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Branded vs Non-Branded Keywords: Which Should You Be Using?

When it comes to branded versus non-branded search, it isn’t an either/or decision, both are critical for successful rankings. Businesses must have a strong understanding of the customer journey, to know when users are more likely to search for branded versus non-branded keywords. If you’re aware of what searches your potential customers are making, and are bidding on the right phrases, you can increase your chances of ranking in moments of the highest intent. 


Branded Keywords 

Branded keywords are exactly what they sound like, search words or phrases that include your brand name or a variation of it. Branded keywords are usually used by searchers that have heard of your business through marketing efforts or are a past customer. Some businesses feel that bidding on your own branded keywords is a waste, but this isn’t necessarily true. To help all users in their search journey it can still be beneficial to bid on branded keywords. Here are some reasons to think about. 

Controlling Your Message 

Organic listings are cheap but they don’t give you the chance to really tell users what you’re about. Paid advertising gives you the opportunity to get creative with your message to grab the user’s attention. Additionally, organic results may not take users to their ideal landing pages. With paid advertisements you have complete control of your message and where the user is linked to, increasing your chances of conversions. 

Competitor Bids 

Competitors may be invading your space. Many businesses across all industries bid on their competitors’ keywords with the intention of stealing business and traffic. Bidding on your own keywords reduces competitors’ opportunities to outrank your own results. 

Capture High-Quality Leads. 

People searching for your own brand are already familiar with your company. They’ve either heard good things from a friend or are a returning customer. Either way, they know you have what they’re searching for and are further along in the buying cycle than someone just doing broad searches. Chances are they’re very close to making a purchase. Being one of the top results ensures that they find what they’re looking for, and can follow through with that purchase, creating new or repeat business for you. 

Dominating Your Own Search Engine Results Page

They always say that two is better than one. Appearing both organically and by paid ads can show users that you’re a prominent player in that space. It works similarly to having multiple links in an email, increasing click-through rates, giving the users more opportunities to land on your page. 


Non-Branded Keywords 

Non-branded keywords are any search queries that do not specify any specific brands or business names. These include generic searches such as “happy hours in my area,” or “local car repair services.” These are often made by people that are either brand-agnostic, or new prospects not yet familiar with your brand. While ranking for branded terms is still important, strategizing how to rank for non-branded keywords should be a top priority. This is likely to be more expensive than branded keyword bidding, but it’s the best way to gain more visibility, traffic, and conversions. Non-branded searches are made at a much higher volume than branded terms, which is why it’s important to identify those that are most relevant to you. Here are some strategies to optimize non-branded search. 

Optimize for what Users are Searching 

It’s important to begin by putting yourself in the user’s perspective. What exactly would they be searching for to end up at your business? What products or services might they need? What entities are fundamental to your business? For example, if you do work on cars, customers are probably doing searches beyond just “car repair.” They may be looking for – oil changes, new brakes, new tires, etc. It’s important to not only have a clear understanding of what your customers are looking for, but how to optimize your non-branded searches to fit their needs. 

Manage Business Listings 

Make sure your business is listed accurately, everywhere. This way new customers making local searches find you in moments of high intent. Everything from address, hours, business category, etc. need to be correct and consistent. This is necessary for not only your own website, but for third party sites as well, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. To rank for non-branded searches, search engines must be able to identify that your business is near the user’s geolocation and your hours of operation. 

It’s important to emphasize both of these aspects because if search engines can’t find this information then neither will users. Overall, both types of searches work together. By optimizing online listings and your website for the products, locations, services, and other entities that you offer, you’re giving search engines the information they need to deliver structured, verified answers to specific questions customers are asking about your brand. 

Getting business today means you have to understand that customers have grown and know how to search for exactly what they want. Which is why it’s important to utilize and optimize your opportunities in all search areas. 


How We Can Help 

At Onimod Global we are experts in all areas of SEM. We are experienced in paid advertising across all platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and Bing. Our strategy is using cross-channel digital marketing campaigns driven by machine learning analytics and human intelligence. Together ensuring your brand meets the consumer when and where they need them. Read more about what we do here, or contact us today here