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Search Marketing Warfare: The Brutal Battle Over Branded Keywords

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Throughout the realm of Search Marketing – encompassing both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) – a war has waged since the ancient era in which Online Marketers began to catapult their brands into stardom via Search Engines. Unbeknownst to many, this epic battle hosts two combatants: (1) SEO’s finest strategists, whom I like to call the “Organic Search Opposition;” (2) The smartest and most significant (not to mention beautiful) men and women involved in Online Marketing today – PPC Professionals, or the “Paid Search Punishers.” What could fuel such a standoff between the Organic Search Opposition and the Paid Search Punishers – two groups of immensely intelligent individuals who often work hand-in-hand in their quest to dominate the Search Marketing Empire? Well, the cause for our heroes’ (or enemies’, depending on which side you’re on) strife stems from a commonly asked question by clients enlisted in SEO and PPC services: “Why should I spend PPC money (i.e. bid on) on my brand’s Keywords?”

At the forefront, many members of the Organic Search Opposition (not necessarily those stationed at the TargetClick Fortress) will answer the above inquiry by telling you to not bid on your brand’s Keywords in PPC, as your website will rank for those Keywords organically; at no cost to you. However, I – on behalf of the Paid Search Punishers – would advise that in most cases you should allocate a portion of your PPC budget towards branded search terms. Let me offer up a few reasons why:

1. More visibility for your brand on Search Results Pages – Adding branded Keywords and Ads to your PPC arsenal allows you to display more overall links – both Paid and Organic – on Search Results pages. Sure, having one or two free Organic listings for your brand’s Keywords is certainly a win (and requires little to no SEO effort), but why not grow that number to two or three (or more) by adding a Paid Ad to your weaponry? And, if you have a cohesive PPC and SEO strategy, you can effectively pillage any search results pages related to your brand. For example, if you run an automotive dealership, you can present searchers with a branded Ad that matches their search to a tee, followed by multiple organic links directed to your website’s home page, inventory/vehicle details pages, and other content areas dedicated to specials and service. Additionally, if you own multiple stores under a single umbrella brand name, and each of them possess their own website, you can really ransack the searchscape for your brand by creating multiple paid listings for your dealerships’ URLs. To see what I mean, take a look below:

2. More control over your online traffic – Rather than relying on Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) to dictate the pages into which searchers enter your website, you can choose the URLs yourself via a branded Ad. Perhaps you just created a landing page for a limited time offer at your dealership. If so, you can circumvent the “wait” time associated with allowing that page to rank organically by sending traffic to it through an offer-specific, brand-driven PPC Ad linking to your new offer-specific page. You can also ensure that searchers do not have to visit your site’s home page first in order to see the incentive. By gently nudging prospects towards the correct page, you need not worry about missing out on the leads/sales that will surely follow.

3. Your brand name contains a geographic location – Auto dealers, read up. If the name of your dealership is something along the lines of “[City] Ford” or “Honda of [City],” then branded Keywords and Ads will assist you greatly on the battlefield; they are certainly not a waste of money, either. In this case, buying your brand’s (location-based) Keywords will not only guide searchers interested in your dealership to the right website, you will also earn traffic for Keywords related to the geographic area in which you conduct business. For instance, if a car buyer searchers for “buy a ford in [city],” and your dealership’s brand name is “[City] Ford” – a term you’ve included in your Keyword list – you can present that user with a highly relevant Ad linked to your site. Moreover, that same Keyword bid will likely allow you to nab some of your competitors’ Search traffic as well. Maybe a shopper has a competing dealership in mind, but cannot remember its name, so he/she searches for “ford dealership in [city], and instantly clicks on your Ad because of its relevance to his/her search. Mark up one more opportunity for you and one less for that peasant of a Ford dealer on the other side of the village.

4. Other companies ARE buying your Keywords – Although advertisers cannot place competing brand names within PPC Ads, nothing bars them from simply adding those terms to their arms horde. Similar to the location-based scenario above, your competitors can easily steal “your” Search traffic through Aggressive Keywords bids and creative Ad copy, especially if you have failed to include any brand terms in your own PPC Campaign. So, to prevent other businesses from leading searchers interested in your brand away from your website strike back with a few branded Keywords and Ads. You’re sure to come out the victor.

If the notion that your competitors are exploiting all of the hard work that has gone into building your brand fails to enrage the beast from within, perhaps the fact that you can earn branded traffic at a relatively low Cost Per Click ($.05 – $1.00) will engender you to draw your blade in retaliation. Either way, if you possess a tightly knit SEO and PPC strategy; one in which your Organic Search and Paid Search efforts complement one another, then throwing a few coins at branded Keyword bids should come across as a no-brainer. By doing so, you will not only generate more online traffic and leads/sales; you will also ensure that searchers already interested in your brand will actually arrive at your website and not in the laps of your competitors. By the way, you’ll rest assured knowing that you have done your part in ending the ongoing struggle between the Organic Search Opposition and the Paid Search Punishers. The terror that has enveloped the Search Kingdom will cease to exist. Peace will be had; meat and mead for all!

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