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Research has shown that branded search terms can offer the highest conversion rates, so it is vital that you are making the most from your brand searches.

While you may already rank well in the organic search results for your brand-related terms, it can still be useful to buy your terms for paid search.

Here are six recommendations for brand term strategies:

1. Identify main types of brand-term phrases associated with your brand.

These include…

  • Main brand phrase, e.g. Amazon
  • Phrase plus product category, e.g. Amazon, Electrical
  • Main phrase plus country or region, e.g. Amazon UK
  • Misspelling of phrase,e.g. Amazno, www.amazon.co.uk

2. Identify popularity of brand terms.
The best source is to use a tool like the Google Traffic Estimator or the Yahoo! Search term suggestion tool.


3. Identify brand-term leakage.
Brand term leakage refers to those searchers that use your brand name to search, but end up at a different site.

Hitwise UK figures highlight this problem - on average 85% of visits from the top search term of the brand, e.g. Amazon sent visits to the brand-owners web site, but there were differences. For easyJet the figure was 3%, indicating brand leakage, but for British Airways, the figure was 29%.

Brand leakage is higher where product names are included since it is more likely for competitors to deliberately or accidentally use the brand term within a search.

Hitwise reported that while 89% of searches for ‘comet’ sent UK visits to www.comet.co.uk, only 65% of searches for comet electricals ended up on Comet’s websites. This is possible because competitors can advertise on a broad-match of ‘electricals’.

4. Understand and reduce brand-term misuse.
It should be possible to reduce brand-term use to some extent:

  • Contact the search network and request that bidding on the brand-term is not permitted. This may be possible for the main brand term, e.g. HSBC, but is less likely on brand plus product names, i.e. HSBC savings accounts.
  • Require through a contract arranged through the affiliate network that affiliates do not bid on any of your brand-terms.


5. Assess your bidding strategy for brand-terms.
You will often be first in the natural listings for your brand term, so why would you want to pay to be top?

  • You may receive more clicks and sales.
  • You can use different messages to promote current campaigns or explain your online value proposition.
  • You can direct visitors straight to the relevant landing page, e.g. the page for HSBC savings accounts – this can be more effective for producing conversions.
  • You can displace competitors and their affiliates. This is particularly important for brand plus product terms where your click rivals may be above you.

To minimise brand leakage, it is often best to advertise on a broad match which will cover a range of brand-terms.

6. Assess your affiliates paid search bidding strategy for brand-terms.
Often the strategy adopted is to not allow affiliates to advertise on your brand name alone, e.g. ING Direct, but to enable them to advertise on variants, e.g. ING Direct Mortgage, since this is more difficult to protect (as others may be advertising on broad match for the term ‘mortgage’).

Enabling affiliates to advertise on this can displace competitors from the top listings.

Further reading:
Paid Search Marketing (PPC) - Best Practice Guide

Graham Charlton

Published 25 June, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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