The Marketer’s Guide to Branded and Non-Branded Keywords

Do you know the difference between branded and non-branded keywords?

Are you applying these search terms correctly to your search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns?

In this guide to branded and non-branded search terms, you will learn how to target audiences correctly and efficiently – so you can eliminate wasted effort and marketing spend.

Let’s jump in. 

What are branded and non-branded keywords?

The simplest way to explain the difference between branded keywords and non-branded keywords is brand keywords include a brand name, and non-brand keywords do not include a brand name.

Examples of branded keywords are “Apple,” “Apple reviews,” or “iPhone pricing.”

Examples of non-branded keywords are “popular smartphones,” “laptops for sale,” or “best mobile devices.”

Why do you need to understand the difference?

The keywords people use when they perform a search reveal a lot about their search intent. For example, someone using the non-branded search term “best mobile devices” is looking for information or comparing devices. In contrast, someone using a branded search term like “buy iphone” is ready to buy an iPhone.

In order to experience success with your SEO and PPC strategies, you need to know which keywords properly target users at the top of the funnel (looking for information, reviews, etc.) or at the lower part of the funnel (ready to buy, looking for discounts, etc.) – and which ones apply to your target audience.

For example, here is a non-branded search ad for “best crm software”:

You can see the paid ad uses a non-branded keyword, so it’s tailored to the type of user who is doing research and not ready to buy yet.

Here is a branded search ad for “zoho crm”:

You can see this paid ad is crafted for someone using a branded search term, which means they are closer to conversion. The language in the ad reflects the intent (ready to try it out), and the ad extensions (Pricing, Watch CRM Demo) are also geared at users further down the funnel.

Should you use branded keywords, non-branded keywords, or both?

The decision to use brand or non-brand keywords depends on your goals.

Let’s say you want to increase brand awareness among people who don’t already know about you, using both SEO and PPC channels. You wouldn’t use branded keywords for this particular goal, because these people aren’t going to use those search terms to find you (remember, they don’t know about you yet). Instead, you would use non-branded keywords they are likely to search for, so that your ad or organic listing comes up in search results.

Using our CRM company as an example, people who do not know about Zoho could discover the brand as they’re searching for “best CRM software.” Even if users don’t click on the link, they have now heard of the brand and are more likely to recall it as they move closer to conversion – which is exactly when they might use your branded keywords.

In this case, combining non-branded and branded keywords would be a solid strategy for capturing users at every stage of the path to purchase.

Defining your goals with SEO and PPC is an important first step that can tell you whether branded, non-branded, or a combination of both types of keywords is right for you.

Learn More about the Right Keywords for Your Brand

Curious about whether branded or non-branded keywords will work best for your SEO or PPC campaigns? Get in touch with RSO Consulting for a marketing consultation.

Reach out with any questions you might have regarding how RSO can help you with your digital marketing.

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