Branded traffic vs unbranded traffic: what’s the difference?


Search Network campaigns have goals that can range from brand awareness, traffic generation, and specific types of conversions.

While the level of data we get in Search Console analytics and aggregate reports has changed over the years, one constant is that for SEO and PPC we still focus on specific keywords and terms. that generate this traffic.

Context-driven SEO these days is no longer about a single term – or the top 10 terms – and is about a lot more about topics.

Building thematic relevance helps you rank for high-level generic terms, long-tail keywords, and even queries that are more natural to serve in voice search.

A big distinction in all types of terms and topics and the ways to focus on keywords and optimization or targeting of ads is branding versus others.

There is a big difference between the two and the ways in which we have to deal with them and deal with them.

In this article, you will learn how they differ and the importance of four key ways of looking at branded keywords versus unbranded keywords in our search campaigns.


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1. Targeting and concentration

Keyword research is a big part of what we do in search marketing.

When building a campaign or on an ongoing basis, we look at keywords, intent, match types and make sure our ads and organic positioning are where we need them.

Brand versus non-brand has a big impact on our targeting.

There are different schools of thought as to whether or not you should bid on branded terms.

My take is that if there is a question, test it. If you have a generic brand name or if you don’t have a lot of brand awareness, there are cases in which to bid on brand terms.

If you are in a competitive space and despite any level of cease and desist letters or efforts to get others to bid on (or leaving open the opportunity to dynamically present) your brand, it shouldn’t cost. expensive to protect it by advertising on it.


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On the flip side, if you’re not organically number one for your brand and you’re not at the top of the Map Pack, fix that right away.

This should be some level of alarm or concern about your site, unless your business name is literally a general word in your target language and you haven’t been around long enough to earn yet. this term.

Do a volume-specific keyword research for your brand terms – any short or long term or phrase that includes branding elements, from the name of the company to products that are registered trademarks.

Know how many people are looking for them so you can gauge the current share of search traffic.

Also take a manual look at the SERPs for these terms.

Know who is advertising, and what the Map Pack and organic listings (and other SERP features) display. Also use keyword spy tools to see which ads might show at other times as well.

This will help you define your strategy and the level of effort to deploy in terms of branding and non-branding.

2. Cannibalization and brand conflicts

While you can identify that you need to protect your brand by spending ad money to be in the first ad space for branded terms, you need to be aware of what’s going on with your search share and where it is coming from. actually traffic.

Compare your paid and organic search numbers for branded traffic. Know the total volume and have a baseline.

If you decide to start bidding on branded terms in paid search, be very aware of the impact of any increase in branded paid traffic on organic traffic.

If both go up, so much the better! Dive deeper and do more of what works both organically and pays off.

If activating a branded paid search account results in a relative decrease in organic traffic, take a closer look.

Are your ads attracting the traffic you would normally get from organic sources?


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Can you say it fully?

Make sure you’re not just paying now for the same traffic you would normally get.

3. Distributors, resellers and other partners

The question of money is always what drives our results.

Should we care about the brand? Won’t we just get this traffic by default?

Hope is yes, and that there is no need to pay for it. However, there are strong arguments to pay and to pay a lot of attention to the terms of the mark.

Some businesses and industries thrive on branded traffic and leadership. If you are in a multi-stage channel industry this can be both very important and sensitive.

Suppose you are a manufacturer who sells direct and also sells through channel partners or retailers. You already have a sensitive relationship.

Margins are better by selling directly, but volume is probably better through partners. Partners might not like to compete with you. Yet you are the authority over your own products.


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Do you see any conflicts here?

How important is being on top of your brand in Ads, Map Pack, Organic Results, and other SERP features to you?

Look at your end goals and work back. It may be okay to let a channel partner or retailer spend those extra ad dollars while you own the organic listings.

You need solid attribution tracking for your own brand. If you have a distribution network, you need to go out of your brand and follow the entire industry and market for your brand.

Either way, know what’s the best investment in paid and organic efforts for branded terms so that you can put as much time and effort into generic terms as possible.

4. Attribution

The last thing a search marketer, marketing manager, executive, or business owner wants is not knowing exactly what drives search performance.

Devote energy to ensuring that there is a clear separation between the brand and the non-brand in your efforts.

Brand searches are driven by brand awareness, marketing, sales, referrals, reputation, and all kinds of factors beyond the control of search marketers and content strategists.


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To some extent, this may also be true for some generic terms.

However, please – at least – take a moment to separate branded terms from non-branded terms in your Rankings, Impressions, Traffic, and Conversions reports.

There’s nothing worse than putting all the research data into one report and later realizing (or being asked about) what proportion of that data was branded versus unbranded. It calls into question the hard work and dollars you spent on your research strategy.

You don’t want to take credit for branded search traffic that wasn’t your fault, good or bad.

You want to be responsible for the work you did to get traffic that was no longer under your control.

Closing thoughts

Whether this post is a pep talk or a whole new piece of information, I hope you take to heart that branded and unbranded traffic should be properly segmented and categorized.

Research marketers are already dealing with enough things beyond our control. We don’t need to take undue credit for branded traffic results (unless it’s part of our strategy), which can then turn into unfounded blame when external factors unrelated to the search loom large. ‘prevail.


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Work on targeting well, be intentional, know where you might cannibalize, and get attribution correct. Don’t cloud the waters!

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Featured Image: ArtemisDiana / Shutterstock

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