23 Jan Branded keywords in Google Ads: All you need to know.
In this article, you’ll learn what are branded keywords in Google Ads and how they can impact your global performance.
It’s extremely important to analyze brand terms performance for several reason:
• Are they cannibalizing organic traffic?
• Are they bringing incremental conversions?
• Are they blowing away your budget?
• Find out if your agency/consultant is transparent with your PPC results
• How to adapt your strategy?
Let me explain the concept of branded keywords in Google Ads
What are branded keywords in Google ads?
Branded keywords are terms that contains the name of your brand. As simple as that.
Let’s take a quick example. You are a brand selling coffee and your brand name is « Djou ». (That was an easy one)
Here are some examples of « brand terms » users might look for.
Branded keywords contain the brand name « DJOU ».
Non-branded keywords don’t contain « DJOU ».
They are especially useful to catch new traffic that doesn’t know our brand yet.
The main question you have to ask yourself is:
« Is it relevant to spend money on paid ads to be present when a user is looking for my brand? »
The logical answer would be « yes ». My answer would be « it depends ».
I pulled out 5 use cases where it makes sense or not to pay for branded keywords in your PPC campaigns.
Let’s dive into it.
Case 01 : Your « brand name » is not unique.
To illustrate that case, I will use one of my friend’s business as an example.
A boxing gym franchise called VS Boxing. VS being the initials of the business owner.
We quickly had a problem.
The abbreviation VS is used all the time when speaking about boxing match. ex: Mike Tyson Vs Mohammed Ali boxing. A lot of websites, video and articles ranked for these terms already.
Google wasn’t able (yet) to make the difference between VS = Versus and VS = Initials of the business owner.
In that specific case, it was a smart move to buy the exact brand term [vs boxing].
It filled the gap waiting for the website and Google My Business listing to rank organically on that term.
Case 02 : Your brand and website is fresh new.
Let’s say you just launched a fresh new brand with a brand new website (Congratulation!)
It is relevant to run campaigns including your brand name for several reason :
• make sure to be on top of search results until your website ranks organically
• monitor the search volume on your brand terms
• monitor competitors bidding on your brand terms
In the screenshot below, we clearly see the volume of impressions (searches) on brand name increasing week by week after the launch of cross-channel advertising
Case 03. Competitors are bidding on your brand name
Competitors can buy your brand terms in google ads to get visibility for their product/servies when users are looking for you.
That a very common technique.
You might not want them to be in the first position when users are looking for you.
Let’s see the Google ads war between asana and monday. Two project management platform.
You might decide to buy your own brand terms as a « brand protection » strategy.
Anyway, keep in mind than Google is only real one winner of that war since your CPC’s will increase due to competition.
The solution to see if competitors are bidding on your brand terms is to look at the auction insight report inside Google ads.
In the screenshot below, we don’t see any competitors.
Case 04: Your SEO is on point and nobody is bidding on your brand term.
Answer these 3 simple questions :
- Are you in #1 position for your brand term? Yes.
- Is you Google my business listing ranking in the map pack (3 first results for local business)? Yes.
- Is somebody buying your brand terms with paid ads? No.
Then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay for traffic that would have come on your website organically.
That is a simple tip that can save you lot of money !
Here is a quick « brand visibility analysis » you can do:
• Type your brand terms and check the SERP’s
The first spot of search result is covered by our website.
The Google My business listing pops up.
So far so good.
• Check Google Search Console
In the performance tab from the search console interface, apply a « query filter » with your brand name.
You will see your average position over time.
• Check Auction insight in Google ads
In Google ads, click on your campaigns that contains brand terms.
Then click on the auction insight tab.
You’ll see right away if competitors are bidding on your brand terms or not.
You can also use this excellent auction insight script to analyze competition.
Case 05. Branded keywords doesn’t bring « incremental conversions ».
Does buying branded keywords bring « extra conversions » ?
Extra conversion means « incremental conversion ». Conversions you would have missed if you weren’t buying branded keywords in Google ads.
There is a very simple test you can make: Pause your brand campaign.
In the screenshot below, the branded keyword campaigns have been reduced to minimum from week 33.
Not entirely paused though. We kept 0,01€ manual CPC bid to be able to analyze the auction insight.
Several competitors were bidding on our branded terms at that time.
• The global volume of conversion remain stable. (Yellow line)
• Conversions naturally switched from branded campaigns (blue line) to organic (red line)
• +2500€ saved monthly on brand campaigns.
Conclusion : Don’t get fooled by total ROAS (branded keywords + non-branded keywords)
As we discovered above, branded keywords are useful and even mandatory in some situations.
However at some point, they don’t necessarily bring incremental conversions and money could be better invested.
Always look at branded keywords performance Vs Non-branded keywords performance.
Merging branded and non-branded results is one of the dirty little tricks that agencies and consultants are doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I did that as well in the past.
The example above doesn’t really need explanation.
The global results seem very positive.
Branded keywords perform as expected (Bottom of funnel).
However, non-branded keywords campaigns are not optimized properly, hence not profitable with a terrible ROAS.
Next time you have a meeting with your PPC agency or consultant, open the discussion and challenge them.
Free resource : Branded vs Non-branded Data Studio Dashboard
I created a free data studio dashboard that I’m happy to share with you guys.
In a few clicks, discover which search terms convert and analyze the balance between branded and non-branded.
Copy the free dashboard
2. Create a new data source in the pop-up
3. Connect your Google Ads account and finalize the copy
I can’t stress how important it is to analyze branded keywords Vs non-branded keywords performance.
I have seen so many companies blowing up to 5 figures budget away on brand terms with absolutely no incremental value.
The role of branded keywords campaigns is simply to « capture users » searching for your brand.
If they search for your brand terms, they probably discovered your brand from other marketing efforts !!
Your focus should be in acquiring new customers that don’t know your brand yet with non-branded keywords for instance.
I would love to know do you think about Branded keywords in Google ads and how your integrate them in your media mix.