Brand, Search, Digital

Why you should always include brand search in your digital strategy

by Katherine Jianas, 04 May 2017

Brand Search is the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to the coveted conversion funnel. If someone is actively searching for your products or services by your brand name, he/she is familiar with your brand and, therefore, may be extremely likely to convert.

But if a consumer is already familiar with my brand, won’t they just know to go straight to my website?

The short answer is no. Search is engrained in us and while Search has evolved significantly over the last ten years, it has always and will always remain a regular part of consumers’ daily habits.

So, when it comes to your digital strategy as a whole, there are a number of reasons why Brand Search is a no brainer.

1. Impact from other marketing channels

If your brand is running other digital media channels, such as Display, Video and Social, or even offline tactics such as TV or Radio, the impact on Search could (and likely will) result in more branded queries. Make sure your brand is front and center for the interested consumer when they search for you by name. If you start to run a new DRTV campaign, for instance, and Branded Searches start to increase around the same time, you can assume that the new TV campaign is having a positive effect on Brand terms. Usually DRTV affects search in a pretty predictable way.

The more real estate, i.e. the more times a consumer sees you in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the more likely he/she is to convert. It’s best to have as many listings as possible which includes running a Paid, Organic and Shopping (if applicable) listing. The bigger the better!

2. Offer testing

SEM is a fantastic testing lab. How scientific! It is a marketing channel where we are able to quickly implement ad copy and landing page changes.

Brand campaigns are a great place to run tests because they likely have high volume, making it faster to reach statistical significance and roll out winning tests.

When it comes to Search, why should I pay for clicks on my brand ads when my Organic listing is in the first organic position?

There are a number of reasons:

1. Keep competitors out

If you aren’t showing in the top position for brand searches, chances are a competitor is. And since Paid listings appear above Organic listings, a competitor’s ad would be seen before your brand’s Organic listing. No, thank you!

This is especially important on mobile, where fewer positions are available. And Organic listings on mobile already appear below the fold.

2. Easily change out messaging

Within a paid ad, you have the ability to customize your message on the fly. For example, if you had a one-day sale starting tomorrow, you could easily incorporate this messaging into your Paid Search ad copy. This provides a striking advantage over Organic where you’re dealing with meta descriptions; chances are you likely aren’t changing these out on a regular basis.

3. Full and rich user experience (Paid Search, Organic, Shopping)

Paid and Organic Search (and Shopping when applicable) all work together in having a larger impact on the buyer. Think of the SERP as a digital storefront. Having as many listings as possible increases a searcher’s trust, resulting in more traffic, more conversions, a higher conversion rate and a higher ROI. Yes, please!

4. Searchers switch between Brand and Non Brand searches

According to a Google study, 48% of purchasers switch between Brand and Non Brand terms at some point during their path to conversion. (Source: Beyond last click: Understanding your consumers’ online path to purchase, Google, Inc)

Oftentimes, a searcher in the early stages of the purchase funnel may be using general research terms—“best running shoes”, for example. Later on, after researching multiple brands, the searcher may come back on a shoe brand or model they remember liking. If an ad for your branded search does not appear, you could lose out on a sale.

Furthermore, Non Brand searches create demand for and fuel brand searches. A BKV retail client found that 13% of conversions start with non brand but finish with brand. And, typically, we see Brand terms convert anywhere from 25% - 1,000%+ higher than generic terms.

But won’t I get the same number of clicks by running just an Organic listing since a searcher will click one or the other, not both?

According to a 2016 Bing study of top Brand queries in the retail vertical, Brand bidding yielded a 64% lift in incremental Paid and Organic clicks. In addition, this study found that 48% of clicks will go to competitors when no brand ad is present. (Source: Microsoft Internal Data, June 2016, US only, All Devices) Similarly, a Google study found that 89% of clicks are incremental to organic clicks. (Source: Google Internal Data, 2012)

In another study (Source: Book “the art of SEO” 2012, Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola and Rand Fishkin), integrating Organic Search and Paid Search resulted in:

  • 45% increase in actions
  • 45% increase in orders
  • 44% increase in page views
  • 41% increase in visitors
  • 39% increase in time on site

At, we tested the theory that Paid and Organic Search work in tandem and that solely running on Organic would not make up for the incremental revenue Brand Paid Search drives in. This test was conducted for a sizable retail account and it consisted of turning Brand Search off to see what the affect would be on Organic sales. In the first month of the test, we saw a 70% increase in Organic revenue; and in the following month, Organic saw a 129% increase in revenue. However, combined with the drastic decrease in Brand Search revenue, we saw a 23% drop in overall revenue. Needless to say, the following month Brand Search was back on and we were aggressively bidding towards position 1 in order to try to make up for some of the lost revenue.

But costs are rising. Why am I paying so much for my own brand?

Yes, while CPCs are up year over year as engines have raised minimum CPC amounts, there are ways we can combat this, including:

1. Relevancy

Ensuring your ad copy and landing page are as relevant as possible to your brand terms will result   in a higher Quality Score, which can help lower your CPCs.

2. Ad Extensions

Run as many extensions as possible. Extensions are proven to increase CTR and an increased CTR could have benefits to your Quality Score, also lowering your CPC.

3. Test gradually lowering your bid up until you start seeing a drop in impression share.

To sum things up: Organic search does NOT make up for the lack of Paid; the two work best together! And as you can see, there are a plethora of reasons as to why you should include Brand Search in your Digital Media strategy. Like what you see? Want to run your own test? Then reach out!