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To Bid or Not to Bid on Brand Keywords in Paid Search

To bid or not to bid on brand keywords, that is the question. And ask this to any search engine marketing specialist and they’ll tell you that bidding on brand terms is a must when creating any paid search campaign.

We always get the question from our clients, why should I pay for a click if a customer is already searching for my brand and I appear in the top organic spot? In today’s blog post, I go over what is a brand keyword, why you should be bidding on them, and the best practices you should be using when implementing them.

What’s a Brand Keyword?

Brand keywords can be best defined as any keyword that includes your brand name or variations of it. For example, if I was creating a new paid search account for Stream Companies, our brand keywords would look something like this:

  • Stream Companies
  • Stream Companies Paid Search Management
  • Stream Companies PPC Management

As you can see, branded keywords come in all sizes, and they don’t have to be a pure brand keyword, which are brand keyword without any generic parts (e.g., Stream Companies).

When creating a new account, the ad group structure should be set up by match type so we can funnel converting broad and phrase match keywords into our exact match ad group. Doing this will allow us to capture and bid on converting long-tail brand keywords that our potential customers are using. We can then bid directly on those cheaper exact-match brand keywords.

Why Should I Bid on My Brand Keywords?

Clients frequently ask why they should bid on brand keywords if they’re already positioned well organically. There are a variety of reasons why we want to continue bidding on these brand terms even organic rankings is at the top of the page.

  1. Don’t Lose Potential Customers.
    • When a potential customer is searching for you by a brand term, they’re specifically looking for your product or service. In this case, bidding on your own brand terms will ensure that your ad and organic ranking are working hand in hand and potential customers aren’t lured away by a competitor’s ad that offers the same service or product.
  2. Send Your Customers Where You Want Them.
    • If a customer is searching for your brand and you’re not bidding on your brand terms, where they land on your site is up to the search engine. Usually organic search results will direct your potential customers to your homepage. By utilizing paid search you have control over where you can send your customers! You can funnel them directly to a customized landing page, a form submission page, or a sale offer page. Doing this will put you back in control of where your customer lands.
  3. Ad Extensions and Sitelinks.
    • Ad extensions give you the ability to offer more information about your brand while also directing customers to other landing pages besides the one you’re using specifically in your ad or that’s showing organically. This is a great way to direct customers to popular product pages, special offers pages, and/or contact information pages. Sitelinks as well as the other available ad extensions are free to enable, create, and implement!
  4. You Don’t Rank #1 Organically.
    • Hopefully this isn’t the case, but there are times and scenarios when your site may not hold the top ranking for brand searches. Your site could be new and the search engines haven’t fully indexed your site, or there’s not enough quality content on your site, for instance.


If you find yourself in this scenario, bidding on your own brand terms would be paramount. If a customer is looking for you and they can’t find you organically, they’re going to shop with someone they can easily find. Implementing paid search would be the only way to reach those customers looking for your brand while you continue to optimize your site to increase your organic ranking.

Best Practices When Implementing Paid Search Brand Campaigns.

When implementing any new campaign, the structure is the most important part, as having a proper account structure helps with future optimization and gives you more control over your keyword bids.

When creating your brand campaign, we want to make sure that we capture all relevant and converting customer search queries, which is why we want to build out ad groups based on match type. Structuring your account in this way gives you better control over your keyword bids, and you can easily identify what keywords are converting and what keywords aren’t.

We want to cast a wide net to capture search terms using broad and phrase match keywords. Then, by using the search query report, we can see exactly what term the customer used to trigger the ad and if they convert. Converting keywords would then be added to the exact match ad group. Doing this allows us to bid on exact match brand keywords that are cheaper and offer a better quality score then phrase or broad match.

Our goal is to always pay the lowest amount for clicks and conversions. Using this method is the best way to control spend while being able to easily identify and add new converting brand keywords.

We also want to make sure that brand terms aren’t triggering ads in other non-brand campaigns. This will skew any KPIs or conversion metrics. We want to make sure that brand and non-brand terms are separated correctly to ensure that this doesn’t happen; add all of your brand terms as negative match types for non-brand campaigns and vice versa. This will make sure that your brand keywords only trigger branded ads.

Any paid search account should include a branded campaign. They can keep your competitors at bay, allow you to create ads that work hand in hand with your organic results, give you control of where your customer lands, and let you control what message you want to deliver to your customers.

In the end, it’s all about growing conversions at the lowest cost; a properly structured and implemented brand campaign will certainly help you start to achieve these goals.

We at Stream can help you achieve your hard to reach paid search goals, and we offer a wide variety of digital marketing services. Feel free to contact us or schedule your FREE 20-Minute Marketing Health Assessment by clicking here!

-Sincerly Jason

Jason is a Paid Search Specialist at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia-area advertising agency{{cta(‘866e7f9b-bf55-4470-839a-082ef63dfdc8’)}}