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Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Should I Use My Brand Name As A Keyword?

Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Should I Use My Brand Name As A Keyword?

Dustin Brackett
October 29, 2020

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Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most effective forms of advertising in the world today and businesses from brand new startups and mom-and-pop shops all the way up to Fortune 100 businesses rely on pay-per-click to drive revenue and grow their businesses. There are several kinds of pay-per-click advertising (PPC) including search engine marketing, social media advertising, retargeting, and display advertising. They all serve their own purpose, but today I am going to be specifically talking about search PPC. 

There are many different ways that you can set up your pay-per-click campaigns and one of the most common questions that we get is, "should I run ads for my business name?" And well - the answer is definitely NOT, unless you fit into one of four buckets. But before we get there, let's cover some basics about search PPC and how it works.

What is Search Pay-Per-Click?

Search pay-per-click advertising is keyword-based advertising. It is focused on written content for ads and everything is centered around hyper-targeted keywords and negative keywords.

The way that these ads show up is when you go to Google or Bing and type in a search (a query). On most searches, the top 1-4 listings that show up are ads. It is run on a bidding system so the more competitive a keyword or search is, likely the more expensive it is for the advertiser. It is doing exactly what the title suggests - advertising where you pay for each click on your ad.

Search PPC is one of the most effective forms of advertising because there are over 3.5 billion Google searches made every single day (there were over 7 billion today!) and since we can typically discern intent from a search query, we can be very smart about how we spend our advertising budgets.

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How is Search PPC Different From Other Forms of PPC?

There are several different types of online advertising including search, display, retargeting, and social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest being the biggest players).

With social media ads, generally you are targeting based on a profile, interests, demographic, and geographic characteristics. This allows you to target groups of people that fit your ideal customers.

With display advertising and retargeting, you are targeting specific people through lists or actions that they have taken (such as a visit to a specific page on your website). You can also target people that have similar characteristics and interests as the people on your lists.

Both of these kinds of advertising campaigns focus heavily on media and aim to catch your attention because you (as a consumer) aren't necessarily looking for that company or what they do. 

With search advertising, on the other hand, people are searching for what you do. They go to Google or Bing, type in their issue, question, or need and with a search ad, you can show up on top of all the results and get a click to your website. If you offer a great experience on your website, you can likely convert that click into a lead.

In general, you can think about search advertising as intent-based advertising where you are targeting people that are showing an interest in what you do or what you sell. Social, display, and retargeting advertising can be generally considered target market advertising as you're attempting to reach the right people that aren't necessarily searching for you at this moment, but fit the profile you want to target.

Which Networks Should I Focus On?

When it comes to search advertising, there are really two players - Google and Bing. Yes, Bing is a thing. No - really.

Of course Google dominates this market with a whopping 92.26% of searches done on Google while only 2.83% of searches are done on Bing. But with the sheer volume of searches done each day, 2.83% can be very significant. 

And while you aren't seeing even close to the volume that you see on Google, Bing typically has far less competition thus far lower cost-per-click rates for your search advertising campaigns.

Clients sometimes look at us a little funny when we tell them that we want to run a campaign on Bing, but the ROI can be tremendous and in a lot of cases it's very profitable.

If you're running a Google search campaign, it likely makes sense to be running a similar campaign on Bing.

Should I Run Search PPC Campaigns For My Business Or Brand Name?

So, now that that is all out of the way, back to the original question - should you run a search campaign for your business name? Well - it depends.

With your brand, there is a fine line between PPC and SEO. In general, most businesses will naturally rank very high for their own business or brand name. You probably won't have much difficulty at least being on the first page of a search engine results page (SERP) for your business name. And if that is the case, why bother paying for a click that you likely could get for free? Well there are a few rules that we like to follow to determine if you should pay for that click or let it happen organically:

  • Is your brand name so generic that others are outranking you?
  • Is a competitor running a pay-per-click campaign with your brand name?
  • Is a major competitor outranking you organically for your own brand name?
  • Are there a lot of searches for your brand name, but you're ranking below the 3rd organic spot?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there is probably a good case for you to have a campaign running for your brand name.

It's pretty simple - you need to be found when people search for you. If you're losing clicks because of a generic name, competitor PPC campaigns, or poor rankings, it's probably worth it to spend a little bit of your budget on your brand name.

If you did not immediately answer yes to one of those questions - do not waste your money. We see it all the time where a client will be running their own PPC campaigns and they're wasting money advertising for their brand name when they're already ranking #1 organically and there are no competitors advertising for their brand name. You're just giving Google and/or Bing your money for nothing. You would have had that click anyway. Don't pay for it if you don't have to!

Like I mentioned at the start, PPC campaigns can be extremely efficient, effective, and deliver an amazing return on your investment, but they need to also be strategic and well thought out. Google and Bing already make hundreds of millions of dollars per year on advertising - don't pay them if you don't need to. In general, you probably don't need to run a campaign for your own brand name. You're probably doing well organically. It is an opportunity, however, to target your competitors' brand names. 😉


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