Google ads are a mystery to most eCommerce entrepreneurs and one of the first things agencies will often do is to create branded campaigns where you bid on your own brand name… but if you're already showing up organically, why should you pay for that traffic? Let's chat about it.
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If you were to go hire an agency to run Google Ads for you right now, one of the first things they will likely do is create branded search campaigns. What does that mean?
When you create Google Ads, you pick search keywords that you want to trigger your ads for. So, a user searches for the keywords you bid on and your ad shows up. So in the case of branded search, that just means you’re bidding on your own brand name.
It would be like me running a Google ad for the term eCommerce Badassery.
So is this a good or a bad thing? Well, it depends.
See, if you were to go to Google right now and search eCommerce Badassery, my website is already the first organic result, followed by my apple podcast feed.
What happens when you search your brand name? If you haven’t searched your brand lately, go to google and type it in. What shows up? 99% of the time, your website is already going to be in the top spot.
In that case, I don’t recommend you spend money to bid on your own brand name. Essentially, you’re just going to take the sales attribution from organic to paid. And you’re going to pay for traffic that you would otherwise get for free.
So why do they do this? My cynical self says…so they can show results. Maybe it’s more strategic than that. But in my experience… not so much. If you are working with someone on Google Ads right now and they are running branded search, ask them why. Make them explain it to you in plain english and ask them to justify why you should spend money on traffic that you should otherwise get for free. Maybe you can even run a test comparing the results of your branded paid and organic traffic. Is one converting better than another? Are you getting better click throughs on that paid traffic? Is there something, anything that justifies continuing to pay for this traffic? Put them through their paces and make them do the work.
So if you’re not bidding on branded keywords, what should you do instead.
You’ll want to focus on non-branded keywords that describe the product you sell. Search terms that your perfect customer would use to find a product like yours. So for instance, maybe I would bid on keywords like eCommerce consultant, eCommerce podcast, or more long-tail keywords like email marketing for eCommerce.
For you it might be terms like, non-toxic candles, vegan leather accessories, or letter necklaces. These are all pretty generic terms and you should get more specific to pull more qualified traffic, but you get the idea right?
So does it ever make sense to bid on your brand name? In come cases, sure. For instance, maybe you have a really strong wholesale presence and those retailers are dominating the organic search results for your products but you’d rather the organic traffic come to your site. Or maybe you’re really popular and other people are bidding on your brand name. It might be a retailer that carries your product, an affiliate or even a competitor.
In the case of the retailer, affiliates, influencers, etc. You should have a clause in your agreement with them that prevents them from bidding on your brand name. Make sure you enforce it too.
Or maybe you have somewhat of a generic brand name, like brand name candles and you find that shopping results for other candles come up before your website. You might want to consider bidding on your brand name then so you can get more visibility.
Another reason you might want to bid on your brand name is if you want more control over the content that shows up in your listing. When it comes to your organic results, you can suggest what you want Google to show with your meta titles and descriptions, but ultimately, Google is going to pull whatever it thinks is most valuable to the searcher… With search ads on the other hand it will display exactly what you write in your ads. It also gives you the ability to add site links. These can be specific links you want to feature, or even the location of your brick and mortar store if they’re within the right radius.
So what’s the moral of this story? In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to bid on your own brand name but there may be some particular use cases that warrant it. Before making any final decisions, perform some test searches of your own to see what if anything you might be up against and make your decision from there.