink lower on the page, not once but TWICE! This means that a user must scroll ‘below the fold’ in order to even see you organically. On mobile, this could mean TWO thumb swipes -gasp! This is a major deal considering nearly 60 percent of searches now from mobile devices.

Also, there’s strength in numbers – think FREQUENCY! If you’re showing up on the first page with a paid ad, an organic listing, and a local map listing – you’re showcasing that you are THE prominent player in your field.

Buying your own brand

Generate Visitors with “High Intent”

What is a “high intent” visitor? Perhaps your searcher has heard about you from a relative, researched your business, or perhaps they’re already a customer. They know what they want, and it’s likely that they are further along in the purchase process than those sorting through generic or broad search terms.

This is why your branded keywords will generate higher clicks per impression—or Click Thru Rates. Your searchers are looking for something more specific with higher intent.

What are the benefits to this? Increasing your Click Through Rate often means lower first page bids on other terms due to a higher Quality Score overall. This customer is more likely to convert. And, per our last list item: a branded keyword is the cheaper method for directing them to the right place!

Direct Traffic Deeper Into Your Site

Organic Search Results can be like fishing without bait. Instead of finding you on the map, navigating around your home page and eventually landing on spot where they can cast a line, you can strategically place different keywords in your ad groups with branded terms in order to direct traffic straight to type of fish they are hoping to catch! Think about it – each consumer will only cast their line so many times before they are ready to give up and drive to another spot. Using ad extensions such as site links to showcase various parts of your website, you’re telling them “drop a line here for bass or there for trout!” With the internet feeling less like a pond and more like an ocean, give your deep sea fishermen a break!


Control Your Messaging

While Organic Listings may be free advertising, they can be very VANILLA! Paid Search Ads provide an opportunity to craft a message that will entice your searchers using language that hooks their attention and increases their intent. Check out our blog about the benefits of Expanded Text Ads (link) and learn more about the benefits of having higher character limits, larger headlines, and the ability to personalize your ads! Using tools such as ad extensions, you also have the ability to ad options for your searcher to navigate directly to the most relevant landing pages, bypass your site and convert immediately (using call extensions, click to text extensions, etc), or even preview your pricing right on the search results page!

It’s Cost Effective

Who doesn’t want to save money? Cost per click is much lower on branded search terms. At the end of the day, your bottom line relies on investing in keywords with low cost and high search volume. You don’t have to look far—we’re talking about your own brand name! Economically—this is a no brainer.

So where will you be when they’re calling your name? Don’t lie below the fold or be lost in the mix. After all…the best defense is a good offense! Give the people what they want—YOU!


Jonas Dominique
Jonas Dominique (Miami University ’11) manages hundreds of thousands of dollars in Paid Search Advertising campaigns as a Google Certified SEM Analyst for Click Here Publishing in Baton Rouge. His portfolio spans the entire United States specializing in the Automotive, Hospitality, Medical and Legal industries. With over 7 years of marketing and technology experience, his resume includes start-ups, agencies, and non-profit/foundation formation in the United States and abroad.
Jonas Dominique

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