Why you have to spend money on branded keywords even if your enterprise ranks #1 in Google


Search marketing is generally considered a key tactic in digital marketing programs.

Capturing the intent of users actively searching for your products or solutions is a simple matter, right?

What seems like a simple question can often be complicated.

Whether it’s due to a tight budget environment or a brand that has a great SEO team, I’ve asked the same question to almost every brand/client I’ve worked with:

“Why should I pay for brand search clicks when our organic search listing is right at the top of the page?”

To be fair to those non-PPC stakeholders who may be reading this article, this is a legitimate question. ]

Logically, I understand why it’s attractive to capture free clicks and focus PPC budgets on tactics that will attract new customers; however, there is a 1+1=3 effect on SEO and PPC results shown together.

Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why brands should continue to invest in their keywords.

1. SERP authority

Search engines are part of everyday life. Every day, billions rely on search engines to fill information gaps in real time. They are a brilliant resource that is only increasing in terms of acceptance and value.

Given how often we use search to solve problems, our brains naturally make a correlation between the position of a search result and its relevance to our original query.

Although somewhat dated, Microsoft and Google have published studies that support this idea.

If you’re still not sure, just take a look Recent earnings from Google and Microsoft – it’s clear that advertisers see this placement as valuable.

Search ads sit above premium real estate organic ads – directly below the search bar. Search ads are usually the first thing a user sees after starting a search.

Not only does your ad eliminate the competition from this prime property – reducing the effectiveness of their competing offers – you also have the freedom to control the message that users see.

While website content can be optimized for search results, PPC provides complete autonomy in presenting your brand message.

The impact of brand SERP management increases as our screen sizes shrink.

Mobile searches continue to grow in almost every search category. Controlling the top search result for mobile brands is crucial because the searcher’s attention is focused on the limited listings that get them to the top of the page.

Combine your search ad with the top organic listing (due to your team’s excellent SEO work) and now you control the top of the SERP and thus (almost) the prospect’s full attention.

2. Auction dynamics

This is the most straightforward rationale for branded search keywords. Simply put, by investing in a brand, you get a lot more for your money.

Take a step back and consider the purpose of search engines. They try to provide users with an optimal experience, which means the most relevant results for the query. If you’ve ever used competitive keywords, you’ve probably seen it in action.

Engines charge an excess for clicks on competitive terms based on the lower relevance of your ad and landing page. In my experience, competitor clicks were 5x to 25x more expensive than brand clicks.

Consider the SERP authority discussed earlier and the economics of search engine auctions. Even if your brand budget is reallocated to generic or competitive terms, it’s possible (if not likely) that you’ll see an overall decrease in website traffic.

Such approaches rely solely on SEO to drive brand traffic, while reducing the effectiveness of your PPC budget.

Even if SEO were to capture 100% of the traffic previously driven by PPC ads, gradual reinvestment in non-brand/competitor terms is unlikely to move the needle due to the relative ineffectiveness of non-brand/competition investment.

To illustrate this, I’ve created a realistic simulation below of how reallocating brand investment to non-brand campaigns could actually result in lower overall site traffic due to the relative ineffectiveness of non-brand volume.

In this scenario, the $1,000 that was previously allocated to brand campaigns is now redirected to non-brand campaigns. Even though SEO results capture 95% of all brand traffic, we’re still seeing about the full month-to-month total traffic, as we’ve achieved 800 fewer PPC clicks by converting from brand to non-brand.

Establishing clean metrics for your business is critical if you find that your brand investment is at risk.

Work with your analytics teams to show how any shifts in investment affect overall site traffic.

3. Meet the customer where he is looking

Although digital marketing has evolved in terms of the complexity of tactics, it is important to understand why search marketing is so effective.

People searching for your brands are looking for additional information about your brand. They tell stories you what they are interested in more about it.

We don’t need to identify those who are close to buying, as they reveal this through their selected queries.

Search is often called the pull channel because we don’t need to show ads in front of users. This is an opportunity to meet those who express an interest in your brand with a thoughtful message.

To use an offline analogy: It’s like someone walking up to the front door of your store and you have no lights on and blinds down.

Never take your most engaged audience for granted. Open up a store and show them what you think is the best deal to get them in the door.

4. Communication autonomy

It’s been mentioned in a few of the arguments above, but the value of getting your message across to users who are interested in your brand far outweighs the cost of a click.

If you want to establish SERP authority or convert potential customers into your brand, you need a personalized message prominently displayed at the top of the page.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing SEO experts and it’s fascinating what they do to impact how a website performs; however, there is an element of certainty with PPC that cannot be replicated.

We all monitor this blog from time to time as we are aware that there are variables in search engines that are beyond our control that can significantly affect the performance of the site.

PPC offers the ability to tailor a message based on known user characteristics. Whether it’s an early interaction where you want to establish your brand’s credibility, or someone who’s been to your site multiple times, PPC gives you the flexibility and autonomy to control how your brand is perceived on some of the most frequently visited sites on the Internet. .

Brand search is a key tactic that advertisers must support at all costs.

There are few other places on the Internet where potential customers are actively looking for more information about your business.

If you’ve actually been asked a similar question, here are some tips on how to have that conversation:

  • I will not panic: Seriously! This question is common and comes from a logical point of view. It’s our job as professionals to educate why brand search is so valuable.
  • Consult your platform representatives: If you work for an agency or brand with existing platform partnerships, rely on your reps as they have data that quantifies the impact of SEO and PPC combined. If not, Google Support will be able to direct you to useful resources.
  • Turn to the numbers: Brand prospecting is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing tactics. Work with your analytics team/leader to create a data-driven story.
  • Measure the impact: If budgets end up being cut, make sure you have a metric in place that quantifies the impact and volume your SEO ads are recapturing.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are cited here.

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About the author

Anthony Tedesco is a search engine marketing expert based in Boston, Massachusetts. He began his career at Red Ventures in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he learned the impact of data-driven performance optimization and full-funnel marketing strategies. He then returned to his native Boston to join DWA/Merkle B2B, working with Fortune 100 brands to maximize the value of their SEM investments. In 2021, Anthony joined the Global Paid Media team at Cisco Systems, Inc., where he coordinates highly effective tactics at scale and helps solve the complex challenges marketers face in the evolving digital landscape. Anthony is an avid Tar Heel and Boston sports fan. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she enjoys traveling to New England with family and friends or catching up on old seasons of Survivor.


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