Pay-per-click Ads: Crucial to Bid on Your Brand
Over the years, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about pay-per-click advertising. One of the most common from new advertisers is, “Why should I bid on my brand name? I already show up first in Google for my brand, so I don’t think I should have to pay for traffic.”
On the surface, this is a reasonable question. No one likes paying for something they can get for free. But PPC isn’t that simple. Bidding on your brand name in PPC is imperative for a number of reasons.
Dominate the Search Engine Results Page
The top of the search engine results page is prime real estate. Most of the clicks happen in this space. By having a presence in both PPC and organic results, your business can push other listings down the page, increasing the chances that the clicks will go to your site and not elsewhere.
Take a look at this SERP for Amazon.
Of all the listings above the fold, all but one is for Amazon. Amazon is a hugely sophisticated marketing organization. If bidding on its own brand wasn’t working, it wouldn’t do it.
Lock Out the Competition
If you don’t bid on your own brand, I can nearly guarantee that your competitors will. “Conquesting” is a common tactic in PPC. Savvy advertisers use techniques like rock-bottom pricing and huge discounts in their PPC ad copy to lure potential customers away from their competition.
Don’t let this happen to you. While you can’t prevent competitors from bidding on your brand, you can combat their efforts by making sure you are present on the page.
Cost Is Nominal
The cost per click on your brand terms is much lower than on non-brand terms. This is because companies almost always get a high quality score — see this explanation from Google — on their own brands. After all, no one is more relevant for those searches than you.
The clients I manage see CPCs for brand terms that are 80 percent lower than CPCs for non-branded terms. Why not take advantage of this low-cost, highly-qualified traffic?
Traffic Converts at a High Rate
When someone searches for your brand, they know they’re looking for you. Chances are they’re past the early research stage and are not only ready to buy, they’re ready to buy from you. Make it easy for them by bidding on your brand terms.
Branded PPC keywords convert at a much higher rate than non-branded terms. When you combine high conversion rates with lower CPCs, you get a high volume of conversions at a very low cost. There is no reason not to capture these inexpensive conversions by bidding on your brand terms.
Brand Bidding Boosts your Quality Score
Quality score is the search engines’ measure of relevance. I addressed it here previously, in “PPC Basics, Part 7. Quality Score.” The higher the quality score, the more relevant are your keywords and ad copy. If you’ve earned a high quality score, you’ll pay less per click than competitors with a lower quality score, even if you rank higher than they do.
Branded terms almost always earn a very high quality score, usually 10 out of 10. Not only does this result in low CPCs, it helps to boost your average account quality score. In fact, some PPC advertisers I know launch a brand-only campaign for new products, for the sole purpose of earning a high account quality score. After a few weeks, they begin launching non-branded keywords.
While I’m not advocating that approach, earning a high quality score early on is important and bidding on your brand is a good way to accomplish this goal.
Control your Message with PPC
In PPC, you have total control over ad copy. You decide what you want to say in your ads. Not only that, but you can test different messages to determine what converts the best.
Organic listings, on the other hand, offer little control. You can optimize your title tag and meta description, but you’re still at the mercy of the search engines. The search engines, not you, decide what snippets to show.
In PPC, not only do you control your ad copy, but also your sitelink copy. Smart advertisers use sitelinks to extend their ad copy and link to deep pages of their website. Organic listings may also include sitelinks — see the Amazon example above — but again, the search engines decide what goes in the organic sitelinks.
There is no guarantee that sitelinks will display for either organic or paid listings, but why let Google or Bing choose your copy? Use PPC and choose it for yourself.
Boost your Traffic by 89 Percent
Eighty-nine percent sounds like a lofty claim. Yet, it’s backed up by data.
In 2011, Google conducted a study on how the number of organic clicks changes when PPC ads are present. The study found that 89 percent of clicks on paid ads were incremental. In other words, traffic from PPC was not replaced by organic traffic when search ads were paused.
Think about that. Traffic from PPC isn’t replaced by organic traffic, so when you don’t bid on your brand, you’re sacrificing a large number of visitors. And as mentioned earlier, your competitors are probably stealing them instead.
You might be thinking, “That study was done by Google, so it’s probably biased.” That’s a fair thought. However, I’ve experienced this with clients time and again when they pause PPC for whatever reason. Traffic and conversions from organic traffic, and from all traffic sources for that matter, do not replace PPC. Instead, these clients universally saw sales decline when PPC was paused.
In short, bidding on your brand is not only a good idea, it’s an absolute must in my view. Brand bidding is an inexpensive way to generate conversions for your brand.