Imagine this scenario…
You manage to get ten search marketers in a room, get them talking PPC and raise the subject of ‘brand bidding’. One would make their case and after that, I’m certain a strongly-worded debate would arise.
One question would be raised first: should you be occupying as much space in Google SERPs as possible when someone searches for your brand term, or should you rely on organic search to generate free – rather than paid – brand traffic? It’s a double-edged sword that has partisan supporters on either side, making it ever more important to consider how brand bidding is applied to each bespoke PPC strategy for a client.
To some, it may appear senseless to pay for brand traffic that you can get for free through organic rankings. For others, brand bidding is essential to integrated PPC strategies that engage users at multiple touchpoints of the consumer journey.
For us, our approach usually sits with the latter.
In my opinion, the benefits of brand bidding can certainly be fruitful. Protecting your brand and occupying as much space in Google SERPs as possible when someone searches for your brand is key, alongside the ability to control your brand messaging made easier by the introduction of expanded text ads into Google AdWords last year. And let’s be honest, the combination of SEO and PPC is always going to grow a clients’ overall search traffic and increase the potential for on-site lead gen and/or sales.
The two go hand-in-hand, no matter what some might say.
Take an example PPC ad for one of our clients, Express Bi-folding Doors. By occupying extra space when someone searches for a relevant brand term with a quality, tailored brand advert, we can dominate Google SERPs and increase the overall number of leads generated on-site, whilst at the same time enhancing the client’s brand awareness.
Soaking up traffic by targeting users who already have some level of brand recognition can always be an efficient way of generating leads, creating a missed opportunity for search marketers who don’t bid on their brand terms.
This is ever more important in the competitive marketplaces that often inhabit Google search spaces.
Of course, there are arguable drawbacks to brand bidding in PPC strategies. There’s no doubt that by bidding on branded keywords you’re paying for traffic you could be getting for free through organic search, whilst fierce bidding wars can be sparked between competitors that drive brand keyword CPCs through the roof.
If you’re a small technology business and Apple start bidding on your brand term for example, you’ve got little chance of ranking in position one. Everyone loves an underdog, but they rarely ever win when budgets come into play. This isn’t the FA Cup of PPC, everyone’s in it for the long run.
But to me, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to brand bidding. Brand keywords are great for driving CPAs down across the board and delivering a solid ROI, which is even more satisfying when 10/10 quality scores are achieved and your paid clicks become even cheaper. Plus, there are a wide variety of brand keywords that are worth applying, a combination of which will help your PPC strategy bring in the most relevant, pre-qualified traffic.
Bidding on these types of keyword can be extremely fruitful for an account and if managed correctly, can easily generate solid returns for a business.
If challenged, I’d suggest that if you’re making money and/or generating pre-qualified leads from your brand keywords, why not continue to bid on them? Yes, you may be able to generate the traffic for free via organic search, but brand keywords are likely to be fruitful for a business regardless of the price you’re paying for them.
This is emphasised by the ability to shoot straight to the top of a Google SERP, rather than working overtime to rank in position 1 organically, which in reality could be argued to be position 4 or 5.
So to me, the benefits of brand bidding – sitting very much at the centre of integrated search strategies – far overshadow the negatives that some search marketers may raise.