Where there is a certain level of brand loyalty, Internet users will oftentimes search a phrase together with their brand of preference.
Then, there are users who are still searching for the perfect match, and they will take their time to peruse simple phrases such as “best running shoes” without any brand in the phrase.
On the other hand, with recent Google algorithm changes that put big brands in front of users who search for a specific phrase, it has become expected that a search result will not only depend on the clever use of non-branded keywords, but on the ones that contain your brand name as well.
Some marketers have found this to be quite a conundrum, as it shifts the focus from non-branded to branded keywords – but to what extent?
Since there is no ideal solution that will fit all brands out there, it’s not just vital that your own company finds a way to incorporate both, but it’s essential to balance them correctly based on your specific situation.
But, before we can discuss where branded and non-branded keywords fit into your strategy, it’s important to have a clear understanding of each.
What are branded keywords?
Branded keywords are keywords that contain your company’s name. So to use my website as an example, any keyword containing “George Papatheodorou” is a branded keyword, regardless of the other words around it.
What are non-branded keywords?
Non-branded keywords are keywords that relate to your products or services, but don’t include your company’s name.
Using my own site as an example again, “SEO consultant“, “SEO expert” and “SEO services” are relevant non-branded keywords. They’re search terms used by people interested in what I offer, but they don’t directly reference my own name/brand.
Create the right buzz
When you’re a brand that has not just started its journey but you have yet to claim the throne of your industry (hopefully), it’s difficult to keep track of all the trends preferred not just by Google, but other segments of your marketing approach too.
SEO results are constantly tweaked based on the type of content you post, whether it fits with search engines’ preferences, and whether or not it contains enough information to be a legit source of information for the reader looking for some tips.
At this point in your brand development, you should definitely re-evaluate your current strategy and whether your use of branded vs. non-branded keywords is disproportionate.
Most young brands still focus on using mostly non-branded keywords, which makes perfect sense – but you do need to position your brand to meet the latest criteria and rank higher in the SERPs.
Focus on social awareness
In addition to looking for ways you can restructure your marketing approach to include more branded keywords, you should also look to your social media success to gain a deeper insight into the level of awareness your audience has of your brand.
After all, targeting the right keyword phrases aims to deliver more website visitors, and even more importantly, convert them into buyers, and social media trends are vital in this respect.
As you create new content that brings more of your brand into the spotlight, you should use social mention monitoring as a part of your listening strategy to understand the context in which your brand already appears.
Whether you’re mentioned in news articles, random blog posts, unsolicited reviews, or customer public posts, you can learn so much from existing branded content on social networks and beyond in order to implement it in your SEO approach.
Let it simmer
No matter if you’re a young brand or a well-established company with years of experience and a vast database of clients, you should always look for ways to improve your ideas, including the ones that shape your SEO & PPC strategies.
However, in all that rush to be better every time, many brands often forget to check and learn from what they’ve already implemented.
This is a valuable source of insights for every company, big and small, to hone their SEM skills for future campaigns.
To figure out how well you’re doing on both sides of the keyword spectrum, you can create two unique, separate PPC campaigns, each of which focuses on a single type of keywords.
Let them both run for a significant period of time, a few months at least, to give you valid information as to how they are each performing.
The results should be your answer as to which types of keywords deliver higher conversion rates, engagement and return on investment.
Starting from scratch
Brands that have just surfaced are basically impossible to push into the spotlight if the market is highly competitive, at least not immediately.
In such a young situation, this question becomes slightly more irrelevant, as creating a strong SEO strategy is your first go-to step, including using keyword phrases that are not branded. You simply have no reputation to attach them to, and Google knows, much like other search engines.
That is why young brands need to invest more time and energy into crafting more versatile marketing strategies that do not exclusively focus on balancing branded or non-branded language.
At this point, you need all the awareness you can get, and you can achieve much more by creating engaging social media posts, high-quality content, registering your business on business directories, and promoting your brand’s events to bring more people closer to you.
Later, as you gain more traction, using more branded language will make more sense.
Battling the big fish
When you are a small company trying to make a name for itself in a vast sea of whales and sharks whose names have already reverberated online, every structured effort is an effort worth your while.
Yes, by all means, do introduce more branded content since Google needs to understand that your competitors are not the only ones who provide the given product or service.
However, this will rarely yield immediate results, since your competitors’ lengthy reputation is difficult to beat overnight.
That is why you also need to inspire your customers to fight this battle alongside your own marketing team through impeccable social media work, stellar content and the like.
You will then utilise your presence in places where there are fewer hurdles to manage, while you’ll also let your branded keywords take effect over time.
I’m a UK based freelance SEO consultant and digital marketer and I provide results-driven online consulting and digital marketing services to SMEs. Are you ready to grow in 2019? Get in touch today!