How To Protect Your Brand In Search

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Competitors can bid on your branded terms. Don’t lose out. Read on to learn how to bid on your brand name, when to bid and how to optimise ad spend to get the best results.

You should regularly audit your AdWords account and when you do, auditing your brand coverage should be one of your main priorities. This means looking at branded keywords (keywords that contain your brand name), assessing their visibility, and optimising spend.

Why is this important? Two words: brand protection.

Until 2008, Google didn’t allow advertisers to bid on competitor brand names, but things changed. So now you can bid on competitors’ branded terms, but you may not be able to include them in your ad text if they are trademarked. What this means is that customers searching specifically for your business could end up be attracted by a competitor’s advert. This is why you need to take action to protect your brand in search.

Does this mean bidding on your brand name as a keyword? For some businesses, yes – but for others, it’s just not worth it.

When to Bid on Your Brand Name

A small business in an uncompetitive market may find that no competitors are bidding on its brand name. For this business, bidding on its brand name simply to secure a top position in Google search may be a waste of money, as it will likely already appear as the #1 organic result, with no paid search competition.

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However, a big retailer in an aggressively competitive marketplace will likely need to bid on its own brand name, or risk competitors adverts pushing its search results below the fold.

This retailer will also have to ensure that its bids are set high enough to ensure customers go straight to its site. Whenever possible, you should aim to appear in position #1 for your own brand terms – you can’t rely on organic results to bring in clicks!

This is a very simplistic view, however – your own decision on how to protect your brand will be determined by the nuances and specifics of your industry.

Here are some more things to consider:

Controlling Your Message

Even the humblest businesses in the quietest markets can benefit from bidding on their brand name as a means to control their messaging.

For example, if you’re running a sale, you could create an ad group to announce this to customers, bidding on brand-name keywords.

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Why do you need PPC to do this? Because organic search is unpredictable.

You could change the title and description of your website and wait for it to appear in organic results. But this will take time, and when Google does pick up the change, there’s no guarantee that it will choose to display the title and description you’ve provided. (And it could even hurt your organic search performance!)

Bidding on Brand + Product Keywords

It might not be a good idea to lump all your brand keywords into a single brand campaign. For example, have you thought about [brand + product] keyword constructions?

This is often overlooked, and is another point where competitors could outbid you and steal traffic – as they will be bidding on the product on phrase match.

Rugs and carpets

Imagine, for instance, that your brand is called Carpet City. You sell a wide range of rugs and other floor coverings.

It’s likely that your competitors are bidding on ‘rugs’ on phrase match. This means their ads will trigger for the search query ‘Carpet City rugs’.

In this example, Carpet City should bid aggressively on the keyword ‘Carpet City rugs’ on exact match. This ensures its customers see the ad they expect to see in first position – a Carpet City ad.

If you do decide to target keywords like this, we advise putting them in a separate campaign. This gives you more control over budgets.

Best-Practice Tips on Branded Search

  • Maximise with match types. Certain brand names will work better with an exact match while others could get away with a broad match - it all depends on the uniqueness of your brand name. For example, AstraZeneca or Microsoft, could set brand-name keywords to broad match, while brands like Apple should avoid broad match at all costs, as brand names based on common words are most likely to bring in unwanted traffic. For more on match types, read our recent blog post on How To Choose the Right Match Types to Reach Your Audience.
  • Set targets. Brand keywords are often more profitable than generic keywords. This is because those who search for your brand have likely already made up their mind about the retailer they want to purchase from. For this reason, you may wish to set different targets for brand versus non-brand keywords.
  • Reputation management. This is an important consideration in PPC, especially when it comes to brand keywords. As well as biding on brand keywords, build out your negatives lists for terms you don’t want associated with your brand. For example, keyword constructions like [brand + ‘scam’] or [brand + ‘sucks’] are unlikely to bring in traffic that converts.

This post is adapted and abridged from our FREE eBook – The Best-Practice Guide to AdWords Audits: Part One.

Download your copy now to discover our best-practice recommendations to help you audit your AdWords account, optimise budget and improve performance.

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