Bid on Branded Keywords

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    Why are we spending money on branded keyword searches if we’re already ranking at the top of the page? This is a good question that clients often ask when getting started with PPC and one that has a number of compelling reasons to do so. In this post we will cover why you should bid on branded keywords in your PPC account.

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    What is a Branded Keyword?

    Branded keywords are your exact brand name and close variants of it that people would search for to find your SaaS. For us, our main branded search is “tortoise and hare software”.

    Although we get most of our branded traffic through that one search we have clients that have 10 or more variants that people search for when locating their businesses.

    Why Bid On Branded Keywords?

    You could make the argument that you shouldn’t bid on branded keywords because its a waste of money. I wholeheartedly disagree. First of all cost per click for branded searches is going to negligible, sometimes as low as a few pennies.

    The reason for this is because your ad is almost guaranteed to have a very high quality score due to the relevance to the search and clicks with high quality scores are considerably cheaper. There’s also not likely to be a bunch of competition bidding on your brand name and competition is what drives up costs.

    Since we know the costs are going to be microscopic, lets talk about a few reasons why it’s worth the expense.

    Capture Slang Searches

    Since we’re already talking about brand variants, bidding on branded searches is a great way to funnel all your slang variants that customers or referrals may use when searching for you.

    Since branding guidelines often dictate that you refer to your business by it’s proper and often trademarked name, its not always feasible to rank at the top for slang variants of your brand. Bidding on these variants is a great way to make sure you’re capturing the maximum amount of people searching for your business by name (a very valuable audience).

    Distinguish Among Duplicate Businesses Names

    A lot of people only consider competing businesses within the same industry when deciding what to name their business. Since business names are registered on a state by state basis, it’s possible that two businesses can have the same name. It’s more common than you may think.

    Search engines do their best to consider the context of the search and deliver the right business, but if someone is searching with location privacy or browsing in incognito mode, it may be impossible to get that context. If there is a larger more established player with your businesses name, it’s possible they can outrank you.

    When you bid on branded keywords and have proper location settings for your campaign, you can avoid this conflict by bidding for the top spot.

    Control SERP Messaging

    If your site is optimized correctly you may be eligible for site-links in the organic SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Site-links are automatically determined by the search engine and you don’t have much control over which ones are selected or how they appear. They are the links to the inner pages that appear below the main home page link below.

    organic sitelinks in the serp
    organic SERP with sitelinks

    When you bid on branded keywords you can control the messaging by choosing your own site links and you can customize the meta description that appears in light grey below the site-links.

    This is a great way to highlight specific offers or push a specific product or package within your branded searches.

    Add Additional Information

    Along the same lines as being able to control your site-links above, when you bid on branded keywords you are able to take advantage of additional ad extensions that become available such as displaying your physical address, your phone, number, and even allowing people to submit a lead form straight from the search results.

    bid on branded keywords to unlock ad extensions
    Ad with phone number extension showing

    Protect Yourself From Competitors

    This is one of the main reasons companies bid on their own keywords, to protect themselves from a competitor running an ad showing above your organic search results.

    A small local or regional business may not have competitors intentionally bidding on brand names, but it’s relatively easy to have people accidentally bid on your company name if you have a popular word in the title.

    For instance:

    • Software – (Tortoise and Hare Software)
    • Consultants – (NetTech Consultants)
    • Builders – (Maurice Jordan Builders)

    It’s very common for company names to have an industry term in their title and this invites competitors to match for your company name when they bid on broad match keywords.

    Bid on brand keywords to keep the top spot against intentional and un-intentional competitors vying for your SERP.

    Drive Up Costs For Your Competitors

    Paid search campaigns use a bidding system where auction bidders pay 1 cent more than the next lowest bid. Your bid is also modified by the quality score for a keyword. This isn’t exactly how it works, but a $1 bid with a 10 quality score could be thought of as an effective $10 bid. Since competitors bidding on your brand names are going to have very poor quality scores for those keywords, and your site will have very high quality scores, you can drive up costs for competitors. Your $1 in actual money spent to protect your brand name can create a $10 effective bid. Your competitors, who may have a quality score of 1 could have to spend $10 in real money to put in an effective $10 bid. If you aren’t bidding, then there’s no competition, and your competitors can run ads on your brand terms for very favorable pricing. Not good.

    Bid on Branded Keywords To Improve Ad Account Quality

    It’s no secret that Google takes into account the click through rates and overall account performance when determining individual quality scores. Why not sweeten the pot and improve your overall account quality by bidding on dirt cheap branded keywords with high click through rates?

    When you think about it you may even be offsetting the cost of your branded keyword costs by improving your account quality overall and reducing the spend on unrelated keywords.

    Send People To A Different Landing Page

    One advantage of bidding on branded keywords is that you can appear at the top of the results for your company’s name, but you don’t have to send them to your home page.

    You can use this to your advantage by combining branded searches with other demographic data to send people to a different landing page after clicking. For instance you could send high net worth individuals to a different page.

    For instance queries that contain the word support can be directed directly to the support page, or queries with a qualifying indicator can be directed to a more relevant landing page than the home page to increase conversion rates.

    You can also use this tactic for damage control in the event of a PR incident to send people to an explanation page.

    Conclusion, Bid On Branded Keywords!

    There are many reasons to bid on your brands keywords. They are very affordable and come with a number of benefits. These keywords offer benefits to all companies, but they can be especially fruitful to smaller companies with poor SEO. Adding a paid advertisement to the top of your SERP can really offset some other weaknesses in your organic listings.

    So what are you waiting for, get bidding!

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    Hunter Nelson

    Hunter is the founder and president of Tortoise and Hare Software, a digital marketing agency for managed service providers. Hunter has more than 10 years’ experience building web applications and crafting digital strategies for companies ranging from scrappy startups to Fortune 50 household names. When not on the clock, you'll find him spending time with his family and pups, relaxing on the beach, or playing competitive online video games. See for more.

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