Should I Bid on Branded Keywords in Our PPC Campaign?

Marketing professional wonders if he should bid on branded terms in a PPC campaign.
In a search advertising campaign, branded keywords are those you bid on that directly relate to your company’s name and/or brands.

Whenever you talk about bidding on branded terms, an obvious question tends to come up: Why pay for clicks when our company website already shows up as No. 1 in the organic search results for our name?

OK, OK, so if you are the only ad and you are also No. 1 in the organic search results, it can be a huge waste of money to buy branded pay-per-click advertising. (I’ll touch on that dilemma at the end of this article.) But for all other scenarios, it’s worth checking out.

Here are three reasons you want to bid on your branded search terms in PPC:

    1. Show up so your competitors don’t
    2. Get more visibility in the search results
    3. Control the messaging

FAQ: How can I effectively enhance my brand’s online presence using branded keywords in PPC?

We’ll cover those first, and then I’ll touch on how to control wasted ad spend related to bidding on your branded keywords.

1. Show Up So Your Competitors Don’t

One of the first arguments for bidding on your branded terms is because your competition can. Yes, your competitors can and will bid on your company name and your branded keywords so that their ads show up when someone searches for your business, product, etc.

And then, they can steal your traffic and business. People might click on your competitors’ ads for many reasons.

Maybe they are multitasking and just select the first result without looking closely. Maybe they don’t know it’s an ad and think it’s an organic listing instead. Or maybe the competitor’s ad points out your shortcomings, persuading a thoughtful searcher to visit their website instead.

Whatever the issue, you want to be sure your company is showing up for a search on your brand. Case in point: A search for the branded term “quickbooks” is stuffed with competitors’ ads.

Ads showing for the branded term query "quickbooks."
Ads showing for a brand search in Google

By the way, you can find out who is bidding on your branded terms in Google Ads. Once you have a branded campaign, navigate to your Google Ads account > Auction Insights. When you know who is bidding on your terms, you can plan a counterattack.

Auction insights in Google Ads show who is bidding on your branded terms.

If you feel the competition is infringing on any trademarks, you can file a complaint with Google Ads here. And if they are violating Google Ads policies, then you can also report the ad. Or, you can simply reach out to the competitor and have a conversation.

2. Get More Visibility in the Search Results

The organic “blue links” represent only one area of the search results page that you want to own for your branded terms. The more you can show up in the search results, the better! Ranking with SEO and running a PPC campaign simultaneously can reinforce brand awareness and increase conversions.

For example, the search below returns both organic and paid results owned by the brand:

Search engine results page showing an ad and top organic listing for Whole Foods.
Search engine results page showing an ad and top organic listing for Whole Foods

For more on this concept, check out our article on how to have a whole-SERP SEO strategy.

3. Control the Messaging

When someone searches for your brand name, and your website shows up in the organic search results, the displayed snippet is usually pulled from your homepage’s meta data. While you do have control of what you put in your meta data, you don’t always have control of how Google will display it.

Not only does an advertisement give you a lot more control over the messaging, but it also gives you a chance to play with more compelling ad copy than you might want in your homepage’s meta tags.

Here’s an example of how an ad can really make up for the lackluster organic listing of a popular shoe company:

Varying descriptions of the shoe company Rothy’s in an ad versus organic listing.
Varying descriptions of the shoe company Rothy’s in an ad versus organic listing

For more on how meta tags actually work, check out our beginner’s article on meta tags.

Don’t Waste Money by Bidding on Branded Keywords

Alright, so we’ve covered the reasons why bidding on your branded terms is a good idea. But when is it a bad idea?

If you have the only ad showing on the search results page AND you are the No. 1 organic result — that’s when you shouldn’t pay for PPC.

That scenario can result in thousands or millions of wasted ad spend dollars per year, depending on the size of your traffic. (Side note: It looks like the Whole Foods example above currently falls into this category.)

So, what to do? Try doing a quick search with your brand name here.

If you see that you have the only ad followed by the top organic result, then you need some way of mitigating the cost of people clicking on your ad and wasting a lot of your money. Since ads change all the time, this could require some diligent monitoring.

There are tools out there that can help with this; in fact, we deploy one of them as an extension of our PPC services.

The tool we use figures out if you have the only PPC ad and if you are also the first organic result. It then tells Google Ads not to show the ad on the results page for that query. That way, the user never sees it, and you don’t waste ad spend.

This is the kind of thing you need to do to manage wasted ad spend related to bidding on your branded keywords.

At the end of the day, you want to have more control over how your brand shows up on the search results page. Bidding on branded keywords in your search advertising campaign is a no-brainer — so long as it doesn’t end up wasting money.

At Bruce Clay Inc., we offer expert PPC services that focus on reducing waste and maximizing return for your advertising budget. Contact us today for a free quote.

FAQ: How can I effectively enhance my brand’s online presence using branded keywords in PPC?

Branded keywords can help your brand increase visibility online and its impact. Here’s how you can do it efficiently.

Regarding brand recognition, PPC campaigns serve as a dynamic tool. You secure prime real estate in search engine results by bidding on branded keywords. This ensures that your brand appears at the forefront when potential customers search for your offerings. It’s not just about dominating the space; it’s about strategic positioning.

One of the most crucial aspects of utilizing branded keywords in PPC is countering competition. Your competitors will likely bid on your brand terms to redirect traffic to their sites. By doing the same, you safeguard your brand from being overshadowed. It’s a proactive measure that safeguards your hard-earned reputation and directs users to your official channels.

Striking a balance between organic and paid search results is essential. The synergy between these two avenues reinforces brand recall and fosters trust. When users encounter your brand multiple times across different sections of the search results, it reinforces your authority and increases the likelihood of them engaging with your offerings.

Messaging control is another compelling reason to invest in branded keywords. Organic search results often pull snippets from your website’s metadata, limiting your control over messaging. With PPC ads, you can craft persuasive ad copies highlighting your brand’s strengths and unique selling points. This allows you to guide the narrative and influence users’ perceptions positively.

Incorporating branded keywords into your PPC strategy demands vigilance. Regularly monitor your campaigns and adapt to changes in competition and market trends. Implement data-driven optimizations to fine-tune your approach. By aligning your PPC efforts with your broader branding goals, you create a holistic online presence that resonates with your target audience.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Enhancing Brand Presence with Branded Keywords in PPC

  1. Identify Core Brand Keywords: List the primary keywords encompassing your brand identity and offerings.
  2. Conduct Competitor Analysis: Research your competitors’ PPC strategies to understand their approach to bidding on branded terms.
  3. Craft Compelling Ad Copies: Develop engaging and relevant ad copies highlighting your brand’s unique value proposition.
  4. Strategic Bidding: Allocate your budget strategically to bid on branded keywords that matter the most to your brand.
  5. Monitor Auction Insights: Regularly check Google Ads’ Auction Insights to identify competitors bidding on your branded terms.
  6. Utilize Negative Keywords: Exclude irrelevant terms from your PPC campaign to ensure your ads appear for the most relevant searches.
  7. Landing Page Optimization: Ensure that the landing page associated with your ads provides a seamless user experience.
  8. Analyze Data and Metrics: Regularly analyze campaign performance metrics to identify areas of improvement.
  9. Refine Ad Campaigns: Based on data insights, refine your ad campaigns to enhance their effectiveness.
  10. Leverage Ad Extensions: Use ad extensions to provide additional information and encourage user interaction.
  11. Experiment with Ad Formats: Test different ad formats to find the ones that resonate most with your target audience.
  12. Segment and Target Audiences: Segment your audience and tailor your ad messaging to specific demographics.
  13. Optimize Ad Scheduling: Schedule your ads to appear during peak hours when your target audience is most active.
  14. Allocate Budget Wisely: Adjust your budget allocation based on the performance of different branded keywords.
  15. Implement A/B Testing: Continuously conduct A/B tests to determine which ad variations yield the best results.
  16. Stay Updated: Keep up with industry trends and changes in search engine algorithms to stay ahead of the competition.
  17. Track ROI: Monitor the return on investment for your branded keyword campaigns to assess their impact.
  18. Adapt to Changes: Be prepared to adapt your strategy based on your brand’s positioning and customer behavior shifts.
  19. Continual Optimization: Implement ongoing optimization based on the evolving branded keywords and PPC landscape.
  20. Refine Brand Messaging: Continuously refine your ad messaging to align with your evolving brand identity and goals.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (4)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent PPC/Pay-Per-Click posts is better than the last!

4 Replies to “Should I Bid on Branded Keywords in Our PPC Campaign?”

Although there are two schools of thought on this paid search issue, we’ve put out a detailed argument for why paying on your branded keywords makes sense for your business, no matter what industry you’re in.I am an expert in ppc management services.

How have you used structured data to earn featured snippets?

Robert Stefanski

Hi FR002,

We find that Q&A, FAQ and How-To structured data seems to be best at helping get featured snippets since they are direct answers to a question that the user may search for, though there are other Schema types that will work to. This structured data should be a direct reflection of what is in the content.

Hope this helps!

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