John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and this is “Digital Marketing Madness.” This podcast is brought to you by McDougall Interactive. We’re a digital marketing agency in Massachusetts. Today my guest is Bob Rustici, the Director of Paid Search and we’ll be discussing Google AdWords bidding on your brand keywords as part of our series on PPC bidding strategies. Welcome Bob.
Bob Rustici: How you’re doing, John?
Why Bid On Your Brand Name?
John: Good. Bob, I guess the obvious question is, “Why spend money on bidding on your own brand when you most likely get it for free from SEO?”, because if you’re doing even just the most minimum amount of SEO, you should at least be coming up for your brand name when somebody searches for your company name.
You get free clicks when somebody clicks on one of those organic results. Why do paid ads and potentially take some of those free clicks away and have people get charged for those when somebody clicks on one of the ads.
Bob: That’s a very typical question, and the main reason why some people don’t do that brand bidding is that they just feel like, “I get it free, so it makes no sense.” You do hear that resistance quite a bit, but what they’re not doing is understanding a little bit beyond that.
I’m a big advocate of brand bidding, so I have a bias in that direction anyways. The most important part is that with PPC you naturally get a position one, no matter what, so you’re going to be always on the top. Your brand is very visible, it’s up there.
You get a lot of great extensions through PPC ads, where phone numbers, sitelinks, callouts, reviews, all that kind of stuff you can control and actually expand out the listing, so you’re going to steal a little more real estate up there, in the beginning.
There have also been a lot of studies that have been done that it doesn’t actually affect the clicks. It actually improves the clicks to the organic listings, as opposed to reducing them.
John: Interesting, so is that the idea there, that if people see your brand showing up twice, that they see it in the ad and they see it in the organic listing, people kind of associate that a little bit with like, “Oh, you must be a big player,” because it’s twice. Obviously though, they’re doing a branded search, so they’re already searching for you, but even then, it’s more likely that they’re going to click on one of those.
Bob: I personally think it prevents them from drifting off to some of your competitors.
John: Right, there is that potential.
Bob: It kind of locks that in there, so you keep them doing that. There have actually been a lot of studies done around in this area on that.
The other thing that’s an interesting side benefit, if you’re thinking about it, is that if you’re doing SEO, it’s one way to find out if you’re actually having SEO success, because you can take your brand terms, if you have integrated your AdWords and Analytics accounts, and you can actually come up with a workaround for the “Not Provided.”
You’re not going to know what terms are, but you’re going to know these are non‑brand terms, and so if you start seeing a lift in your organic SEO efforts, minus your brand terms, then you can actually say, “Yeah, we’re having success there.”
John: Just to explain that a little bit, if people don’t know. When you’re in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is no longer showing you most of the keywords that people are searching for.
It used to be that you’d see every little keyword that somebody searched for organically, but now, most of those are not showing up. All you get is just this generic, “Not Provided” keyword. Most of your organic searches are coming from “Not Provided”, so you don’t really know what searches people are actually doing.
But what you’re saying is if you have an AdWords campaign where you’re bidding on your brand terms, you can, in AdWords, see how many people are searching for your branded keywords, and then you can sort of take that, subtract it out of your overall number of branded keyword visits, and get a better sense of how many visits you get from non‑branded keywords because of that.
Bob: That’s about only place you’ll get that insight, to sort of get around what’s not provided or what is provided in terms of organic. That actually could have a lot of value for some organizations that are going very aggressively doing SEO.
Best Practices for Bidding on Brand Keywords
John: What are some of the best practices in terms of bidding on your brand name?
Bob: The first thing that’s kind of good about brand bidding is that you don’t have to manage it too much.
John: You’re not doing a lot of adding and subtracting keywords like you do with the other ones.
Bob: You don’t have to actively go in there too crazy, but there are some things you should be aware of. One is that, I think Google, if it’s your brand terms, they want to make sure you set a very high budget for that.
They do look for higher cost per click bid on there, on the brand terms, because then they can give you the full extensions. Extensions don’t come out as a guarantee, they come out as a sort of a privilege, that if you’re willing to pay a little more, you get those extensions.
John: What are the extensions?
Bob: That would be like sitelink extensions, callout extensions, even your phone extension, your reviews extensions, location.
John: That extra information that Google can add on to the ad.
Bob: Yeah, so, bid a little higher on your CPCs, just to make sure you get all those. Set a daily budget that’s probably two or three times higher than what you would anticipate.
Basically what you’re trying to tell Google is, “I don’t care what I spend on brand, just make sure they’re always showing,” because in a lot of ways that’s a better thing. What I’ve seen over time is that the actual cost goes down once you’ve established that.
John: OK. What else in terms of best practices?
Adwords Quality Score
Bob: You should have a high Quality Score, so that you should pay a little attention to that over time. If your Quality Score is really poor, then maybe you’re actually not bidding properly on the right terms.
John: Do you have to pay attention to what landing page you’re sending people to? Or is it pretty much the home page?
Bob: The home page, but there’s some other things you can do. You can start creating ad groups for different product types or offerings. There can be cases where people associate a product or a service with your brand. Then of course, yeah, you should land them not just to the home page, land them into the interior there.
John: If somebody is searching for your brand name plus a product name in the same search query, then you want to send them to that product page.
Bob: You may actually have a couple of different ad groupings. One of them that is just the main website, one that’s some of the key products that you’re known for.
If you’re creating a new product, and you’re trying to see if you’re getting any traction, that’s another opportunity to put the name and the brand in there as a separate ad group, and actually watch the impression count, and say, “OK, are we getting any traction in there? Is there PR occurring that’s making people be aware of it?”
You don’t have to manage your brand ads. You should really think about how they can help you further in your business insights.
John: OK. Anything else for recommendations?
Bob: Actually the one thing that’s always kind of nice to do, because everybody’s worried about brand reputation, you can set up an ad for coupons or reviews. Again, if you’re an e‑commerce site, a lot of people are going to search for a coupon for your business. They’ll end up going to another website. Maybe this is an opportunity to stop them.
John: Like who does coupon sites, or something like that.
Bob: One of the coupon sites. You don’t always want that to happen. You actually want to keep them in with your little ecosystem, so create a separate page that has coupons for new‑time users, first‑time users, and that kind of stuff, seasonal coupons, and it’s within your website.
Or reviews, if you’re a service, and they want to know how good you are, instead of going to someone’s else’s review site, go to yours, where you say, “OK, here we have customer testimonials and reviews” and all kind of stuff like that, that you can actually, again, keep them within your ecosystem.
Pros and Cons to Brand Keyword Bidding
John: OK. What are some of the pros and cons to brand bidding?
Bob: The first con, that everyone says is that I’m going to spend extra money now for my own brand.
John: “This is just going to cost me more.”
Bob: It’s just going to cost you more. Depending on how established your brand is, you could actually end up having to pay a lot of money.
John: It could be fairly significant, if you’re Coca‑Cola or something, you might go, “Whoa.”
Bob: You may have quite a bit of money being spent on the brands, but building that kind of a brand reputation is not always a bad thing for a business. It’s a good thing.
John: Right, that’s a good problem to have.
Bob: It’s a good problem to have.
John: If so many people search on your brand name that it’s costing you a lot of money, you’re probably in a pretty good shape.
Bob: That’s always the first thing that people kind of have to get over that sort of knothole of, “I’m spending money for my own brand ads.” What I look at as one of the cons that’s the counterpoint to that is it does offer you an opportunity to see some unique insights, because now I can actually do a couple of different A/B tests on my ads, and see, “OK, does this message from my brand associate or not?”
Also looking at the search impressions, how many times people search on the brand name can give you an indication of whether you’re building a brand. If you see more search impressions going up and up and up, then people are obviously looking for you more often online, and you’re having some success in your marketing.
John: Right, and again, if you can’t get that information now from Google Analytics, the Google AdWords campaign that you’re running is really the only place where you can see that.
Bob: Because Webmaster Tool gives you some search impression data, but it’s not terribly accurate, where Google AdWords is much more accurate in that area.
Bob: You can really use that search impressions as an indication of how much you’re building a brand, so that’s a terribly good insight.
John: And that could be whether you’re building that brand online, or whether you’re doing PR. I think we’ve had clients where we’ve sent out a press release, or we’ve gotten an article on another website with a good link, or something like that, and all of the sudden we see those brand search impressions going up in the AdWords campaign, and we go, “Oh, there you go, that was because of that article that got posted.”
Bob: Those spikes can sometimes be really good for your own job too, because you can say, “Hey, look at this, I went out and did this little PR,” or, “I did a blog posting with this…”
John: And got an immediate spike to the…
Bob: Got an immediate spike, and it was because of that. There’s a direct correlation to that. It’s often a great little job booster for yourself to sort of say, “Hey, there’s that.”
There are a lot of different reasons, I think, you should do brands, and probably my question is, “Why would you not want to do the brands?” is really the key thing.
John: OK, great. Thanks very much for all that information, Bob. We’ll talk to you next time.
For more information about digital marketing visit mcdougallinteractive.com and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes. Thanks for listening, make sure you tune in next time for the next in our series on PPC bidding strategies with Bob Rustici.
We’ll see you next time on Digital Marketing Madness