To Bid or Not to Bid (on your brand keywords)

Brand keywords are an important part of overall paid search strategy. However, many advertisers are often unsure or else completely against it. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked “Why would I buy my own trademarked terms if I’m already showing up number one in free, organic listings?”

This argument may seem logical, but there are some very sound (and proven) reasons for buying your brand’s keywords:

1) Protect and own your brand in search results: Search engines allow competitors and/or affiliates to bid on virtually any trademarked term. While some advertisers consider it “unethical”, the reality is that it’s a very common practice. Why let your competitors and affiliates own that ad real estate to either a) push their own product/service as an alternative or worse, b) use false or misleading ads to confuse your potential customers?

Controlling your brand image is crucial offline and online, and PPC ads are perfect for this. You can change and test messaging on the fly, and even use “”Official Site” in ads so as to make clear your ad will lead that user to the actual site they were searching.

2) Improve your quality scores: Bidding on your brand keywords may also help improve Quality Scores, as suggested by Dave Davis here – “…always bid (and bid high) on your company or brand name. You will get a massive boost in historical CTR because 70%+ of the time, your ad is what searchers are looking for. You will pay pennies per click and decrease the normalized Quality Score and historical account CTR of any competitors bidding on your brand or company name!”

3) Brand keywords yield lower CPCs and higher click through rates, which can also mean lower cost per acquisitions.

4) Overall search revenue may be higher:

From PPC Associates:

“…test shows that brand keywords increased total brand conversions (SEO+SEM) by around 10% even though competition was rare on both paid and organic listings”

From Econsultancy:

“… investment in brand paid search delivers incremental revenue. As soon as we paused the ads, the total revenue from search dropped and wasn’t fully compensated via other channels”

From Enquiro Research:

“When a brand name is the top result in both natural and paid search results, 83% of consumers looking to buy would consider a purchase. Without paid search, however, the same brand name as the top result in organic search only obtains 73% purchase consideration”

As with everything else PPC, you ultimately must decide what’s best for YOUR brand because every industry, company, product and/or offer is different. The only way to know how buying brand keywords impacts your bottom line is to test it  yourself. Pause your branded PPC campaign and/or ad group for a set time frame, then closely monitor organic traffic and overall conversions to see if you experience significant decrease in traffic or loss in revenue.

NOTE: You as an advertiser can file a Google AdWords trademark complaint letter specifically advising Google that you do not want other advertisers using your trademark in their ad. However, this does NOT mean advertisers must stop buying your trademark. You would probably need your lawyer to send a cease and desist directly to the company because the search engines clearly state they do not police this on their advertiser’s behalf.

Read the Google AdWords trademark policy, and here’s the link to file trademark complaint letter.