Why Your Brand Term Shouldn’t Be Your Paid Search Strategy

We like to consider paid search efforts to be the “sprint” of marketing efforts in comparison with other digital marketing avenues (SEO would be considered a “marathon”). A paid search account and campaigns can be set up for most businesses fairly quickly and basically guarantees that the business website can appear in the search results as a paid ad for the products/services that the business offers. That is, if there’s a solid paid search strategy in place when the account is set up and created.

Do you know what your contracted marketing agency’s paid search strategy is for your PPC account and business? When reviewing your reporting metrics it might seem like your paid search strategy is super successful by generating a lot of traffic to your website. But which campaigns are the leading drivers of this performance? Which keywords are triggering the majority of your ads impressions, clicks and your conversions? Often times when we’re auditing a new account, we find that the previous agency was heavily leaning on a businesses brand name as their paid search strategy. Which we’d argue, isn’t really much of a strategy at all… keep reading to find out why. 

Search Intent 

Users searching for your brand name already have a clear intent to find you online, where you should be found at the top of the search results page, organically for “free.” Often times when a user searches directly for your brand they already have a conversion action in mind as well, such as wanting to call the business, get directions to the business location, etc. (Makes sense, consider your own search behavior when you type a business’s name directly into a search engine.)

By relying on a business’s brand term as the leading driver of paid search impressions, clicks and conversions you receive, you devalue the business’s organic (SEO) efforts and falsely elevate the performance of the paid search efforts.

Clicks are Expensive 

Since paid search is a “pay to play” space, we believe the best use of PPC dollars is to spend them on clicks where a user is searching for the products and services that you have to offer, but doesn’t necessarily know about your brand already. This way your paid search budget is being spent wisely on clicks from new prospects and you aren’t wasting your entire budget on searches/clicks from users who already know about you.

Of course, there are certain instances where bidding on your brand term is a valuable strategy, like if you realize a competitor is bidding on your brand name. But in these cases, it’s very important to make sure that these efforts are contained so you don’t impede your other digital marketing efforts and paid search campaigns.

Cannibalization of Organic Efforts

When a paid search strategy relies purely on a business’s brand term, the paid search efforts will take away from the organic search efforts. As we get deeper and deeper into the digital era, we’ve seen user attention span and attention to detail slowly diminish – which means a searcher will be most likely to click on the first result, which if your PPC strategy is your brand name, that likely means your paid search ad. Additionally, many consumers use search engines as a replacement for the browser address bar. A common behavior is to type the website address into the Google search box and click on the first result. Anyone who is doing this was going to get to your website anyway.

Conversion Cannibalization

At first glance it may appear that your paid search efforts are a leading driver of conversions… but stop to consider how many of those conversions happened as a result of a search for your brand name? How much did you spend on clicks from users who already knew what you were offering? How many potential prospects searching for the products and services that you have to offer did you miss because your ad didn’t display because you spent your entire daily budget on your brand name? 

If any of the above points now have you second guessing your current paid search account performance, or if you simply feel your current PPC strategy could be improved upon, contact us to see how we could help! 

ONeil Interactive has successfully restructured and managed many home builder paid search accounts. By working within an account’s existing budget and restructuring, we’ve been able to dramatically reduce our client’s average cost per click, double (and even sometimes triple) the amount of users to our clients websites coming from paid search efforts and increased the amount of valuable new qualified leads our clients received from PPC.  All of this by working within their existing budgets and making smarter strategy decisions. 

For example, we recently restructured a builder’s paid search account and 30 days after the restructure (compared to the previous period) we had reduced their average CPC by 50%, increased the amount of users coming to their site from PPC efforts by 85%, new users increased by 95% and overall site sessions were up by 75%. Additionally we reduced their cost per conversion by 20%. These positive trends all came from working within the builder’s existing paid search budget and promoting the same amount of new home communities.

Working exclusively with new home builders has given us a competitive advantage when it comes to real estate paid search best practices. By working with us you get the peace of mind of knowing that your agency understands the new home market on a national level, how users typically search for new homes, the best new home keywords, ad copy and landing pages to ensure optimal account performance and user experience. Which for you, translates into an increase in quality leads and hopefully more new home sales.


Glossary of Terms

  • Brand term – A brand keyword (aka branded keyword or brand term) is the keyword used to search for a company name. A recognizable example is “Home Depot.” Note that brand keywords can include obvious typos, such as “homedepo.”
  • Impressions – How often your ad is shown. An impression is counted each time your ad is shown on a search result page or other site on the Google Network.
  • Clicks – When someone clicks your ad, like on the blue headline of a text ad, Google Ads counts that as a click.
  • Conversions – An action that’s counted when someone interacts with your ad (for example, clicks a text ad or clicks a display ad) and then takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business (typically the goals you have set up in Google Analytics), such as an online form submission or a call to your business from a mobile phone.
  • Keywords – Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.
  • Average cost-per-click – The average amount that you’ve been charged for a click on your ad. Average cost-per-click (avg. CPC) is calculated by dividing the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks.

Stacey Titemore

Stacey Titemore

As an artist, Stacey appreciates creating visuals that make an impact. As a marketer, Stacey appreciates creating campaigns that generate a response. These complimentary goals, and a diverse digital experience, make Stacey a valuable asset to our clients.