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Is There A Difference Between Branded And Non-Branded Traffic? What Is It?

Search strategies and branded vs non-branded traffic, how should they be treated and what’s the difference between the two? First things first, when it comes to targeting and attribution you should always unpack the considerable things.

Search campaigns have certain goals, which can be anything from achieving specific conversion types to generating awareness to driving traffic.

One thing is still constant, and that’s that we’re still focused on using specific keywords and driving traffic for SEO and PPC even though the data we receive in analytics and Search Console reporting has changed quite a bit over the years.

SEO that’s context-focused is a lot more about topics nowadays than it is about the top 10 terms or one single term because building topical relevance is important to help you rank for long-tail keywords,  more natural queries that are being served in voice search, and top-level generic terms.

The distinction between all types of terms, topics, methods to concentrate on keywords and ad-targeting, etc is branded vs non-branded.

The original question is “Is there a difference?” and “What’s the difference?”. There is a major difference between the two and many ways to handle or treat them. In this article, I’ll explain how they differ from each other and also three of the most important key ways by which we look at branded vs non-branded keywords are in our search campaigns.

1. Focus And Targeting

In search marketing keyword research plays a big role in what we do. On an ongoing basis or when we’re setting up a new campaign, we make sure that our organic positioning and ads are where they should be. We also look at match types, keywords, and intent.  The term brand vs non-brand has a very big impact on our targeting and there are different thoughts and opinions on whether you should be bidding on branded terms or not.

If you have a question or even theory, test it. There are cases to be made for the demand of branded terms, whether you have a generic brand name or not much knowledge or awareness. It shouldn’t cost much to protect your brand by advertising on it, despite any level of effort to get people to bid on it or leaving the option to show up open if you’re in a competitive space.

Fix it immediately if you’re not exactly ranking number one for your brand organically and also not at the top of the Map Pack. Unless your company hasn’t been around long enough to be considered by that term yet, or its name is literally in your target language, there should be some concern regarding your site.

Evaluate search traffic share, so that you are able to know how many people are searching on them. You can also take a manual look at the SERPs for those terms. Know what the organic listings and Map Pack are displaying, also know who is advertising, what ads are displaying, and use keyword spy tools. This will help you map out your level of effort that is being put into brand vs non-brand terms. This will also help you plan your strategy better.


2. Brand Conflicts

Be aware of what happens with your search at all times, and where traffic is coming from. While you realize that you may need to protect your brand by spending money on ads in order to be in the slot for branded terms.

Know your total volume for branded traffic and benchmark your organic and paid search numbers. You should also be very aware of how increases in the form of branded traffic impact your organic traffic if you’re considering starting bidding on branded terms in paid search.

You should do what you see working both organically and paid, but also make sure that you’re able to tell the difference between paid and organic traffic and that you’re not paying for traffic that you can get normally.

3. Resellers, Distributors & Partners

There’s always the big question, what drives your results? Should you care about the brand? Can’t you get that traffic by default? 

Everybody hopes yes, and that they don’t have to pay for it, but there are strong arguments being made about putting a lot of attention on branded items and also paying for them. This can be both sensitive and important at the same time if you’re in an industry with a multi-step channel. There are some industries that thrive off paid traffic and being number one.

If you’re a manufacturer that sells both direct and through retailers or distribution partners, the relationship you have is already sensitive. Volume is better through partners, but selling directly is also good. Your partners may not like to compete with you, but you’re your products own authority nevertheless. 

It can help to work backward while looking at your end goals!