Branded vs Non-Branded Keywords in SEO

by Britt Bischoff, Manager of SEO for Mudd Digital

Are you ranking #1 for your own brand name? Hooray! Nice work. It’s important that users are able to find you in a brand name search. But, if that’s all you’re using to measure SEO success, you’re missing the bigger picture — and probably a great deal of new business.

What is branded search?

The definition of a branded keyword is any search term that uses your name of business or any variation of it (this includes misspellings). Non-branded keywords are just the opposite — search queries that do not include your name of business.

What matters:

Although branded search is important for SEO (you want to rank #1 for your own brand name, of course), non-branded search is where the gold is at. Search engine optimization is about increasing visibility during a user’s search. Engaging new customers is necessary for growing your market, and those new customers aren’t likely to search your brand. We’re trying to reach the people who are searching for your product or service, but might not already know about your business. The whole point of what we do is to create awareness. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then what’s the point of being on the Internet if you’re relying on your existing set of clients?

Organic non branded search traffic is an essential KPI. Measuring non-branded terms gives a better indication of SEO effectiveness. Although we also target your brand loyal customers, non-branded targeting enables us to reach a larger volume of interested auto shoppers. Use the organic search results in Google Analytics to get a more holistic view of how your online presence is performing in terms of attracting views. It’s also important to know your true organic click through rate to see how users are interacting with your non-branded search results.

Try this simple test:

Are you really dominating search results? Let’s find out:

  1. Pull up a fresh tab in your browser, head to the Google Ad Preview Tool. Enter a search for products you offer in your local area without using your name of business if you can help it. Before clicking on the “Preview” button, set your search location and device type.

Check Local Search Ranking

Using the Google Ad Preview tool for organic ranking allows you see what other people are most likely seeing in the search results. Personalization, search history, and IP addresses are removed from your search results, and you get a more accurate view of your ranking and the search landscape.

ADDED BONUS: Using the Ad Preview tool won’t impact your impressions.

  1. Look at your findings.
    local search results non branded results SERPs
  2. Try a couple different searches for things you want to be known for. Also check out what your competitor is ranking for.


How to rock non-branded search?

  • Use effective targeting by customer intent
  • Research what your customers are looking for and how they shop
  • Create and target content your customers ask you frequently
  • Know your competition and what they’re targeting
  • Consider each visit from non-branded search a branding opportunity on your site


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