Should your businesses invest in pay-per-click for your brand name?

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Should my business invest in pay-per-click (PPC) for our brand name? It’s a question that I’ve been hit with a number of times, primarily when I come in and take over from an existing AdWords consultant or supplier. I often run through the current AdWords results and see that the company’s brand name has been added in as a keyword.

There are two schools of thought on this, one of which I believe in and one of which I find extremely tenuous at best. But the basis of this is actually dependent on how your SEO is performing. Let me explain.

Brand Name Keywords

We started working with a wholesale coffee company based in Brisbane, Australia called Elixir Coffee. They’ve been established for a long time, with 100 or so cafes buying their product across the city. They also have their own roasting house, which is growing and growing, and an online presence for those wanting to order for delivery to their home or office.

Given the length of time they’ve been established and the size of their business, traffic to their website is busy. And also given their relatively unique brand name, it’s hard for people to confuse them with anyone else.

So I was surprised when we analysed their current AdWords campaign and found one of the keywords was their own brand name ‘Elixir coffee’. Typing that into Google brought up a significant organic ranking, with their website and details already at number one. The remaining rankings included their Facebook page, Urbanspoon’s review of their site, along with TripAdvisor and BeanHunter.

But above the organic ranking was a paid advert for Elixir, which in my opinion was entirely unnecessary. Some Google users don’t understand or necessarily differentiate between the paid adverts and the organic adverts, and they don’t realise that if they click the paid adverts, that will incur a cost to the business.

And this was what was happening — people were clicking the paid link, costing Elixir budget, when they could have removed the paid advert and got them to click the organic link, free of charge.

The Pros and Cons

However, the other school of thought suggests that bidding for your own brand name does two things: firstly, it reinforces your brand identity on the search results page and secondly, it’s a defensive mechanism against competitors trying to use your brand name and get traffic to their website.

Theoretically, these are two valid arguments. But, it is a little excessive to suggest that two results on one page are going to make much difference to your business. The extra result won’t make a difference, so spending money on it is pointless.

The second defensive argument has more weight, but any bidding on competitor keywords is going to start a very messy coffee war. It’s also is going to be very expensive exercise for a competitor to bring traffic to their website that clearly wasn’t looking for them in the first place. Above and beyond anything else, there is such a wealth of other unbranded keywords out there that you really could spend your money better elsewhere.

To conclude, if your AdWords provider is bidding on your own branded keywords, it’s worth taking a look at your results page and asking yourself if it’s really worth it. You could divert that money elsewhere and deliver a much better result for your campaign.