Why Is PPC Brand Keyword Bidding So Essential? 

Image of Pay Per Click spelled out in Scrabble lettersWhen starting out with PPC as a smalltomedium business, it can be tempting to plough all of your budget into non-brand keyword phrases – i.e., those which don’t include your business name or other branding information, but which focus on the type of product or service type you provide, for example “plumber in Bristol” or “hairdressers near me”. 

You might think: “I can reach a huge audience if I focus on non-brand bids – people who might not have even heard of me otherwise! And my existing pool of people who know of my brand isn’t large enough to generate much revenue.” You would be right about the first part – but hold fire on the second part! 

First of all, a quick reminder… 

What is the difference between brand and non-brand keyword phrases?

Brand keyword phrases are those which contain your company name. For example, a shoe shop called Step Forwards might bid on the brand keyword phrase “Step Forwards shoe sale”. Non-brand keyword phrases are those which don’t contain your company name, but relate to products or services which you provide. In the case of the shoe shop, this might be “Shoe sale UK”. 

Why brand PPC is worth investing in

Your existing customers will most likely search for you by name, for which your website, if properly optimised, should rank highly organically. However, Google’s search result pages are dominated by pay-per-click ads, so even if you rank at the top of organic results, these will be listed below the paid search results.

Furthermore, if you don’t have a paid campaign for your brand, then this leaves room for competitors to jump in and potentially “steal” your customer, by bidding on your business name themselves – this is very common! To see how this works, Google the name of a popular flower delivery service, and check what ads come up. The business you’ve searched for should be there, but in all likelihood the other ads will be from that business’s competitors, bidding to capture their brand clicks.

Another great reason to bid on brand keywords is that, as a general rule, brand keywords are more likely to convert into revenue, having what we call a “high conversion rate”. This is because these searchers have already heard of your business, meaning that their loyalty to the brand is probably higher than a non-brand searcher, and they are likely further down the sales funnel. 

It is especially important to allow for brand keyword budget if you typically get a lot of business from word of mouth – these days if a happy customer recommends you to a friend, they’re likely to Google you – so make it easy for them to find you.  

Why non-brand PPC campaigns are just as key

Non-brand keywords – those focusing on products or services as opposed to company names – are just as essential to target, especially for smalltomedium businesses. Non-brand keyword campaigns are what are going to put you in front of a new audience – one which might not necessarily have heard of your brand before, but whose needs correlate with your offering, and therefore are potential future customers.  

While non-brand keywords can have a lower conversion rate at face value, every time you pay for one of those clicks, even if that click doesn’t convert, you are potentially creating a new future customer.  

Furthermore, non-brand campaigns can send a large volume of traffic to your website. If your brand isn’t well established then brand campaigns aren’t likely to send the same volume of traffic as your non-brand campaigns, which are likely to receive more searches 

The value of this brand awareness to you will depend on how well-established your business already is. Either way, non-brand campaigns can still convert into revenue, giving you that precious return on investment. 

The key is to develop a balance between brand and non-brand campaigns, that send you a large volume of traffic from all stages of the sales funnel.  

How should I split my brand vs non-brand spend?

This varies hugely between industries, size of business, length of establishment, your main objective (Is it to reach a wide audience? To substantially increase web traffic? To give a high ROI?) and other factors. If you’re really not sure where to start, then take a small budget and test an initial 50/50 spending split between non-brand campaigns (those which will connect searchers to your products and services) and brand campaigns (those which will connect searchers to you because of your brand). A few weeks with a modest budget will help you to gauge how well this split performs, after which you can tweak the split to maximise your results, and scale up your spend accordingly.  

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