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Branded Search: A Digital Marketer’s Greatest Ally

Many SEOs have a love-hate relationship with branded search. Branded search can be defined as traffic from organic search on keywords that contain the organisation’s brand name. It has varying levels of importance depending on the type of website, but in the context of ecommerce branded search usually comes in two flavours:

  • Searches for the ecommerce store’s own brand name
  • Searches for the brand names of products sold in the ecommerce store

For example a sports wear store like the UK’s Sports Direct will get searches for its own brand name, as well as searches for specific brands that it sells such as Nike and Adidas.

Sports Direct SERP

I consider both of these types of searches to be branded searches, though some consider the second type to be a generic or product-specific search. Regardless of the semantics of it, both types of branded searches tend to have one thing in common: they convert really well.

In fact in every ecommerce scenario I’ve ever analysed, branded searches tend to outperform generic searches by at least 50%. That means that these branded searches are incredibly powerful and a potential goldmine for the website.


Targeting brand searches

The problem is that most online marketing strategies don’t pay much attention to these branded searches, usually for these two reasons:

  • The site already ranks first for its own brand name and its variations;
  • The site doesn’t want to – or can’t – invest in product brand names, as it would be competing with the manufacturer of said product.

But I would argue that encouraging branded search should be part of every website’s online marketing strategy, precisely because it has such a high conversion rate. Every site should want more branded search traffic, and do whatever they can to encourage people to type their brand names in to a search engine more often.

Obviously SEO might not be the ideal tactic to increase branded searches. If the site already ranks first for its own brand name, there’s limited mileage for SEO to increase traffic on those branded searches. At most what you could do is experiment with different titles and meta descriptions to see if you can improve the click-through rate.


Increasing Branded Searches

So how do you increase branded searches? The real potential lies, of course, in old-fashioned above-the-line advertising. Nothing encourages branded searches more than television and radio ads, magazine spreads, billboards, and more of such classic marketing goodness.

A well-executed social media marketing campaign can also add a lot of value. All those extra Facebook likes and Twitter retweets are likely to add to your branded search volume somewhere down the line.

When it comes to searches for product brand names, if you’re not the manufacturer you can still hitch a ride on the brand’s ATL marketing efforts. Keep a sharp eye on what campaigns the manufacturer is running, and make sure your site’s product descriptions and hero banners stay on top of those.

To summarize: There’s a lot of value to be had from branded searches, and you’d be wise to include a growth strategy for branded search in your overall online marketing plan.

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