Bidding On Brand Terms

Should you have to pay Google to get traffic on your own brand keywords?

Before we answer, let’s define our terminology.

By ‘Brand Keywords’ I’m referring to keywords which center around your company name, which in most cases is your domain name (or a major part of your domain name).

I’m not referring to major brand names that you sell as a retailer. And if you’re a manufacturer of many brand-name items, I wouldn’t even include those product brands.

Just your core company-name brand.

So should you have to buy these keywords in your PPC accounts and pay-per-click for that traffic?

Probably not. But we don’t live in that world.

Why Bidding Your Own Brand Makes (economic) Sense
There are two arguments against bidding your own brand terms:

  1. My pages rank well organically, I’ll get the traffic anyway.
  2. There is no f&*king way I’m paying for traffic on my own brand.

Yet the arguments for bidding on your own brand terms are pretty simple.

  1. You probably don’t rank well, or at all, for every variation and mis-spelling or phrase use of your brand. There are hundreds or thousands of them.
  2. Some people just look at and click the paid ads – they prefer them over the free listings.
  3. If you don’t buy it, someone else will – and it’s not likely they’re trying to improve your business.

I recommend thinking about it as a part of a much larger expense.

Consider all the money you spend building and promoting your brand. You’ve invested a ton of money into getting people to know it, perhaps even trust it, often advertising in other media which is what generated the search in the first place – all that time and money get them to initiate a search to try and find you.

Almost certainly the money you spend for this ‘last mile’ of the relationship is a tiny fraction of what you spent to get them to that point. Pay the last few % and get those folks to your website.

What sense does it make to spend thousands on branding, trade shows, tv commercials, mailings, social media efforts, or whatever it is you do – all of which ultimately motivates someone to try and Google you – only to have them see and then click on ads for competitors because you weren’t bidding.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to rank #1, or get multiple organic listings, on your brand terms. As Avinash says, those rankings are your God-Given-Right. (Google makes you earn them anyway – but that’s another blog post 🙂

Prove Me Wrong
Most tests I’ve heard about, when paid and organic ads were run together and testing was done to turn off the paid ads, showed that while there is some cannibalization of organic by paid, the net effect was positive.

But if you’re really concerned test it yourself.

  • Use a reasonably long time frame (with a solid number of clicks, I’d suggest at least one or two weeks to ensure at least a few hundred clicks of data) and run with your PPC ads for one period and then without for another.
  • Another important factor is that historically paid clicks convert at a higher rate than organic ads – so even if you just miss a few of your visitors they may have been very lucerative ones.
  • Make sure to isolate as much as possible for other factors, like major SEO/organic rank changes, seasonal volume levels, etc.

Check the impact on your organic traffic and overall traffic and conversions.

And when you get your results back, please post a comment with your experiences. I’d love to hear about cases where PPC brand term bidding is purely cannibalistic and a waste of money.

Until Then, Bid On Your Brand Terms
I believe that not bidding on brand terms is cutting off your nose to spite your face. And your face looks funny without a nose.



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