When to use (and not use) branded keywords in PPC

Bidding on branded keywords can be a bit of a controversial topic in the world of PPC. Is it really beneficial for your business? Is it a waste of money? 

Here we will explain what branded keywords actually are, some scenarios where bidding on branded terms can provide positive or negative results, and whether utilising these keywords is the right decision for your business.

What are Branded Keywords?

Branded keywords are targetable terms in Google Ads that in some way relate to your Business. Some examples of these are your business name, iconic brand products, or key figures of your business. 

Using international technology company Apple as an example, it’s clear from simple keyword research that there are a lot of keywords that are highly linked to their business.

Average monthly searches for term 'apple'
Average monthly searches for Apple product terms

Apple has two options. They can either not advertise for these terms on Google Ads, rely on their Organic presence, and risk competitors appearing above them with paid ads; or they can put a proportion of their advertising budgets towards these keywords.

When Should We Target Branded Keywords?

Protecting Brand Image

Depending on the goals of your business, it may be important to be present for every search including your brand name, key products, services, etc. In this case, you may set aside a budget to ensure an ad is shown for all relevant brand terms.

Maximising Impression Share

In some cases, your organic ranking for a certain product may not be high enough to show in position one. Using branded keywords for PPC can supplement this to ensure you are still showing at the top of the page for a keyword that is important and relevant to your business.

Combating Competition

In competitive industries, direct competitors sometimes try to insert themselves into a customer’s conversion journey by targeting other businesses’ brand terms. 

A great example of this is the competition online between food delivery services. Well-known brands such as UberEats and Deliveroo will aggressively target each other’s branded keywords in order to show higher on the page and potentially steal customers searching for the other’s brand.

Search result example of competitive ads

The downside of this is that some businesses can get into a “bidding war” targeting these priority terms, and this can result in CPC skyrocketing in Google Ads.

When Shouldn’t We Target Branded Keywords?

Low Competition

If your business has quite a high search volume but low competition it may not actually be necessary to bid on branded terms, and it could be more of a detriment than an advantage. 

If no competitors are bidding on your branded terms, or you are confident that people searching for your branded terms would not be swayed by a competitor, then you could consider bidding on these keywords a waste of budget.

Low PPC Budget

If your allocated budget for PPC is small, bidding on a brand may not be your first priority as this will sometimes capture returning visitors already familiar with your brand. It may be more beneficial to rely on organic results to capture people already familiar with your brand and use your full budget for new user acquisition.

Skewing Results

Generally, branded keywords have a much higher conversion rate due to the high conversion intent linked to these searches. We often see conversions here come in with a higher click-through rate and lower CPA, which can skew your account’s overall performance. This is worth bearing in mind when reporting results back to your team.

Is Bidding on Branded Keywords Right for My Business?

It all depends on your priorities for PPC. If you are in a competitive industry, competitors will likely be using tactics to bid on your business’ name to try and steal customers. If you need to maintain a position at the top of the search results in this case, then it may be worth building a brand campaign.

If you are a smaller business with a smaller PPC budget, focusing on brand for PPC may be counterintuitive for growing your business. In this case, you will likely want to focus your budget on acquiring new users and reviewing the need for a brand campaign at a later date.

Unsure of the best route to take with your Google Ads campaigns? Find out how our PPC services can help, or get in touch with our expert team!