I remember it like it was yesterday. The CEO of the agency I was working with came over to my desk and said that he needed me to accompany him and our VP to a strategy discussion with a prospective Gold Level client.
“Me??” I thought. “Why me??”
“They’re testing us,” he said.
“They’ve invited the VP of another agency and we need you there to speak about digital if it comes up. We need to show them that we know our stuff.”
The day of the meeting, I felt like I was gonna barf. What the hell was I even going to talk about?
When I arrived at this prospective client’s posh office, I was ushered into a private boardroom where a bunch of middle-aged men in expensive suits with fancy cuff links waited. I can’t even tell you how out of place I felt in my ponte-knit leggings from Ricki’s and my plain old black flats from Aldo (don’t judge, they were like, trouser leggings! I swear I don’t wear yoga pants to work).
“Yep, definitely gonna barf,” I thought. “I’m not cut out for meetings like this.”
I sat quietly, listening politely to the business banter of rich men (it always starts with a discussion about all the other rich people they know), alert in case the discussion turned towards digital marketing and praying I wouldn’t actually have to speak.
The VP of the competing agency said loudly, his voice dripping with condescension, “I’ll never understand those idiots that bid on their own brand name in Google. Like when you search for Nike and you see a Nike ad right above their organic listing. What a waste of money!”
This was it. This was my moment. Time to speak up.
“Actually, it’s a very smart thing to do,” I said clearly. Everyone when quiet and turned to look at me. “It’s a very strategic search engine marketing tactic and I do it all the time.”
“Really,” the VP scoffed, clearly skeptical. “Why would you do that?”
“Well, there are actually several benefits to bidding on your own brand name,” I replied, suddenly feeling a little more confident. I had just finished writing on my thoughts on the subject for this very article.
Here’s what I said to that skeptical middle-aged rich VP looking down at me through narrowed eyes:
Your Competitors Are Doing It
I don’t just mean bidding on their own brand name. They’re bidding on yours too! Even if your Search Engine Optimization game is on point and you’re showing up at the very top of the organic results, paid ad spots show first. That ad space has to be filled by somebody and leaving that top ad spot open gives your competitors an opportunity to steal hard-earned organic traffic from you.
And even if you don’t think your competitors are smart enough to bid on YOUR brand in particular, it’s very possible that they may be doing so without even realizing it, especially if your business name contains a generic word related to your product or service.
For example, when I search the generic term “dance studio” what do I see? 4 out of 6 businesses have the words “dance studio” directly within their business name.
This means that if I specifically search for Fred Astaire Dance Studio, any other dance school in the city could overtake Fred Astaire’s organic listing, simply because they’ve bid on “dance studio’ as a keyword.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio would be wise to bid on their own brand name to ensure that their own site is first to be seen when a potential customer searches for them online.
It Can Increase the Click-Through Rate on Your Organic Search Listing
We all know that repetition is important in advertising (not to the point where the consumer wants to kill you, but you know what I’m saying). When you bid on your own brand, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to dominate the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), with your brand appearing in several places.
Think about the breakdown of the SERP. Paid ads show up at the top. Next, you see business locations pulled from Google Maps. Then you see the organic search results. If managed correctly, your brand could be listed in all three sections.
Appearing in multiple places throughout the page gives your brand an air of authority and encourages a sense of trust among your target audience. Your potential customers will be thinking “Damn, this company is everywhere! They MUST know what they’re doing!”
And just like that, users will be more likely to click on your organic search listing, not just your paid ad. By dominating the SERP, you’re proving that you ARE what your audience is looking for.
It Increases Your Overall Quality Score
When you bid on your own brand name your Click-Through Rate is likely to be very high. That’s because your ad is highly relevant to the user. And as you know, a healthy CTR is one of top influencing factors when it comes to your Quality Score.
There’s conflicting information out there about whether the Quality Score of individual keywords can affect your account as a whole but in my experience, when you bid on your own brand name it definitely provides a positive ripple effect!
I was recently struggling to overhaul a large account that had been stuck with a low CTR for months (I’m talking like 0.5% – yikes!). It can be very difficult to improve a historically low Quality Score, but with a month of hard work I had brought the campaign up to an average of 1%. This wasn’t good enough for me. I created a new Ad Group targeting the client’s brand name and within another month, I was seeing an average CTR of 3-5% on ALL Ad Groups within that campaign!
This is anecdotal evidence, I know. But I’ve noticed this trend across several of my client accounts and I firmly believe that a top quality ad group can lift an entire campaign.
It’s Really, Really Cheap! Like, REALLY Cheap!
If you’ve been reading my emails for some time, you’ll know that a higher Quality Score leads to lower costs.
Some keywords, depending on how competitive they are, can be quite expensive. Like, several dollars per click! But when you bid on your own brand name, you might pay as little as $0.15 per click.
That’s how much I’ve been paying to bid on the name of my family’s dance school. Over the last three months, clicks from branded searches have made up more than 30% of their total paid search traffic at only 6% of their total costs.
Now that’s CHEAP traffic!
You Can Control Your Messaging via Sitelinks
Have you ever noticed the page links that show up under a website listing in your Google search results? Those links are a great way to drive traffic to valuable internal pages within your site. But Google generates these links based on what they think is most important, and they don’t always get it right.
When you search for my family’s dance school, the inner page links that show up under their organic listing are for Registration and Competitive Dance.
Yes, of course, they want people to visit the Registration page! But their Competitive Team is not what drives revenue for the business. Their primary source of revenue comes from the littlest kids taking dance once a week, just for fun. So if a young mom is searching or a ballet class for her toddler and sees Competitive Dance as the main link, she might not realize that our school offers recreational classes and she’ll look elsewhere.
I’ve actually had mothers say to me in the lobby of the school, “I was a little hesitant to enrol my child because I was afraid this school was all about hardcore competitive training. My daughter just wanted to try out a Hip Hop class with her friends. I’m glad this turned out to be a fun recreational school, too!”
How many other moms were thinking the same thing, but chose NOT to register?
As a marketing strategist, it’s important that I find a way to control the dance studio’s narrative. I can do this using a Sitelink Extension in Google Ads, so if another young mom searches for our school she’ll see Beginner Classes as the first link below our company name.
So, What Happened With that Skeptical VP?
“Huh,” he said after I’d finished telling him everything I’ve written here, his skepticism replaced by intrigue. “I just learned something. I think a meeting is always a success if you come away from it having learned something, so thank you.”
“OMG I just like, schooled this guy!” I thought, feeling pretty proud.
Later that afternoon on our way back to the office, my VP said to me, “You handled yourself really well in there. He was impressed by you. Well done.”
Yes, I still remember it like it was yesterday.
That was the day I found my voice. The day I realized that I can hold my own in the boardroom. The day I knew that I could actually become a teacher. That Define Marketing could become more than just a personal blog. It was truly a Defining moment.
So, get out there and start taking control of your own narrative. Try bidding on your own brand name, and let me know what happens!