Paying for branded searches? Who would want to do that? Me.
I was reading an interesting article by Jennifer Robertson from Search Engine Land on PPC branded keywords. To buy branded or not buy branded keywords on search engines is always a dilemma, the issue being that usually these keywords rank well on natural search page results. Clients rarely enjoy seeing we’ve spend a significant portion of their paid search on their branded keywords because of that, something that it very understandable. What Jennifer was saying though makes complete sense: buying branded keywords can help build your account’s history, dominate search pages and more. Sometimes this strategy can be a good investment.
I think a big part of the problem comes from the belief that someone searching for a brand will inevitably end up finding the brand’s website. Truth is, if your SEO team has been doing a good job, chances are your official website will come in first place maximizing the probability that the user goes on your site first. Yippie!!!
Here is the not-so-fun part: type in your brand’s name in Google, look at your website’s link then the other results. Notice anything? Yeah, seems like other people also happen to talk about your brand. Perhaps competitors are even buying your name as bait to their site. Scary.
Ultimately, the goal of SEM is to make sure the users find what YOU want them to find first. It’s about dominating the user’s attention on search results pages. Just like what Jennifer said, branded PPC words can help you achieve that goal.
Spell my name?
Buying branded keywords is more or less of a risk for your company; because you’ll be pointing towards your website and mentioning your brand’s name within your ads, chances are you’ll get high QS and pay really low CPC values. The other cool thing about this is that because they’re cheaper and more effective, they help build account history without having to spend thousands of dollars just to get high QS values.
Another argument worth pointing out is, sometimes users don’t know or remember how to write your brand’s name. Helping them out by buying all these different wording variations can be a winning strategy. This is the case for one of our clients, for which buying all these variations really helped them reach visitors who didn’t really know how to properly write their name. A lot of those visits have even generated sales (and with really cheap cost/conversion values):
An example of a wrongfully written brand name keyword’s number of visits and transactions.
Keep the slice thin
I say, unless you have to, don’t invest more than 10% of your initial PPC budgets on branded keywords. You may want to invest a little more to build history, but make sure that proportion goes down in time. After 6 months or so of running the account, branded words should account for less than 1-5% of your total spending. Here’s my simple paid branded search strategy:
- Make sure your QS values for that campaign are perfect (or almost perfect).
- Drop the bids as low as possible.
- If you start noticing a fall in traffic for branded keywords (both in organic and paid), this means you are losing visits to competitors.
- Look at the average ad position values for those keywords, increment the bids and see what happens.
- Try to find the right balance between having a presence among your adversaries and your spending. Just make sure you keep it slim.