You’ve been promoting your business or your client’s business for some time now. Moreover, though you know very well about the age-old dilemma of which kind of keywords to choose for your campaigns, hitherto you’ve resolved the puzzle by yourself. Now here comes some solid advice from from the experts at adCenter.

While the title of this post (Brand Or Generic) seems to suggest that you need to choose one over the, the fact is that in order to have an effective search campaign on adCenter you need an optimum mix of both. This is so because both are interdependent and fulfill quite specific, at the same time equally important functions. On the one hand if you skip generics, the users may never find your brand, and on the other leaving out brand keywords could have the users tempted away by a competitor.

adCenter Tips: What Keywords To Choose Brand Or Generic?

It might seem just theory but there’s actually proof that searchers behave this way. In the year 2007 and in association with Comscore, Microsoft conducted a research to find out just this.

The focus of the study was search traffic to over 20 of the most popular travel sites from June to August 2007. All the keyword searches were categorized as either brand or non-brand generic, and were tracked to find out whether they led to a referral (a hit on a travel site) or a secure session (a user navigating to a secure purchase section of the site). The results of the study came out as interesting:

adCenter Tips: What Keywords To Choose Brand Or Generic?

“Arrow A” shows the lower number of generic searches leading to higher numbers of referrals. The “Arrow B” shows fewer branded referrals leading to more secure sessions.

Furthermore, of all the tracked searches during the period, about 60% were brand searches. While there were a lower number of generic searches, generic keywords accounted for 51% of all referrals. But when you consider secure sessions, 71% came from brand searches. Suggesting, that generic keywords are critical to driving users to your site but may not convert to a sale immediately. Moreover, the drivers of conversions are brand keywords, but without the refinement and filtering provided by generics, users may not be able to discover the brands.

What is the significance of either the Generic Strategy or the Brand Strategy?

Generic Strategy

Apparently, there is a perception amongst some search campaign planners that if a keyword doesn’t convert directly to a sale it is not worth having. As it doesn’t make a good financial sense to be competitive on high volume generic keywords where the bid depth is too great. Not that it perception is completely false, in fact it’s true for some search engines and specific advertisers e.g. a small hotel in Torquay bidding on the keyword ‘hotels.’ At the same time there’s lots of good quality traffic available on Live Search with the aid of generic keywords.

According to the Comscore study’s findings about 15% of generic searches led to a referral on Live Search compared to 11% for Google and 8% for Yahoo! , thereby suggesting that there are a higher proportion of referrals available from generic searches on Live Search compared to other search engines in the study. A relevant list of generic keywords coupled with a great ad copy could make you more visible.

Brand Strategy

When it comes to brand keywords, many question that why should they bid on their brand keywords when they’re already ranking #1 or #2 in the organic search results? One pertinent driver of conversions is that you are represented at the brand level so that you don’t lose potential customers at the final hurdle to a competitor. Moreover, another standard measures of a brand across all advertising mediums is the level of trust that brand has. If you rank #1 or #2 in both natural and PPC listings, it would reinforce your brand in terms of visibility to the user in addition to enhancing user’s trust in the brand.

Furthermore, there’s more evidence in support of it from a search behavior by Neilsen’s Net Ratings in August/September 2007. More than a third of respondents reported that they form a more favorable perception about site, if it appears in the sponsored links section. Google users were half as likely to form a favorable perception about sponsored listings. On the whole Live Search was found to have scored highest among search engines overall, therefore you can take advantage of “this trusting audience” when you bid on your own brand keywords.

adCenter Tips: What Keywords To Choose Brand Or Generic?

Bot Brand as well as generic keywords are critical to a PPC campaign. They have different functions and metrics. It’s a good idea to keep them in separate ad groups or separate campaigns so that account reporting and analysis can be meaningful. Moreover, if you are ranking below #3 for your own brand, you might want to review your strategy. As the bids are perhaps too low or there isn’t an exact match bidding strategy.

A couple of days back there had been advice from adCenter about augmenting your sales by expanding your keywords, you can take a peek here.


Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet is also the CEO of SEO Services company PageTraffic which is one of the leading search marketing company in Asia.