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Branded vs. Non-Branded Keywords: Which One Should You Bid on?

Branded vs. Non-Branded Keywords: Which One Should You Bid on?

When it comes to online marketing, you must ensure that your content reaches the right people most effectively. When you search for a specific company online, you’ll often see the company’s ad above the organic search results. The questions that logically come up are:

  • Do you need to bid on branded keywords?
  • Why should you bid on branded keywords?
  • Do you need to pay if somebody is already searching for you?

The decision should be made after carefully considering all the factors involved and weighing the pros and cons. Let’s break down what brand bidding entails and why you should start investing in your branded keyword strategy.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Brand Name Bidding?
  2. Pros and Cons of PPC Brand Bidding Strategy
  3. Case Study: Should You Run a Branded Search Campaign?
  4. How to Improve Your Branded PPC Campaigns?
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Conclusion

What is Brand Name Bidding?

Brand name bidding is an advertising strategy that is becoming increasingly popular in the world of digital marketing. It involves purchasing keywords related to a company’s brand or product names (branded keywords) in AdWords (now Google Ads) or other search engine auctions and then directing consumers to the company’s website when those words are used for searches. For example, if you own an online clothing store called “Next,” you could bid on brand terms such as “Next clothes” or “Next apparel.” By bidding on these terms, your ads will appear at the top of the search results.

Next brand image in Google SERP

In addition, this tactic can easily draw attention to a business and help cement its place in prospective customers’ minds. Because users automatically associate certain keywords with particular companies or products, using them guarantees more focused results than those achieved through regular keyword bidding. Advertisers can speak directly to those actively searching for their brands by investing in branding bidding, so much so that it has become essential for businesses looking to make their presence felt online.

Pros and Cons of PPC Brand Bidding Strategy

While claiming the top SERP spot for your own brand name undoubtedly strengthens your digital presence, the strategy has its challenges. Let’s carefully discuss the pros and cons of branded paid search and help you understand whether brand name bidding is the right fit for your digital marketing campaign.

Advantages of Running a Brand Search Campaign

Running a branded search campaign is one of the most effective ways to promote your business. It can help raise brand awareness, increase website traffic, and generate more leads and conversions. Let’s examine the key advantages of running such a campaign.

  1. Generate more leads & conversions. A successful PPC branded campaign will increase the leads and conversions you receive. By optimizing your SERP performance for branded terms, you will maximize the number of people who see your ads or click through to your website. Furthermore, by using relevant keywords that are closely connected with what you offer, you can ensure that those who visit your site are actually interested in what you have to offer. This increases the likelihood of them converting into customers.
  2. Send traffic to a specific landing page. When somebody is looking for your brand name and sees your organic listing, they’re likely to be sent to your homepage upon clicking. However, a searcher may be looking for your organization because they’re close to the conversion point. And your task is to capture those high-intent searchers. With branded keyword strategy, you can run dedicated promotional campaigns and send traffic to the pages relevant to these promotions.
  3. Improve brand awareness. A well-executed branded search campaign can also improve brand awareness among potential customers. By targeting relevant keywords and phrases related to your brand name, you can ensure that when someone searches for those terms, they will be presented with content about or from your business. This drives more traffic to your website and helps potential customers become aware of who you are and what services or products you offer.
  4. Increase relevance & visibility. Another benefit of running a branded search campaign is that it helps improve the relevance and visibility of your website in SERPs. When someone searches for a branded term related to what you offer, they’re likely looking for something specific, meaning they need quick access to accurate information about it. A good branded search campaign will make sure this information is easily found by optimizing it for these queries so that it appears near the top of SERP rankings. This improves both relevance and visibility — two key elements of SEO success.
  5. Expose brand on SEPR. Bidding on your branded keywords allows your company to dominate the top of the search result page by showing more listings. And owning as much as possible between PPC ads, organic listings, and the knowledge panel sets you apart as an authority. And authority means trust and credibility that ultimately leads to clicks. Look at how Amazon does it:Amazon brand exposure on SEPR
    Also, consider how high news and review websites can rank and how competitors might bid on your brand name. By achieving brand SERP domination, you can avoid the risk of having negative reviews, news, or competitor ads shown above your brand listings.
  6. Block competitor bidding.This is the most crucial reason for running a branded paid search. Nothing stops your competitors from bidding on your branded keywords and showing their ads at the top of the results. This is the main point that people talk about when it comes to bidding on branded keywords.Example of competitor brand bidding
  7. Get more control. If you bid on your brand, you have more control over the search results. And with organic SERP listings, you can optimize your meta title, description, and meta tags for higher ranking and better click-through rate. But with paid search ads, you have more control over that. Brand name bidding allows you to manage your message to your customers fully. For example, you can:
  •  Insert a specific CTA
  •  Highlight a current promotion
  •  Add unique details
  • What’s more, you can change your ad message at any time. And if you want to change the title or description of an organic listing, it’ll take several days. Changing a paid ad, on the contrary, is immediate, and you can use scheduling to specify certain days or hours you want your ads to be shown.

What Are The Disadvantages of Brand Bidding?

While bidding on your brand name in advertising might seem like a rescue, there are hidden pitfalls lurking beneath the surface. Before throwing your budget at branded keywords, think about the following downsides.

  • Increased CPC (cost per click). Competition for your own brand name can drive up CPCs significantly. Short, generic brand names are particularly vulnerable, inviting bids from competitors within your industry. Ultimately, it can can quickly eat into your advertising budget, potentially outweighing the benefits.
  • Cannibalization of organic traffic. If your website already ranks well organically for your brand name keywords, running PPC ads for the same terms can lead to cannibalization. Users might click on your ad instead of the organic listing,  decreasing overall website traffic.
  • Limited reach beyond existing brand awareness. Brand bidding primarily targets users already familiar with your brand. While valuable for existing customers and brand advocates, it does little to expand your reach or attract new audiences. If brand awareness is a primary goal, broader keyword targeting might be more effective.
  • Mismanagement of brand control. While brand bidding grants control over the narrative presented in your ads, it doesn’t guarantee control over the entire SERP. Competitors or negative reviews might still appear within view.
  • Complexity and ongoing optimization. Brand bidding campaigns require ongoing monitoring and optimization to mitigate these disadvantages and maximize ROI. This can be time-consuming, and you might need to contact an experienced PPC agency like VIDEN to achieve efficient results.

Case Study: Should You Run a Branded Search Campaign?

In this section, we’d like to showcase how running a branded search campaign may be pivotal for our brand. A few months ago one of our big clients requested to run a test. The aim was to find out whether the client needed to bid on branded keywords or if they could cover this with SEO efforts.

As the client was operating in multiple regions, we decided to exclude one region from our branded campaigns on Google Ads to avoid paying for branded traffic, assuming that it goes organic.

Here’re the results:

Branded campaign test: Cost comparison

Branded Campaign Test: Clicks comparison

Branded campaign test: Impressions comparison

Branded campaign test: CTR comparison

The client spent roughly $16k per month on branded keywords. But due to competitor bidding on their brand keywords (both targeted and untargeted), their business name being almost a generic term, and the potential loss in revenue, they determined that SEO couldn’t capture all the lost revenue at that point. And our hypothesis was right.

How to Improve Your Branded PPC Campaigns?

Setting up a branded search campaign doesn’t lead to immediate success. According to our research, many companies make mistakes by overspending on both branded and general terms. The good news is that you can fix it by following our tips for maximizing your branded PPC campaigns.

Step 1. Check if you’re not competing against yourself

If you run both brand and general campaigns, ensure your campaigns aren’t competing against each other. To do this, you need to understand what search terms trigger your general and branded Google Ads campaigns.

To find search terms, open the Search Terms Report in Google Ads:

  • Open your branded campaign
  • Click the Keywords tab
  • Click Search terms

Branded campaign in Google Ads

From this report, you’ll see data for which search terms triggered impressions and clicks.

Search terms in Google Ads

Then repeat the process for general campaigns and compare the results to see any overlaps. If you see the same keywords in both campaigns, you damage your results for both campaigns and raise your overall price.

The only things that should trigger a brand campaign are your company name, services, or your products.

If general terms trigger your branded campaign, the click-through rate is likely to drop, raising the price of your campaign and lowering the relevancy score.

Step 2. Use negative keywords to purify your branded campaign

If you discover that you compete with yourself, use negative keywords to clean up your branded campaigns.

Negative keywords Google Ads

When you neaten your branded campaign, you increase the relevance of branded keywords and notify Google that you are the company to serve these branded keywords.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is brand bidding?

Brand bidding is the practice of placing ads on search engines for keywords that include your own brand name or those of your competitors. This can help you capture more clicks from people who are already searching for your brand.

2. What are the benefits of running search ads for brand keywords?

Running brand search ads improves your online presence and makes sure users see your brand first. You control the narrative, guide users to specific campaigns or offers, and gather valuable data about user intent and brand perception.

3. Why pay for branded keywords?

By paying for branded keywords, you can ensure that your website appears at the top of a search page when someone searches for your brand directly, increasing visibility and driving more traffic to your site. Plus, with the right strategy, investing in branded keywords can even positively impact your SEO efforts overall.

4. How much should I spend on branded keywords?

Ideally, 5-10% of your ad budget, but you can adjust it based on brand awareness and campaign goals.

5. How to see if competitors are bidding on your brand keywords?

One way to see if others are bidding on your brand keywords is to use a keyword research tool. Additionally, you should take a look at your Google Ads auction insights report, which will provide details about your ad’s performance, the competition for particular keywords, and the ad position of your competitors.

6. Can I stop competitors from bidding on my brand?

You can take steps to protect your brand and limit the impact of these ad campaigns. For example, you can research your competitors to see which keywords they’re bidding on and adjust your own campaigns accordingly. You can also consider using negative keywords to ensure your ads don’t appear when someone searches for a competitor’s brand.

Final Thoughts

Overall, deciding whether or not you should bid on branded keywords depends largely on how competitive your market is and how much money you’re willing to invest in advertising efforts. Ultimately, businesses need to carefully weigh all of these factors before making a decision about whether or not they should bid on their own branded keywords.

If you still feel hesitant to bid or not, book a free consultation or full ppc advertising services, and we’ll help you run a successful branded paid search campaign.

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