Dave Chaffey - Insights Director at ClickThrough Marketing, The Search Conversion Experts

In the first of two posts, Dr Dave Chaffey explains how many consumers still rely on navigational brand search queries to find sites, and why marketers should start to look at brand and non-brand searches in isolation.

With the importance of navigational searches incorporating a brand name as a shortcut to company or it’s services, it’s crucial that companies pay close attention to how they’re managed. This means making sure your agency or internal paid search specialists report separately on search performance for brand search terms.  It also means that you need to review the implications of any changes in policy to use of brand terms within paid search advertising and in particular Google Adwords which as you’ll know accounts for more than 90% of UK searches.

In navigational search or brand searching behaviour, searchers aim to go direct to a known company site by typing in the site or brand name. Alternatively they will type the site or brand name and append a qualifier such as a product name to the query. This shortcuts the site navigation and may make up for shortcomings in the sites own search engine or navigation.

Research by Atlas and Hitwise shows that navigational searches may account for over half of all searches and the figure is higher for well-known brands or companies who are not effective in tapping into the non-navigational searches… Certainly it’s one of the KPIs we review when auditing search marketing for a company paying particular attention to the proportion of brand search clicks for paid and natural search. I’ve seen cases where branded search can account for 80 to 90% of all clicks when insufficient attention has been paid to generic and long-tail search terms.

Of course attracting converting visitors at a lower cost is more straightforward for brand search terms, so it’s essential to separate out reporting into brand and non-brand to review performance for the more challenging non-brand terms. I’m surprised how few companies do this in top-level reports, yet it’s straightforward to setup within an analytics package, for example, a Google Analytics custom advanced segments.

In my next post I’ll be discussing how the latest change to the Google AdWords trademark policy could mean brand owners paying even more than they currently do for their navigational traffic.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.