This one has been coming up a lot lately. Should you run pay-per-click ads for Google search? To clarify, branded search would be bidding on your company name or direct product in Google Search (or Bing in some rare cases). This would be like bidding on “McDonalds” or “Big Mac” – both branded terms that are clearly a user looking directly for you. These are also terms that your site likely already ranks for with little to no effort. Is it ever worth bidding on these terms?
We have a client that we currently just removed branded search for, and it is likely going to save them at least $1,000 per month. They didn’t even realize they were doing it until we started working with them.
We have another client that spends thousands every month on branded search, and we’re looking to expand on that.
Generally speaking, we don’t recommend spending too much money on branded search. Generally, the people that are looking for you by name are going to find you, and it’s going to be at the top of the search results. There are very few instances where you’re going to lose traffic by not having your ad at the top of the search results. However, there are a handful of cases where it is good to bid on your own name. Generally, this works on a case-by-case basis, but here are the most common situations we see that warrant branded search.
Merging Companies, Acquisitions, and New Names
One of my family members had appointments about once per year with a doctor at a specific practice. All of the sudden when it was time to make an appointment, the practice couldn’t be found. They almost went somewhere else until we really dug and found out what happened. The practice was acquired and the name changed. It became almost impossible to find the practice by the former name. This can significantly isolate existing patients. Don’t do that to your business.
We currently work with a healthcare client that has merged with/acquired multiple other practices. We are currently running ads for each of those old brand names that direct people to the client’s current practice. These ads all clearly indicate “Practice X is now a part of Practice Y” and direct people to the right page on the existing website. This makes it very easy for the user to find the right place, and makes what has transpired abundantly clear.
If you’re changing your name, merging, acquiring another company, or anything else that’s causing people searching for you by name to not find you, immediately put together branded PPC.
Competitors Are Bidding on Your Brand
You can file this one under the “necessary evil” heading. If you have trademarked names for your brand/product, you can legally stop competitors from using those names in their ads on Google Ads. However, you can’t stop them from targeting your keywords (though we have had a client call a “truce” with a competitor). The good news is that it’s going to be more expensive for a competitor to target your branded keywords than it will be for you because of quality score (you can see more on quality score on the 5th bullet here).
So, you can bid on your own keyword without too much cost (in most cases) to make sure that your ad is above your competitor’s ad trying to steal your customers. Then the competitor ad will be below, with your (likely) organic listing below that. If you don’t do this, you risk having your competitor be the first thing your customers see – like a competitors billboard in the parking lot for your building.
There are a lot of techniques that can help you be much more effective in blocking competitor ads with your own, and we’ve run campaigns with multi-million dollar budgets on this concept alone. Being optimally effective does take a little work, but it can pay off in a proactive way.
Specific Messaging that You Want to Convey
One of the nice things about Google Ads is you can choose the exact text that you want to display to searchers. While the text in organic listings is typically controlled by the title tag and meta description, Google will often show alternate text from your website if they feel it’s a better match. Google Ads will show just as you want it.
As an example, maybe it’s important for customers to know new restrictions in light of a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. You can have an and that says “Company X Is Open” or “Our Practice Is Utilizing Telemedicine.” These are both things that would be very helpful for people to know, may cause them to click when they otherwise may not have, and may even increase conversions because of specific messaging that primed the customer. This is a case where the ad cost could be significantly outweighed by the increased opportunity for conversion/sale/appointment.
Brand New Site that Doesn’t Show Up Yet
We’ll keep this brief. If your site is brand new and not showing up yet in Google search, you may want to temporarily put up some ads so people can find you when they’re looking for you. It shouldn’t be hard to get your site to rank for your brand name (and we’ll cover that more below), so this should be very temporary. But, it’s a situation where you may want to put up some ads.
You Have a Product that’s Difficult to Rank
Sometimes, it’s just hard to show up in Google search. For example, let’s say that you have a product that you want to promote and have a page dedicated to it on your website. However, there are three other entire companies with the same name as your product (this is an actual scenario). Google is going to try to show what is most relevant to searchers. It is very possible that when people search for “NAME” they are looking for that company as opposed to a fairly obscure (by comparison) product. The amount of work it may take to get the product name ranking, if not functionally impossible, may be beyond what you are capable of at the time. Paying for that name in a branded search may help increase visibility for the product for individuals who are looking. It’s not an ideal situation, but branded PPC may help.
Is Branded PPC Right for You?
Of course, the answer is “it depends.” This is something that you really need to evaluate on a case by case basis depending on your business, competition, and a host of other factors. In most situations, no it’s probably not necessary. But, if you’d like some help evaluating, please let us know!