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Brand protection Lesson #2: The value of brand keywords

Agencies, Marketing Teams, Retail

Today, competition for clicks makes it challenging to derive meaningful growth from paid search advertising. From our experience, The Search Monitor’s customers have cracked this code by deploying brand bidding strategies. 

These strategies, discussed in the subsequent sections of this course, include ad monitoring, carefully crafted partnership agreements, addressing your competition head-on, making search engine complaints coupled with other available legal responses, and effectively employing brand bidding techniques. 

Though some marketers still debate whether brand bidding is a worthwhile investment, these brand protection strategies have allowed our customers to control CPCs on their branded terms and drive clicks that otherwise would go to competitors. The result has been strong growth in ROAS. 

What Are Brand & Brand-Plus Keywords?

Let’s start with some definitions. A brand keyword (a.k.a. branded keyword or brand term) is the keyword used to search for a company name. A recognizable example is “Macy’s.” Note that brand keywords can include obvious typos, such as “Macys.”

A brand-plus keyword, meanwhile, refers to a keyword phrase that includes the brand term plus a qualifying phrase. An example would be “Adidas running shoe.” There are many variations, such as:

  • Brand + product name (“Adidas Flux”)
  • Brand + review (“Adidas Ultra Boost review”)
  • Brand + coupon (“Adidas coupon”)
  • Brand + sale (“Adidas sale” or “Adidas discount”)
  • Brand long tail (“Adidas men’s Springblade running shoe size 13”)
  • Brand + website (“www Adidas” or “Adidas website”)

The Value of Brand and Brand-Plus Keywords

Instinctively, you just know that these searches provide incredible value to a brand. Search marketing blogs are overflowing with anecdotes and recommendations that discuss the need to focus on these keywords for PPC success. To back up our instincts, check out these real values with juicy stats to back them up:

More Clicks On Paid Ads

Brand terms generate lots of clicks. A 2020 study by Bing on automotive ads found that advertisers earn 2.1x more total clicks when they serve a paid ad for their brand versus relying on organic search listings alone.

When a shopper searches for an OEM brand and that brand’s ad is not present on the search results page, 59% of clicks are not picked up by their organic pages. That means they are capturing just 41% of brand clicks when relying on organic search listings alone, while competitors are capturing 29% of clicks on their brand name (21% of which come from paid ads). However, when they do serve a paid ad on brand searches, OEMs capture 86% of total clicks (78% from paid ads and an additional 8% from organic listings). Furthermore, those brands reduce the amount of clicks that competitors are taking to just 8% of total clicks on their OEM brand terms. (Source: Microsoft internal data, May – July 2020, U.S. only. Bing owned and operated only. Based off average performance of 5 OEM advertisers, cross-tiers.)

Also, don’t forget that some consumers use search engines as a replacement for the browser address bar. A common behavior is to type the website address into the Google search box. Brand bidding allows you to capture these clicks and their high click-through rates.

Improved Conversion Rates

What good are more clicks if they don’t convert and drive a healthy ROAS? The conversion benefits of brand bidding are vast:

  • Searchers who use brand keywords are more likely to be familiar with the brand and have an existing level of trust with your company.
  • Running an ad on your branded keywords lets you control the landing page experience much more easily than you can with your organic listing. We all know how optimized landing pages, especially with continuous A/B testing, should convert at higher rates than non-relevant landing pages.
  • Studies have shown that branded keyword phrases are 5X more likely to convert visitors into leads, and paid conversion rates can be upwards of 4X higher than organic conversion rates. Simply put, it’s better for conversions to have a paid ad representing you than relying on your organic listing.
  • What does Google have to say on this? They reported that paid clicks from branded searches had double the conversion rate of paid clicks from non-branded searches.

Better Quality Scores

Brand searches are more relevant, raise your overall account CTR, and can have low bounce rates. This can lead to better Quality Scores, which in turns lowers CPCs and possibly offsets some of your lower-scored terms.

More Control Than With Organic Listings Alone

When a customer clicks through to your landing page from a branded search, you have more control over their experience with your brand. With organic searches, you do not have control over where they land like you do with paid ads. With a dedicated landing page experience and more control, you can better convert paid traffic on your branded search terms. 

Truly Own SERP Results

The more results you show upon, the more likely you are to get a click. By being sure your brand is showing up on paid and organic listing on desktop and mobile, you can dominate the total SERP results. Be sure to coordinate page share with paid ads & PLA’s, get organic KPI’s like page rank and SOV.

Knock Out The Competition 

Competitors on your brand terms are there to steal your clicks and piggy-back on your good name. Competitors can cause you to lose clicks and increase CPCs on your brand terms. Or worse, they can overtake you in rank, pushing you down the page.

Your number one goal is to remove as many competitors as you can. The next best thing to a take-down is to beat your competitors in rank. You never want your competition to bid above you on your own brand terms, so it’s important to monitor your brand terms daily and adjust your bids accordingly.

A Cost-Effective Solution

Brand terms for your own company are usually much cheaper than other keywords, meaning you can own more SERP real estate without overspending. 

* * *

In Lesson 3, we’ll cover best practices and techniques for brand bidding, including keyword development, knocking competitors off page one of search results, ad copy tips, and piggy-backing off other brands.

Did you know? 12% of your clicks are lost to competitors who advertise on your branded search keywords. The Search Monitor helps you identify competitors & affiliates bidding on branded keywords and automated enforcement.

Learn more about brand protection →