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AdWords: Should you be running keywords on your brand?

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The one question that always seems come up with advertisers is ‘should we be running campaigns on our branded keywords’? We rank for them organically, so what’s the point? Arguments have been made on both sides, but I almost always recommend bidding on your brand.

The biggest contention about bidding on these keywords is that you’re throwing money away on traffic you’d get anyway. Sure you’re likely to get a good portion of this traffic for free, but the benefit of paid ads is you have much more control over what happens to these visitors. By relying solely on Organic results, you leave the landing page in the hands of Google. For brand related keywords, this will often mean the homepage. By using paid ads, you have the flexibility to send users to specifically targeted landing pages that have the potential to convert at a higher rate. This might include a special seasonal promotion or perhaps an event you want to raise awareness for. Targeting can be taken a step further by serving up different ads and landing pages based on a user’s location. Perhaps you have a large ecommerce store promoting shoes for Christmas. You can promote rain boots in Seattle, flip flops in Hawaii and snow boots in Wisconsin. Yes, you’re going to pay for this flexibility, but this can be made up for with the increase you get in conversion rates.

With branded keywords you’re also going to have the benefit of very high quality scores. This will help you in a couple of different ways. The first is that while you’ll be paying for clicks, they’re going to be relatively inexpensive. Remember, high quality scores equal low cost per clicks. The second benefit is the higher likelihood of your ads showing sitelinks or product extensions (when enabled). For those that don’t know, sitelinks can give you up to an additional 6 links displayed alongside your ad. This allows your website to increase the real estate it occupies on the page and gives consumers more choices to click on. Product extensions, which uses your Google Merchant Center account, can highlight products directly within your ads increasing exposure and allowing users the benefit on clicking through to specific merchandise.

If you’re unconvinced that bidding on keywords is a good idea, then it’s as simple as doing some testing. Just like almost everything we talk about, the key to understanding what works and what doesn’t boils down to testing. Run ads on your brand and find out how it affects your ROI.

  • http://makethemclick.com.au/library Mark @ Make Them Click

    Ken,

    thanks for this post, it’s the first sensible answer I’ve heard on this. One of my clients totally dominates the first page of search results for their brand terms, complete with a swag of sitelinks.

    And naturally we’ve been agonizing over “do we keep the paid ads as well, or do we drop them.”

    It’s quite a hefty expense, so the savings would be major.

    And yes we should test and see what happens if we turn them off.

  • Sadiqenterprises

    i dont like brands

  • http://www.clickclickmedia.com.au/ Phil

    Personally I think the arguments for are more than against, I have always thought of brand campaigns as an extension of the companies marketing efforts, different landing pages and being able to test ad text and promotions can allow you to test before investing in other media. 

    Great blog btw. -Phil

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