Should You Bid on Branded Keywords?

By Tinuiti Team

Conduct a Google search for “Nike shoes” and, not surprisingly, the first organic search result is for the e-commerce store. In fact, in the recent search shown below, held the top seven organic ranking positions with various ages on its store site.

You will also notice that, in the same search, “” was in the first paid advertising position as well. It is logical to ask, “Why would Nike bid on branded keywords when it dominates organic searches?” The following is an exploration of that question.

Nike Shoes Search

Branded Keyword Basics

When search engine user includes a specific brand name in a query as opposed to general terms, it is known as a branded search. For instance, “Nike shoes” is a branded keyword search, whereas “tennis shoes” is not. It is typical that the referenced brand’s website or page appears prominently in organic search results.

Reasons to Bid on Branded Keywords

Some companies might believe it is wasteful to bid on branded keywords if you have the top organic positions. Others might cede control of competitor branded keywords rather than bidding to compete. The following is a list of primary reasons you should bid on branded keywords.

1. Safeguard Against Competition

Nike is a huge company with a well-known and respected brand. However, it consistently bids on branded keywords to garner the top paid search results for relevant branded queries. It does so to prevent competitors from latching on to the top paid position, which is much more prominent on the results page than the first organic result.

2. Control the Message

Metadata is useful in communicating the content on a web page to search users. However, it is limiting relative to your capacity to deliver compelling promotional messages. Bidding on branded keywords gives you more control over the message format, content and landing page. In SEO, Google controls which pages it finds relevant to a user’s search. By bidding, you control the match-up.

3. Improve Segmentation and Targeting

Similarly, there are limits to your ability to segment and precisely target users on SEO. With paid ads, you create filters on demographic, geographic and behavioral traits, which ensures you get the right products and content in front of ideal prospects.

4. Achieve High Return on Investment

A key goal of advertising is to achieve the highest return on investment for your spend. Leaving aside the other reasons to bid on branded keywords, if doing so is more financially-rewarding than other ad options, it makes sense to invest in paid search ads.

5. Optimize Revenue and Profits

The bottom line impact of the other reasons cited is that you optimize revenue and profits with effective ads on branded keywords. You generate more search clicks, targeted traffic, product conversions, long-term customers, repeat business, and referrals. All of these factors contribute to a growing customer base and financial success.


Given the overwhelming advantages of bidding on branded keywords and keeping high-quality traffic away from competitors, there really is no question as to whether you should implement this strategy. The next step is to figure out which branded keywords to target, how much to budget and how to deliver ads that drive results.

For more insights on the financial benefits of bidding on search, read Search, display, and social advertising boosts high-end retailer’s YOY sales by 70%!

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