This is one of the most common questions you’ll get asked as a PPC account manager. Some clients are adamant that you shouldn’t ever do it, whereas many understand the value and the reasons behind the decisions. In the following post I will explore several different reasons why you should or shouldn’t bid on brand terms.
Natural Search Position
The first thing you should think about is where you are in the organic search results. If you are anywhere other than 1st place then you must bid on brand terms. Anything below first place on the organic results gets a relatively small proportion of clicks, even if it is exactly what the user is searching for. Be sure to test your position for a whole range of different search terms relating to your brand, including misspellings, long tail keywords and the words in a different order if your brand name is more than one word.
Is anyone else bidding on your brand terms? Are they appearing in the premium advertising positions above your organic result? Look at this result when we search for uSwitch insurance (a price comparison company for several different services such as gas, electricity, credit cards, insurance and broadband.)
We can see Go Compare (who provide exactly the same services) actually appearing above uSwitch. This could lead to them stealing a lot of uSwitch’s potential customers. If this is ever the case then you should always consider bidding on your brand terms also. It shouldn’t take long for your CTR to increase to a high enough level to get you top spot for a decent price. This brings me on to the next point…
Cost per click
If no other advertisers are bidding on your brand terms the cost per click will be extremely low. Even if there are competitors bidding on it you should find that your CTR is much higher than any of theirs. This will lead to a better quality score and therefore cheaper clicks for a better position.
Other Advertising Forms
Another thing to consider on this point is if you are spending money on other advertising sources. If you’ve already paid for the traffic once (via tv/radio/newspaper etc.) you really don’t want competitors stealing your traffic. Especially if you’ve spent £20,000 on a TV advertising you really shouldn’t mind paying an extra 5 pence for a click on a PPC advert!
Other companies pretending to be you
This is quite a rare occurrence but I have seen it happen a few times. If your brand is not a registered trademark then there is nothing to stop other people actually putting your company name in their advert. They are basically disguising themselves as your company – and people will just read the title and click the advert. If your company name is a registered trademark then you should be sure to register it with Google at this address:
In the following example we can see that the 2nd result is pretending to be FortiGuard – but they are actually a completely different company.
How good is the URL?
If the URL of your website is not very clear then you should consider bidding on the brand terms. You need to make it as obvious as possible for people to know that they are clicking on the correct link. For example, if people refer to your brand as ‘Bob’s Clothing Outlet’ but your URL is www.clothes-outlet-store.com then you need to make sure that users know they will end up in the correct place. This can be much more easily achieved with a well-focused PPC message than the natural search results.
This situation is more likely to happen if you sell multiple products which are all created by your own company (and therefore hosted on the same domain). As an example, if you search for the screen recording software ‘Hypersnap’, this is the natural search result you’ll see:
This is the official site that sells this product – it really doesn’t work well to engage the user and let them know that this is where they want to be. They may well not be aware that the product is made by Hyperonics. It’s hard to even know that this is the official site. For this reason, I feel a PPC ad would work a lot better. Something like:
This makes it much more obvious that this is the official site, gives you a short introduction as to what the product does and has a call to action to engage the user.
Is your company the only one that provides a certain service?
If so – fine. It’s unlikely that anybody else will be bidding on your brand terms for a start. Even if they are, then they’re unlikely to be as relevant as you are so you’ll probably get most of the clicks. For this reason you may be wise not to bid on brand terms.
However, if several companies provide a similar service then that could be a good reason to bid on brand terms.
For example, if you sell windows, and someone searches for your brand – there is a good chance that they’ve only typed in your brand because they’ve heard of you, but they don’t really care who they buy windows from. They will click on multiple ads so it is important for you to protect your brand in this case.
If someone is searching for your brand then of course they know you exist. What you don’t want to happen is other adverts causing a distraction away from your brand. You want them to see you and click through to your site straight away – this can be helped by having an eye-catching advert that people will know to click on.
Sometimes a justified reason to advertise can simply be to take up as much room as possible on the search engine results page and push a natural result as low as possible – ideally below the fold.
For example, a search for ‘Safestyle windows’ will bring up a very negative 1-star review in the natural search results. However, with a clever use of advertising and additional sitelinks, they have managed to push this result right down the page so that a lot of users will click through to the safestyle website before actually seeing the negative review.
In conclusion, there are a lot of potential reasons to be bidding on your brand terms. In most cases I would suggest that it is correct to use some PPC budget on brand terms (you shouldn’t have to use too much because of the cheap clicks). It’s always important to consider the reasoning behind the decision though.