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This is one of the most common questions you’ll get asked as a PPC account manager.

Some clients are adamant that you shouldn’t ever do it, whereas others understand the value and the reasons behind the decision to do it.

In the following post I will explore several different reasons why you may or may not wish to bid on brand terms.

Natural search position

The first thing you should think about is where you are in the organic search results. If you are anywhere other than first place then you must bid on brand terms.

Anything below first place on the organic results gets a relatively small proportion of clicks, even if it is exactly what the user is searching for.

Be sure to see how you rank naturally for a range of different search terms relating to your brand, including misspellings, long tail keywords and the words in a different order if your brand name is more than one word.


Is anyone else bidding on your brand terms? Are they appearing in the premium advertising positions above your organic result? Look at this result when we search for Admiral life insurance:

Bidding on Brand Terms

We can see several companies actually appearing above Admiral’s natural listing. This could lead to them stealing potential customers.

If this is ever the case then you should always consider bidding on your brand terms also. It shouldn’t take long for your CTR to increase to a high enough level to give you a strong quality score and get you top spot for a decent price. 

Other advertising forms

Another thing to consider on this point is if you are spending money on other advertising sources. If you’ve already paid for the traffic once (via TV/radio/newspapers etc.) you really don’t want competitors stealing your traffic.

If you’ve spent £1,000,000 on TV advertising - you really shouldn’t mind paying an extra five pence for a click on a PPC advert! Basically the cost per click on your own brand terms should generally be extremely low, so any kind of incremental gain from this would be very much worth it.

Other companies pretending to be you

This is quite a rare occurrence, but I have seen it happen a few times. If your brand is not a registered trademark then there is (theoretically) nothing to stop other people actually putting your company name in their advert.

Prospective searchers may just read the title and click the advert unknowingly. If your company name is a registered trademark then you should be sure to register it with Google.

In the following example we can see that the second result mentions FortiGuard – but they are actually a completely different company and not a reseller.

Brand Bidding Example 2

How good is the URL? 

If the URL of your website is not very clear then you should consider bidding on brand terms to ensure that you can gain all relevant traffic.

You need to make it as obvious as possible for people so they know that they are clicking on the correct link. For example, if you look at Charles Tyrwhitt you will see that their URL is www.ctshirts.co.uk.

The brand needs to ensure that people searching for Charles Tyrwhitt will end up in the right place and this can be much more easily achieved with a well-focused PPC message than the natural search result (especially if including messaging such as ‘Official Site’) in the ad.

This situation is more likely to happen if you sell multiple products which are all created by your own company (and therefore hosted on the same domain). As an example, if you search for the screen recording software ‘Hypersnap’, this is the natural search result you’ll see:

Brand Bidding Example 3

This is the official site that sells this product – it really doesn’t work well to engage the user and let them know that this is where they want to be. They may well not be aware that the product is made by Hyperonics. It’s hard to even know that this is the official site.

For this reason, I feel a PPC ad would work a lot better. Something like:

Brand Names in PPC Ads Example

This makes it much more obvious that this is the official site, gives you a short introduction as to what the product does and has a call to action to engage the user.

Quick change

PPC adverts are much more powerful when it comes to quickly changing the messaging associated with your brand.

For example, if you have a sale on - you can instantly change a PPC ad to promote the discounts. This can also be useful for new product launches and other marketing or brand related changes.

Changes to a natural search title tag could take several days or even weeks to update (depending on the authority of your site.)

Testing different messages

It’s also much easier to test different messaging in a PPC ad text. Rotating the ad text and using multiple variations of an advert will allow you to understand how users respond to different messages.

This messaging can then be rolled out to natural listings as well as offline media such as flyers and newspaper adverts.

SERP real estate

Sometimes a justified reason to advertise can simply be to take up as much room as possible on the search engine results page. This will have a large benefit in establishing yourself as an authority in your sector.

However, it will also work well to push your competitors off the page or push a natural result as low as possible – ideally ‘below the fold’. 

For example, a search for ‘Safestyle windows’ will bring up a negative 1-star review in the natural search results. However, with a clever use of advertising and additional sitelinks, they have managed to push this result down the page so that a lot of users will click through to the Safestyle website before actually noticing the negative review.

Bidding on Brand & Review Sites

In conclusion, there are a lot of potential good reasons to be bidding on your brand terms.

In most cases I would suggest that it is correct to use some PPC budget bidding on brand terms (you shouldn’t have to allocate too much because of the low cost of brand clicks). It’s always important however to consider the reasoning behind your decision and keep a careful eye on ROI too. 

Pete Whitmarsh

Published 17 October, 2012 by Pete Whitmarsh

Pete Whitmarsh is Head of PPC at Search Laboratory and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

10 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Goerge Mathew

Bidding on brand term is quite good and actually relevant also but it all depends upon in which niche you are going to bid. It must important for selecting any keyword for bidding about that keyword competition. Even sometime i also bid on my brand keyword.

about 4 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

I think you should, because if you don't someone else might! Also it's often relatively cheap and your quality will always be strong.

I often create a specific campaign just for brand terms, just in case we need to save budget and decide that we can live without the brand bidding. It often depends on the website itself, one decision will never fit every website.

about 4 years ago


Tony Edey, .

I've also seen (both anecdotally and in practice) that having one entry in organic results and another paid-for link on the same page has a benefit that is greater than the sum of its parts. People see you twice on a page and therefore give extra credence to your entries. This is most effective if you can get the top spot on organic search and then bid for position 4/5 which is not only cheaper than going for the #1 paid search spot but puts the paid ad right next to the organic result which is hugely impactful.

about 4 years ago


Ashwin Naiksatam

Their is another side of the coin too. Competitors bidding on your brand at times spirals the avg. cpcs having a negative impact on ROI. This can result on stopping to bid on your own brand to save costs.

Again, its a calculative decision and can vary from brand to brand.

about 4 years ago

Hans Cayley

Hans Cayley, Web Development Team Leader at Westfield Health

certainly makes your blended cost per conversion figures look better!

I think it's worth doing if the costs are only a small percentage of your overall budget.

about 4 years ago


Brenton Colton

Always bid on your brand name. Keeps competitors from stealing your leads, produces a good ROI, keeps your account running if you pause any non-branded campaigns, and you can continue to gain traffic to your site and use the remarketing lists. Works great for our clients and we will continue to do it.

about 4 years ago

harvey bennett

harvey bennett, Co founder at RBBI Performance

Bidding on brand terms in emerging markets is critical. In a recent white paper by Google I learnt that 94% of queries in UAE are in fact brand queries. The generic space is limited to only 3% of queries. This is a trend across MENA and apparently common in emerging markets.

The result is a deeper auction in what should be a less competitive set of keywords because the volume doesn't exist elsewhere.

Really interesting to watch it develop.

about 4 years ago

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