As a strong believer in purchasing ads on branded keywords, which typically make up the bulk of revenue and the minority of spend in any paid search account, I would love to explain why we are “all for” bidding on branded terms. While some of these reasons you’ve likely heard, hopefully there are some new ones that you haven’t yet considered.
Own the SERP – If you’re already ranking #1 for your branded keywords, that’s awesome! However, a paid ad for the same branded keywords will allow you to have two placements on the first search engine results page (SERP) instead of just one. You want your brand to take up as much real estate as possible on the SERP to ensure that a potential visitor isn’t distracted by other listings or brands, which are competing for your web traffic.
Get Low CPCs – The cost to own your branded terms is relatively low, and the cost-per-click (CPC) you are paying on these terms should be one of these cheapest in your paid search account. Unless, that is, you have a very generic brand name. So, if you’re brand name is “Pasta” – you are going to be paying quite a bit more to “own” that term in search advertising than if you were “DaVinci’s Pasta”. Whenever we have clients coming up with a new brand or product name, we advise them that it needs to be unique enough that other advertisers aren’t already driving up their potential CPC to a significant degree.
Don’t Let Your Competition Steal the Show – If you have competitors bidding on your branded terms, you should absolutely be running paid ads on these terms as well – even if you already rank #1 in the organic listings due to your SEO efforts. Other advertisers are literally paying to get ABOVE your organic listing, and you don’t want them stealing your valuable web traffic. If you don’t currently have competitors bidding on your brand terms, it’s only a matter of time. As your business continues to grow, and more searches for your brand are executed, advertisers with similar products and services will notice and begin bidding on your brand terms.
I call it “branded bandwagoning.”
You could search your own brand terms in Google every day to check if this is happening. But not only does that take up valuable time and resources, it could contribute to competitors seeing the value of your search terms even sooner by driving up search volume. Instead, take on the small additional cost to buy your brand terms and know that you are covered. In some cases, we notice that competitors only purchase our clients’ brand terms on a seasonal basis – usually when they have more budget, or expect more sales based on the industry they’re in. That being noted, it’s clear that advertisers have been strategic about how and when they choose to launch competitor campaigns. Don’t let anything sneak past you!
See More Insights on Competitors – Now that you know competitors are likely already bidding on your brand terms or realize that they may have some strategic plans to do so in the future – know that bidding on your own brand terms will also allow you to learn more about how and when they are doing this. In Google Ads, you have access to a report called Auction Insights about campaigns, ad groups and even individual keywords. If you are bidding on your own brand terms, you can pull this report specifically for those brand keywords to learn the who, what, how, where and when other advertisers are purchasing your branded keywords. With snazzy charts to boot, you can learn important things about how they are bidding on your branded terms, like their average positions, top of page rates, impression share against your keywords and more. If you aren’t bidding on your branded terms, you don’t get to see this data (unless you enlist help from a pricey 3rd party tool)
Have More Data to Make Smarter Optimizations – Along with your takeaways from the Auction Insights report, there are a few other valuable reports you can pull to ensure that you’re optimizing your account based on unique data points. Consider this: without branded terms, your paid search account is likely only made up of generic terms. While these keywords are great for bringing new users to your website, or introducing them to your brand, they likely don’t lead to many profitable sales immediately, as the exclusion of a branded keyword from the search may indicate the visitor is still in their research phase.
So, if your account is only running generic terms, it may look like it’s not profitable. What you can’t see without bidding on your brand keywords, is how generic keywords are supporting sales from brand searches executed after the original generic search. In Google Ads, there is a cool report called the Path to Conversion Report, which shows you the typical “paths” a user is taking before converting. It will only show you data for what is actually IN your Google Ads account (i.e. it won’t account for Facebook traffic, referrals, direct load, etc.) When you are bidding on generic and branded keywords (segmented into different campaigns), you can view this report to understand if visitors are first encountering your ads with a generic search, and then typing in a brand search and converting on the brand search. When you think about it that way, generic searches are suddenly a lot more valuable, no? Having this insight (attribution), readily available helps you understand the true value of your generic keywords and how they play an assist role to provide your account with more revenue and/or leads. (Note: similar reports inclusive of all channels should be available in Google Analytics if it is set up properly).
Customize Messaging – Okay, this one is a no-brainer and probably the one you hear most often! But, as Google has added even more options for remarketing and customized messaging, I want to expand upon this one.
First and foremost, it is much easier and quicker to adjust the ad copy on paid ads, than it is to adjust in your organic listings. For example, if you have a last-minute promotion, you can quickly update your branded ad copy to showcase that, and it will take effect immediately (it won’t take effect on organic listings until Google can crawl your site). If you relied solely on SEO, you could have branded searches occurring (likely from your best customers) who now have no idea you have a promo going on! Isn’t that the pits!
Second, with RLSA (remarketing list for search ads), which is available in Google, you can now serve different ads to people based on if they are on one of your remarketing lists. For example, if I created a list of my website’s most frequent shoppers, and they were searching for my brand, I could offer them a different ad than I show the general public – maybe something like “Thanks for Your Loyalty, Enjoy 10% Off.” This feature is awesome and it isn’t something you can take advantage of in your organic listings.
If you’ve made it this far, we appreciate you letting us rant about why branded search should be a necessity for your paid search strategy. Happy to answer any questions in the comments below! If you’ve chosen to do without brand search, comment on why – we’d love your take!