Segmenting Branded and Non-Branded Keywords to Maximize Your Media Spend

Megan JoostePPC, SEO

Chances are, your organization is already employing both branded and non-branded keywords in your Paid Media (PPC) and SEO programs. But, the key to really knowing the impact of those branded keywords on conversion results is through segmentation. First, let’s define our terms.

What is a Branded Keyword?

Branded keywords include some aspect of your company’s name, such as:

  • ‘Backpacker’s Pantry emergency meals’
  • ‘Streamline swim lessons Denver’
  • ‘Ascent vanilla protein powder’
  • ‘Rocky Mountain Health Plans marketing jobs’

When you look at your search data and see that a user is using a branded keyword, this means that he or she is looking specifically for your company’s offerings. A branded keyword isn’t limited to when a user is including your company’s name; branded keywords can also include popular abbreviations, nicknames, misspellings, and products that don’t necessarily contain your brand’s name.

What are Non-Branded Keywords?

Searches for products, services, and/or information that might be relevant to your brand but that include no actual mention of your brand or branded products or services are non-branded keywords. In these searches, even if a visitor lands in your domain, there is no indication that he or she had the explicit intent to purchase the searched item from specifically you. Examples include:

  • ‘Emergency meals’
  • ‘Swim lessons Denver’
  • ‘Vanilla protein powder’
  • Insurance company marketing jobs

Although both branded and non-branded keywords play crucial roles in your Paid Media (PPC) and SEO programs, it’s vital to analyze performance across both types of keywords separately.

Why You Should Segment Keyword Performance

Looking at blended traffic will simply not convey the real story of your digital performance. To that point, we’ve recently offered a simple five-part framework to help hospital marketers disaggregate their data to give a clear picture of what is and isn’t working. Not all traffic is the same, and traffic types perform differently from each other. The same goes for branded versus non-branded keywords. The first step, then, is to segment (here’s a quick how-to guide, if you’ve never segmented traffic before) so that you can make more informed decisions on budget allocations.

In general, data for visits generated by branded keywords, such as bounce rate, pages/visit, or conversion rate are going to far outpace data related to non-branded keywords. Simply speaking, this is because people who are deliberate in making their way to your domain are most likely quite committed to getting something done there, and staying until that task is complete. Those visitors are yours to lose, and unique content and UX best practices will help make sure they stay put.

In contrast, visitors who reach your domain via non-domain traffic can be the easiest to lose, even though they present the biggest opportunity for most brands. So, analyzing blended data that measures the performance of branded and non-branded traffic can be misleading: a seemingly healthy blended conversion rate may be hiding weaknesses with your non-branded traffic.

Segmenting emerges again and again as one of the simplest, yet powerful, ways to truly understand performance and where the greatest opportunities for optimization lie. Have any questions? Please reach out; we’d love to help.