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Should You Bid on Your Own Brand Terms in AdWords?

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This is a question that comes up a lot with new AdWords managers or business owners who are doing PPC for the first time.

“Should I bid on my own brand terms in AdWords?”

The rationale for not bidding on your own brand terms goes something like this: Most companies already rank #1 in Google for their own brand. With that in mind, should they “waste” any of their precious ad budget on brand terms they already rank #1 for?

The answer is yes, and this post explains why.

Reason #1: Competitor’s Ads

The first reason is that competitors may bid on your own brand terms which means they can end up stealing really valuable clicks.

Think about it like this: If someone searches for your brand, they’re probably really interested in what you have to sell. But if your competitor sneaks in and steals the click, you just lost a highly interested prospect to the one company you don’t want to lose clicks to.

As such, the number one reason to bid on your own brand name is to make sure your competitors don’t have an ad that ranks higher than your organic result and steal valuable clicks in the process.

If you look at the example below, Wordstream ranks #1 organically for the term “wordstream,” and they also rank number one for paid results. However, sandwiched in between is an ad for FishGoogle who has the audacity to use a headline that says “Better Than Wordstream.” Keep in mind that if Wordstream wasn’t bidding on their own brand name, their organic result would be listed below a headline from a competitor stating that they’re better than Wordstream. That’s not good.

Wordstream PPC

 

Reason #2: The cost per click is really cheap

One thing new AdWords advertisers don’t realize is that the cost per click (CPC) for branded terms is really, really cheap.

Your average CPC might be $1.50, for example, but you can buy branded clicks for $0.30. Yes, you may have received some of those clicks for free since you rank number one, but it’s worth $0.30 or whatever it ends up costing not to lose the click to a competitor.

So keep in mind that branded clicks tend to be the cheapest clicks you’ll get since the CTR and Quality Score will be extremely high due to the fact that people are already searching for your company. They’ll also end up being worth it since you’re guarding your brand from losing its most valuable clicks.

Reason #3: More traffic

Bidding on your own term also results in more traffic.

Bing ran a study to see what the click yield is like for companies that rank both #1 organically and also with ads for their own brand. (Click yield is defined as the number of clicks a company receives from organic and paid results per 100 searches.)

They found that having an ad in the #1 position along with the #1 organic search position resulted in an 88% yield compared to a 56% yield for branded terms alone. That equates to 32 more clicks per 100 searches when ranking #1 for both the ad and organic positions.

Bing PPC Study

 

 

Based on these results, your overall traffic numbers should go up by bidding on branded terms, something every business is interested in.

You do need to keep in mind, however, that, according to the study, paid results cannibalize approximately 18% of the clicks you’d get from only ranking #1 organically. The chart below shows the difference and the overlap since paid clicks do cannibalize some organic clicks.

Organic and paid clicks

With this in mind, you may not want to bid on your own brand if you have a super tight PPC budget. Otherwise, it’s worth it because your overall traffic will go up by 32%.

(You can read more about the full study here.)

Reason #4: Take up more of the SERP space

Another commonly mentioned reason for bidding on your own brand terms is to take up more SERP space.

When you rank #1 in both the ad and organic listings, you take up valuable space that your competitors may otherwise take up. You’ll occupy more positions and you’ll also take up more SERP real estate.

It’s also known that the top SERP space is the most valuable are in Google and other ad platforms. Sidebar ads get some clicks, but the majority go to the ads above search results and organic results.

Thus, by taking up two of the most important positions, you end up taking up more of the extremely valuable SERP space that your competitors would love to occupy, something you can see in the image below.

Hubspot PPC results

Reason #5: Customize your message

Something else to keep in mind is that by bidding on your own brand term, you have the opportunity to customize the message searches will see.

When it comes to organic results, you’re at the mercy of whatever Google decides to show, which usually means the title for the page and the meta description you may or may not have customized.

But with a paid result, you can write whatever ad copy you’d like, and even experiment with different copy to see what gets more clicks. You can use this information to improve your messaging elsewhere and also to make sure you get as many clicks as possible from your ads and organic rankings.

Reason #6: Better ROI overall

Finally, bidding on branded keywords means you’ll get a better return on your marketing budget overall.

Let’s say for example that you spend money on an off-line marketing campaign or do something else to generate awareness for your business (press release, speak at a conference, etc).

One of the first things people will do is Google your brand to find out more about you. But if you don’t bid on your own term, it’s possible, as mentioned before, that this super valuable click will get lost to a competitor.

It’s important to keep in mind that branded searches are some of the most valuable clicks for a business which means you want to dominate both the paid and organic results for your brand so you can capture the largest impression and click share possible.

Conclusion

In the end, we know that there will always be some debate about this topic. Some people will argue that you shouldn’t bid on your own terms, especially SEO folks.

Really, it’s up to you and what works for your campaign and budget. You may not want to do it if your budget is super tight, but if you have competitors bidding on your brand name and don’t want to lose those valuable clicks, you definitely want to start bidding on your company’s brand terms.

Quick iSpionage Promo: One way to find out if competitors are bidding on your brand is to set up an iSpionage Keyword Alert. Keyword Alerts notify you by email when something changes related to your most valuable keywords. By setting up an alert, you can make sure to find out if one or more of your competitors starts bidding on your brand terms. Start a free account now to get started.

Author

Joe Putnam Headshot
Joe Putnam is the blog editor at iSpionage. You can get his latest PPC and CRO advice on Twitter at @josephputnam.

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  • Nice article Joe and I totally agree with you! I have often head from clients that they feel no need to bid on their own branded terms because they are just paying for business they’d get anyway. I wrote an article on this last year and added that you should also encourage your affiliate marketers to bid on those terms as well (http://www.suebrady5.com/heres-why-you-need-to-buy-your-own-branded-search-terms-and-let-your-resellers-do-it-too/).

    • This isn’t an easy concept for a lot of people to grasp, but once you realize those clicks are cheaper AND more valuable AND will drive more total traffic, it starts to make sense.

  • Great summary. We’ve often debated whether or not to bid on our own brand. Appreciate the clarification and the use of specific metrics. Looks like we’ll be turning it back on 😉

    Cheers

    • I’ve debated this as well and found the data from the Bing study to be particularly helpful.

  • Pingback: Are You Advertising on Google Adwords For Your Brand Keywords? - Digital Marketing Promotions()

  • One of the updated and instructive blog series. Useful and advantageous for marketing individuals.

  • oliver james

    The article is really helpful aand thanks alot for sharing.
    Here is the another side of bidding on branded keywords which i read on LinkedIn.
    Did you know why eBay stopped bidding on their brand name in 2013? If yes, then that may not be applicable to your brand! It’s crucial to interrogate what’s in your brand’s best interest. It’s also important to remember that, whilst AdWords can instantly gratify those looking for a higher click through rate or increased traffic, these are mostly short-term triumphs.
    For more information visit digital potion

  • Bill Stevenson

    When I found out our PPC Management Company was spending 10% of our budget on our Brand Name I tole them: Ridiculous, turn it off! [Organically] we’re No #1 already…

    After 6-months, I asked them, What’s happened to our Sales?

    They said: But you said Turn off the Brand Name ads…

    Sure enough, our competitors were bidding on our name / and we are the market leader! Our customers, searching for us, saw the same products, just a slightly different designed site… we were losing sales!! Even though our name is Trademarked, Google allows Trademark names in Keywords! (just so long as they’re not in the Ad Copy)

    So, switch back on the Brand Advertising, spend some time outbidding the others… Sales are back where they used to be…

    The customer, searching your Brand, is almost always oblivious to this Slieght of Hand… Lesson learned!!

  • Great post. Good points. Thanks

  • mike webster

    Another, often overlooked behavior, particularly among the less intensive internet user, is the error of “accidentally” conducting a google search for the desired URL (instead of simply entering the desired URL into the address bar). Often a prospect searching for, say, http://www.thecompanynamehere.com, will actually conduct a google search for http://www.thecompanynamehere.com instead and competition paying for ads using your brand could grab some of this pre-qualified, brand exposed traffic.