Skip to content
Back to Blog Woman brainstorming keywords
Paid Search

Championing branded keywords: unleashing the might of paid search

It's time to unravel the importance and incredible benefits of branded search campaigns in the digital marketing arena.

Phyllis Rush
Phyllis Rush

Nov 19, 2023

Championing branded keywords: unleashing the might of paid search


Let's dive into the fascinating world of paid search and branded keywords! In a recent podcast, our hosts, the talented duo Mike Mardis and Nevin Zevell, explored the ins and outs of investing in branded search campaigns. It's time to unravel the importance and incredible benefits of these campaigns in the digital marketing arena.


The conversation kicks off with the burning question of why on earth companies should shell out cash for keywords related to their own brand name. It's a question that clients often ask, wondering why they should bother with paid ads when they already dominate the organic search rankings. The hosts admit that it's a valid concern, but they dive into the nuanced advantages of branded search nonetheless.

Nevin, the organic SEO guru, chimes in and hammers home the power of snagging that number one spot in the organic search results. He drops the bombshell that the top spot snags nearly 30% of all the clicks, while the percentages dwindle for the lower positions.

This is where paid search swoops in like a knight in shining armor, offering the tantalizing opportunity to buy your way to the top instead of grinding it out through the torturous process of organic ranking.

Mike agrees with Nevin's point but emphasizes that branded search is not a replacement for SEO efforts. He stresses the importance of maintaining proper SEO "hygiene" and ranking as high as possible organically. However, he focuses on the benefits of dedicating ad spend to branded keywords in search campaigns.

One key advantage Mike highlights is the ability to control messaging and fine-tune customer experience through paid search. With paid ads, companies can craft headline copy, customize messaging, and display information they believe customers want to know. This level of control is not possible with organic listings, where Google's algorithms determine what information is shown.

Nevin adds that Google's algorithms often scrape the entire page for organic listings, meaning companies have zero control over what Google displays.

Even if you've got a killer page title and meta description, Google might just decide to do its own thing. Talk about lack of control, right? That's why paid search is the bee's knees when it comes to delivering targeted messaging.

Mike stresses the importance of maintaining proper SEO "hygiene" and ranking as high as possible organically.

Nevin and Mike bust the myth that branded search campaigns only target customers at the end of the purchasing journey. Sure, those searching for a brand are likely already familiar with it. But branded search campaigns do so much more! They boost brand visibility, reinforce messaging, and snag potential customers who might be considering other options. It's like a marketing Swiss army knife!

How to Build a Customer Journey Map with Microsoft Dynamics - CRM Software  Blog | Dynamics 365

Control your messaging in paid search.

One of the key points discussed is the ability to control messaging in search results. While Google's algorithm and a whole bunch of other stuff determine organic search results, paid search ads give businesses the chance to be total control freaks and customize their messaging. This is especially awesome for industries that are super competitive or have seasonal fluctuations, because it lets companies constantly tweak and play around with their search ad copy.

Paid search ads give businesses more control over what appears as the first search result when someone Googles their brand. This control over messaging is crucial because it ensures that potential customers see the desired information right away.

By inputting exactly what they want the ad to say and paying for the specific terms they want it to show up for, companies can direct users to specific parts of their website and built-in site extensions. This level of control is especially valuable for businesses that want to promote specific products, services, or promotions.

On the other hand, organic search results are at the mercy of factors like browser history, visited websites, and the searcher's interests. As much as Google strives to find the perfect match for a specific search term and person, there's not much control over the messaging that pops up in organic listings.

This is where paid search advertisements shine, as they allow businesses to provide crystal clear instructions to Google on how they want their messaging to be perceived.

However, it is important to note that the ability to control messaging in paid search is slowly eroding with the introduction of responsive search ads (RSAs). RSAs offer a level of automation by allowing Google to dynamically generate ad combinations based on headlines and descriptions provided by the advertiser. While this still provides a good amount of control, it is not as finite as previous ad formats.

Another important aspect is the risk of competitors bidding on your branded keywords. If a business fails to bid on its own keywords, there is a high chance that competitors will take advantage of this opportunity. This can lead to potential customers being diverted to competitors' websites or seeing messaging that promotes a competitor's brand as superior.

Nevin goes over this nefarious concept of competitors bidding on your own brand's name!


To combat competitors from bidding on your branded keywords, businesses should consider bidding on their own branded keywords to ensure that they have control over the messaging and are not losing potential customers to competitors.

Conquesting can harm smaller brands.

One aspect of paid search that Nevin highlights is the practice of "conquesting", where companies bid on their competitors' branded keywords to divert traffic and potential customers away from them. While conquesting is a common strategy employed by businesses, it can have detrimental effects on smaller brands.

Conquesting involves bidding on a competitor's brand name or branded keywords, which can drive up the cost per click (CPC) for the smaller brand. This means that smaller brands may have to pay more to maintain their own real estate in search results. This can make it cost-prohibitive for them to compete with larger brands that have bigger marketing budgets. As a result, smaller brands may struggle to maintain their visibility and lose out on potential customers.

Both Mike and Nevin acknowledge that conquesting by larger brands is a challenging predicament for smaller brands. The larger brands have more resources and can allocate significant amounts of money towards conquesting campaigns. This puts smaller brands at a disadvantage, as they may not have the financial means to compete on the same level.

Conquesting can harm smaller brands in several ways. First, it can lead to a drop in customer retention. If customers are exposed to messaging from a competitor that claims to be better than the smaller brand, they may be swayed to switch their loyalty. This can result in a loss of traffic and potential sales for the smaller brand.

Second, conquesting can make it more difficult for smaller brands to protect their own house and real estate in search results. By bidding on competitors' branded keywords, larger brands can divert traffic away from the smaller brand's website. This can significantly impact the smaller brand's visibility and hinder its ability to attract new customers.

Furthermore, conquesting can have financial implications for smaller brands. As the CPC for conquesting campaigns increases, smaller brands may find it hard to maintain their presence in search results. The increased cost of advertising can strain their marketing budgets, making it challenging for them to compete effectively with larger brands.

Control messaging to combat conquesting.

Controlling the message is a crucial aspect of combating conquesting in the digital marketing landscape. Conquesting refers to the practice of larger brands targeting smaller brands' keywords and search terms to steal their customers and market share. This can be detrimental to smaller brands, as they may lose visibility and struggle to attract customers.

To combat conquesting, smaller brands need to take control of their messaging and ensure that their fundamentals are locked down. This means that their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be up to snuff, and their paid search marketing campaigns should target the right keywords. Without a strong foundation, smaller brands are in for a world of hurt when facing conquesting from larger brands.

Once the fundamentals are in place, smaller brands need to employ guerrilla tactics to stay competitive. This involves identifying low-competition, high-traffic keywords that they can market on. By analyzing traffic data using tools like SEMrush, smaller brands can uncover opportunities to target keywords that their competitors may be overlooking. This can be a challenging task, but it is essential for smaller brands to find these hidden opportunities to maintain their visibility and attract customers.

Another strategy to combat conquesting is to explore other channels beyond Google search results. Smaller brands need to think omnichannel and identify where their audience may go to make purchases. This could include social media platforms like TikTok or Pinterest, among others. By expanding their presence across different channels, smaller brands can reach their target audience in different stages of the buyer journey and increase their chances of capturing customers.


Screen Shot 2023-11-20 at 5.28.17 PM

Maintaining control over branded keywords is another crucial aspect of combatting conquesting. Smaller brands should bid on their own branded keywords to ensure that their messaging is displayed prominently in search results. This allows them to control the narrative and prevent larger brands from conquesting their keywords.

However, if the cost of bidding on branded keywords becomes prohibitive, smaller brands need to start exploring alternative channels and finding more profitable ways to reach their audience.

Keyword generation is also vital in combatting conquesting (when brands bid on competitor keywords in order for their ads to show up where the competitor’s ad would usually show up.) By analyzing branded search term reports, smaller brands can gain insights into what their target audience is searching for and how they behave during the final decision phase.

This information can fuel organic search efforts, helping smaller brands optimize their organic results to appear in front of potential customers when they are ready to make a purchase. Additionally, this data can inform messaging strategies, allowing smaller brands to tailor their messaging based on customer behavior and preferences.

Brand and paid search synergy.

Brand and paid search synergy is a crucial aspect of digital marketing that can greatly benefit smaller brands. In today's competitive landscape, conquesting has become a common practice where larger brands bid on smaller brands' keywords, diverting traffic and potentially overshadowing their visibility. However, by strategically utilizing paid search and implementing effective brand strategies, smaller brands can combat conquesting and maintain their visibility and competitiveness in the market.

Bidding on competitor keywords: Is conquesting a waste of my time? | Brafton

One of the major perks of using paid search is the power to control your messaging. When you bid on your own keywords, smaller brands get the chance to create messaging that aligns perfectly with their brand identity and speaks directly to their target audience. This level of control allows them to stand out from their competitors and establish a unique brand presence in the market.

Paid search also acts as a shield against conquesting. By bidding on their own keywords, smaller brands can ensure that their ads take center stage in search results, preventing larger brands from hogging all the limelight. Not only does this help maintain visibility, but it also enables smaller brands to attract relevant traffic and potential customers.

Furthermore, investing in paid search can help smaller brands own their own real estate in the digital marketplace. By securing a prominent position in search results, smaller brands can establish themselves as a credible and authoritative presence in their industry. This not only enhances brand recognition but also builds trust among consumers.

In addition, by implementing brand strategies in paid search, smaller brands can unlock a multitude of benefits that extend beyond immediate results. Through keyword generation in paid search campaigns, they can uncover highly effective keywords that will fuel the success of their other marketing endeavors, including non-brand search campaigns, shopping campaigns, and even organic SEO.

This seamless integration of brand keywords throughout different campaigns. It also ensures consistency and fortifies the brand's messaging and identity, creating a powerful and cohesive marketing presence.



However, it is important to strike a balance when incorporating brand into marketing strategies. While brand should be a part of the larger marketing ecosystem, relying solely on branded search terms is ineffective. It is crucial to avoid using brand as the main selling point and instead view it as a specific piece in the marketing funnel.

Allocating a reasonable portion, around 10% to 20%, of the Google search budget to brand campaigns is advisable, depending on the competitiveness of the market.

To make the most of brand campaigns, marketers need to actively manage and optimize them. This includes regularly analyzing keyword performance, experimenting with messaging, and making frequent updates to ad copy. It is also essential to share insights and data with other teams within the organization, such as the social team, to ensure consistent messaging across different channels.

Branded keywords are valuable insights.

Branded keywords are valuable insights that can provide businesses with a wealth of information and opportunities for growth. Let's highlight the importance of branded keywords in understanding consumer behavior, optimizing ad campaigns, and driving sales.

One fascinating revelation that branded keywords can offer is the intriguing connection between specific products and sales. By meticulously examining which products emerge in branded keyword searches and aligning them with sales data, businesses can gauge the effectiveness of their advertising endeavors.

If a branded keyword associated with a particular product fails to translate into increased sales, it suggests that there might be a hiccup in the ad or paid search approach. This invaluable insight empowers businesses to reassess their strategies, whether it involves injecting new creativity, uncovering fresh keywords, or embracing an entirely new approach altogether.

Furthermore, Nevin emphasized the importance of connecting business outcomes with tactical paid search and SEO efforts. Without this connection, it becomes challenging to analyze the impact of marketing campaigns on the overall success of the business. Branded keywords provide a bridge between these two perspectives. This allows businesses to assess the effectiveness of their marketing efforts from a business outcome perspective.

"By meticulously examining which products emerge in branded keyword searches and aligning them with your sales data, you can gauge the effectiveness of your advertising endeavors."

-Nevin Zevell

There is also a misconception that branded keywords are unnecessary or ineffective. On the contrary; branded keywords are an essential part of the marketing apparatus. While every piece of marketing has associated costs, the benefits provided by branded keywords outweigh these costs when used correctly.

Branded keywords help businesses intercept potential customers during the consideration phase, leading up to important events like Black Friday. By appearing in branded search results, businesses can increase their visibility and attract customers during critical purchasing periods.

So, let's wrap it up, folks! Branded keywords are like hidden treasures that businesses simply can't afford to ignore. They hold the key to understanding consumer behavior, supercharging ad campaigns, and driving those all-important sales.

By seamlessly integrating branded keywords into their marketing strategies, businesses can truly amplify their messaging, establish rock-solid credibility, and magnetize customers. And hey, don't forget to allocate a decent budget to those brand campaigns and give 'em some TLC through active management and optimization.

With the unbeatable combo of brand and paid search, businesses can skyrocket their growth and conquer the digital marketplace with style.

Sign up to get monthly newsletter updates. You can unsubscribe at any time if we get too "salesy" or boring. 

Tap into Finch's eCommerce marketing expertise for your business

Who needs a superhero when you have Finch, the powerhouse eCommerce marketing agency? With our cutting-edge proprietary programs, we'll take your eCommerce business to new heights and leave your competition in the dust.

See what we're all about at or reach out to us at You can even get a free, no obligation eCommerce growth assessment here!

Phyllis Rush

Phyllis possesses 25+ years of experience in marketing and sales. As Finch's Senior Content Manager, she works tirelessly to ensure that we operate like a publisher, producing content that educates, informs, and entertains our marketplace.

Latest Articles

How to pick an eCommerce  marketing agency that actually delivers

How to pick an eCommerce  marketing agency that actually delivers

Big promises but disappointing results. So how do you find an advertising agency that actually does what they say they will do?

Maximize Sales on Amazon Prime Day 2024

Maximize Sales on Amazon Prime Day 2024

Unlock the full potential of Amazon Prime Day 2024 with strategic insights to elevate your brand's sales and visibility.

eCommerce Data: From Abundance to Insightful Action

eCommerce Data: From Abundance to Insightful Action

Explore how leveraging advanced data strategies can propel eCommerce companies towards sustainable growth by accurately tracking customer j...