Jun 6, 2018

How to make the most of your non-branded keywords

By Supermetrics

Performance Marketing Analytics

[ Updated Jun 6, 2018 ]

10-MINUTE READ · By Misty Faucheux

With paid search, we are often segmenting our campaigns or ad groups into branded and non-branded keywords since we know both are relevant to capturing the attention of current and new customers. Yet, looking at both branded and non-branded keywords in terms of SEO is also important. Why? Before we dive into that, it’s imperative to do a quick refresher on the difference between branded and non-branded keywords.

Difference between branded and non-branded keywords

Branded keywords are any keywords intimately connected to your company. These could be a product, the name of company itself or any other copyrighted name of something, i.e. a particular division within the company or a service.

With branded keywords, you’re typically looking at people who are familiar with your brand and have done a search to locate either your particular company or something related to it. For both PPC and SEO, these people are important. They already know you and are probably they’re here to either learn a bit more or buy. Visitors coming into your site from branded terms usually lead to conversions and have a high return on investment . Oftentimes, these are our current customers, and we want them to keep coming back and to remain a loyal buyer for years to come. Yet, this isn’t expanding our audience.

On the flip-side is non-branded. These keywords are pretty much anything else. These are the general keywords that people search to try and find a product or service that fits their needs. They may not know who offers what they want, or they simply want to get some information about potential companies.

These possible customers may not know anything about you. They may have just found you doing a search and are interested in learning more. Unlike the branded peeps, these are often net-new “uniques”: people who may not have ever heard of your brand or have come to your website. These visitors are important for ensuring that your business grows, and you are attracting new customers.

How to see your traffic breakout

Most of us know our branded terms or can recognize variations of them in search queries on both paid search and organic platforms. You can see examples of Google Search Console and the Search Term reports in Google Ads below:


Yet, going through all these keywords every month and breaking them out can be time consuming. Luckily, you can leverage third-party tools to make your Google Search Console data even more effective. For example, Supermetrics has a branded vs. non-branded search queries dimension that helps you easily break out these two types of keywords. This allows you to comprehensively compare insights between the two groups, including determining how much traffic you’re getting from each set.

How to use this data

Now, that you can see the break out of our different types of keywords, what do you do now? This is where the work comes into play. This data can provide you with a wide variety of insights. Let’s take this example: 90% of your traffic on both organic and paid search is coming from the name of your company or some variation. This has been stable over the past year, and you really haven’t seen any movement on non-branded keywords.

What this means is that the people coming to your website already probably know a lot about you. Perhaps, they’ve shopped with you before, or they heard about you, and now they’re ready to buy from you. Either case, this most likely will lead to a conversion. But, what about the people who have never heard of your brand, but are looking for products or services similar to what you offer? You also want to reach these people. These are your non-branded keyword visitors.

If you want to determine how well you’re doing in each category, run a PPC campaign, and break out your branded and non-branded keywords into two different campaigns. Allow the campaign to run for 6 to 8 weeks, and then review the data. Review your quality score, ad rank, conversions, CTR and CPC. Are there major differences between the two campaigns? If so, you might need to do some non-paid-search-related efforts to boost your results

You should do the same with SEO – but in a slightly different way. In most cases, your highest clicks will come from branded keywords. But, if you’ve been working on your SEO with on-page optimization and content marketing efforts, you should see that start to pay off with movement on target keywords. Let’s say that you’re focusing on the keyword “outsourced IT market analysis”, and you’ve been creating a lot of content around it, then you should see some movement in this arena in six months or so. If you’re your target keywords aren’t increasing rank, this means that you may not be doing enough to increase awareness of your brand.

What to do now?

If you find that you’re not getting found or traffic from non-branded terms, it might be time to increase your brand awareness via other methods, i.e. social, PR, TV, etc. This way, when people search for a product or service similar to the ones that you offer, they’re more than likely to select you since they have some familiarity with the brand . So, in this context, even non-branded keywords require some branding. No one is going to buy from a company that they can’t find a lot of information on or of whom they’ve never heard.

Consider running a brand awareness campaign on LinkedIn or Facebook. While you might not get any ROI on it, you’ll expand your potential awareness and help them get to know your brand. Think of investing in non-branded keywords as investment in the future. Remember: it takes someone seeing your brand several times before they even begin to recognize you. If ROI is a big concern, you can keep your spend on non-branded PPC marketing campaigns relatively low and boost your efforts in other arenas, especially the organic side. More than likely, this won’t be an overnight success, but with time, you’ll be attracting new customers while still keeping your loyal ones coming back for more.

You might be wondering which ones of these takes precedence? The answer is both. You always need a good mix of traffic from both branded and non-branded keywords.

About Misty Faucheux


Misty Faucheux is an Integrated Online Marketing Specialist at Faucheux Enterprises and a guest writer for Supermetrics. She is a digital marketer, specializing in SEO, SEM, content marketing/writing and social ads. Misty helps companies develop a cohesive online marketing strategy that directly addresses their overall business goals and objectives. You can find her on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Flickr.

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