How to improve branded paid search campaigns in Google & reduce unnecessary spend

Added on 24 Mar 2022 by Jade Rowlatt

When someone searches for your brand in Google, you want to be the first and only thing they see in the results. Aka: you want to dominate the SERPs.

If you don’t do branded paid search campaigns and leave it up to the Google gods, your business will miss out on big opportunities for brand awareness, conversions and increases in revenue.

But how do you make sure you’re using your branded campaigns in the most effective and efficient way for your business’ goals and budgets?

In this blog post we’ll go through exactly how to improve branded PPC campaigns and reduce unnecessary spend.

Generic versus branded paid search campaigns

First let’s explain exactly how your branded PPC campaigns differ from general campaigns - and why they’re so important in digital marketing.

  • Branded campaigns target people searching specifically for you (and your branded terms)

  • General campaigns target people searching generally for the things you sell

What’s a general paid search campaign?

A non-brand, general search campaign targets the majority of user searches. These searches are usually mid-purchase-intent, general terms like ’wireless headphones’ or ‘portable speakers’. They don’t specify a particular brand and often imply that a user’s still in the early stages of the purchase funnel.

What’s a branded search campaign?

A branded search campaign targets brand-specific keywords, which normally show up when someone searches for your brand or company in Google, with or without a product name included.

So instead of the general sound system-related search terms above, PPC branded keywords would be like ‘JBL’ or ‘JBL Xtreme 2’. These usually come with a higher purchase-intent and therefore a higher chance of converting to a sale.

How Google Search Ads assess brand versus non-branded PPC

Google’s main priority for search is to show the most relevant information for users. Which means it calculates the cost and relevancy of a campaign by estimating the likelihood that a searcher will click on a particular result.

For instance, let’s look back at the JBL example.

When users type the keyword ‘JBL’ into their search engine, Google knows they’re specifically looking for a JBL product, not just a general audio product. So even if Sony or Bose run a campaign targeting ‘JBL’ as a keyword, JBL’s result is still the most relevant, which is why Google’s likely to list it at the top.

What’s so important about branded search campaigns?

Here’s why you should have branded campaigns always running if you’re an online retailer:

1. You can use them to control your brand’s messaging

While it’s likely that your website pages will appear in organic search results for branded keywords, you can’t easily control which organic listings show up, even with the best SEO strategy. But you can control paid search ad campaigns. You have the ability to experiment with different landing pages, products, promotions, ad copy and more to see which drives the high click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate on branded keywords.

2. If you don’t buy your space, your competitors will

You have to claim your digital space, so to speak. Otherwise you risk your competitors targeting your brand keyword and sitting at the top spot - where you should be - and potentially stealing customers.

3. Branded search campaigns should have the highest relevance and click-through rates

Due to their high search intent, these PPC branded keywords are easy wins for your eCommerce business. Target them right, and you’ll see some impressive results.

4. Brand search campaigns are some of the cheapest you’ll ever run

The better your ads, the more Google will reward you for being the most relevant result for users with a cheaper cost-per-click (CPC).

How to improve your branded PPC campaigns

The downside: creating a branded search campaign doesn’t always give you success.

In our experience, we’ve seen a lot of businesses who set up branded campaigns on their own unintentionally hinder themselves - which usually ends up in them overspending on both branded and general campaigns. And a lot of the time, they’re not even aware of it.

The upside: finding - and fixing - this issue is straightforward.

Here’s how.

Step 1 - Make sure you’re not competing against yourself

If you’re running brand and general campaigns together, you need to know if they’re competing against each other. To do this, identify what search terms are triggering your branded and general campaigns in Google Ads.

Just to be clear: a search term is a search word or phrase that’s triggered the campaign to show up on a user’s search.

You can find these search terms using the Search Terms Report in Google Ads.

To find the report:

  1. Open your branded campaign

  2. Click on the ‘Keywords’ tab

  3. Click ‘Search terms’

You’ll then see data for which search terms triggered impressions and clicks.

Simply repeat the process for any of your general campaigns. Then compare the results for the two and see if there’s an overlap. If you see the same keywords triggering branded and general campaigns, you’re damaging your results for both types of campaigns - and increasing your overall price.

What’s the cause of the overlap?

Why does Google trigger your brand campaign for general terms to begin with?

The answer is it can happen with any branded paid search campaign, but it’s more than likely to happen when:

  • Your product or service name is similar to your brand name

If your brand name is ‘Best Furniture Co.’ and you sell furniture, search terms like ‘furniture’, ‘best furniture’ or ‘best furniture in Nottingham’ will naturally trigger both campaigns.

  • Your company name is similar to a competitor’s name

In this instance, your competitor is ‘Better Furniture Co.’ When someone searches for your competition, you might want them to find you, but through your general search campaign - not your branded campaign.

Step 2 - Use negative keywords to tidy up your branded campaign

If you’re accidentally competing with yourself, it’s an easy fix: use negative keywords to clean up your branded campaigns.

To find your negative keywords:

  1. Open your branded campaign

  2. Click on the ‘Keywords’ tab

  3. Click ‘Negative keywords’

Going back to our previous example, if your company is ‘Best Furniture Co.’, there’s a high chance the keyword ‘best furniture’ is triggering your branded campaign. If it is, simply remove ‘best furniture’ from your branded campaign by adding it as a negative keyword.

Then use your general campaign to compete for ‘best furniture’ or any other general keyword that was triggering your brand campaign.

When you clean up your branded campaign, you’re increasing (and improving) the relevance of brand keywords. You’re telling Google that you’re the company to display for these brand-specific keywords. And in doing so, you become the most relevant site for your branded terms, whilst decreasing your overall campaign costs.

Start reaping the rewards of successful branded paid search campaigns

Branded search campaigns are an easy way for your eCommerce business to benefit from ready-to-purchase customers. When you make your site and products as visible as they can be through Google Ads, your bottom line will improve (as long as you do it properly).

Use our simple steps above to improve your campaigns and prevent unnecessary overspending. Prefer someone else to do it for you? Talk to us and we’ll be happy to go through your campaigns and highlight new opportunities to increase your ROAS.