Should You Bid on Branded Search Terms in Adwords?

Written by - 07/01/2015

The question of whether you should bid on branded search terms in Google Adwords campaigns is one that often comes up. On the face of it, extra expense for something that seemingly delivers very little benefit sounds unnecessary. However, this is a very simplistic view that doesn’t truly consider the range of benefits that can be gained. We take you through the main pros and cons of bidding on branded search terms.


Additional SERP Real Estate

Google’s organic SERPs can be very restricting – normally just a title and a meta description. Sure, structured data has allowed for a bit of additional information to be pulled through onto results pages, but this is still very restricted and not even always used. Adwords will always give you a wider range of tools to make your position on the results page have a better potential for clicks. Whether its sitelinks extensions showing up to four additional links with descriptions, or callout extensions giving additional snippets of information, call and location extensions allowing phone numbers and addressed to be displayed, review extensions allowing star ratings to be pulled through, it all helps. Combined in top ad positions, these extensions can make ads take up huge amounts of real estate, naturally pulling in more clicks.

Keyword Insertions

Keyword insertion alone is a pretty strong argument for doing it. No matter how relevant your brand may be to a branded search, keyword insertion has always given you that extra little bit of functionality to show a perfectly direct relevance to a user’s search term, that is just not possible in organic results.

You May Rank ‘Top’, But Is It Really ‘Top’

You might have spent ages carefully building valuable links, creating unique content and spreading the word on social media channels to finally be ranking in the top organic position for all your branded search terms. But realistically it means nothing if the three ad positions directly above you are going to take away a large portion of the clicks for those search terms. Bidding on your own branded searches is really the only way you can guarantee you’re not going to lose that traffic to competitors.

Double SERP Listings Per Page

This has got to be a benefit right? Not only do you have top ad position, but you also have top organic position. Total dominance on your branded searches can only help ensure that your potential visitors are only coming to your site and not your competitors.

You May Be Bidding on Them Anyway

A lot of the time with the nature of the keywords you are likely to be bidding on, if they are set to broad match there’s a chance you could be triggering for your branded terms anyway. By ensuring that they’re in your search campaign you can ensure you maintain full control over the bidding.

They Improve Your Overall Account & Quality Scores

Although the exact mechanics have always been kept intentionally hazy, it is true that quality and relevance is measured on destination URL, keyword and account levels. Your branded search terms are always going to be by far the most relevant keywords you could ever use and subsequently help your account overall. As they are also likely to be the cheapest cost per click prices you’ll pay, it is likely that any benefit will easily offset their cost.

Choose Your Landing Page

Sometimes you will find your branded searches may all come to your homepage. Sometimes they might be coming to an older, more established page, but you’d really prefer to be using a snazzy new one. Sometimes Google just might not be using the best page for searches. Using PPC is a perfect way to choose exactly what pages users are going to be directed to depending on the search terms they are using.


People Will Already Find Your Company No Matter What

There is a very strong argument that if users are searching your company name then they will find you, no matter what, even if you are not at the very top of the results. They are looking for you company specifically so why would they go to a competitors site when it is clearly not yours?

Many Users Ignore Ads Anyway

Although Google doesn’t make much of a distinction between the paid and organic search results, people’s own awareness and the small yellow ‘Ad’ box is still often enough for users to skip over them and go directly to the organic search results. For a small percent of users, you will probably never be able to target them with paid advertising, no matter how hard you try.

At The End Of The Day, It Still Costs Money

Even though you may be getting some of the lowest costs per clicks you will ever expect to receive, you are ultimately still paying for them, when you might be able to get them for free. If you are in a competitive industry, then this can still start to rack up.

No Competition

If you are in a very niche industry or have a small local business, it might be true that there is little or no competition in paid or organic search. In these situations it might be worthwhile evaluating if there is any gain to be had if there is no real competitors to fend off.

Lead Attribution Gets A Bit Confusing

It’s likely that you are using Analytics to track what channels are being most beneficial in generating leads or sales. By bidding on branded terms, the ROI on your overall Adwords spend will start looking a whole lot better when you segment paid from organic traffic in Google Analytics… yet realistically the vast majority of the sales would have probably come organically to you too. Of course there are ways you can filter out some of the data coming through from branded campaigns, but it’s starting to make your lead attribution a bit more of a grey area.


Overall, the benefits of bidding on your own branded keywords far outweigh the negatives. Many people may just dismiss it as a further unnecessary expense, but it is important to look at the long term benefits it will bring. Increasing your dominance in search rankings, fighting off competitors and helping your Adwords account alone is justification why you should, and when it can be done for a very minor cost it really is an easy decision.

Now the only question

…should you be bidding on your competitors branded terms as well?