Branded versus Non-Branded Keywords

Branded versus Non-Branded Keywords – Must Know SEO Tactics

By: Frank DePino | May 14, 2021

Your online presence is extremely important to your company’s success. That’s why it’s important to look at key strategies that help your business’ brand grow online. One way to do that is to look at branded vs. non-branded keywords.

But what exactly are branded vs. non-branded keywords? In this article, we’ll go over:

  • What is a branded keyword?
  • What is a non-branded keyword?
  • Examples of branded keywords and non-branded keywords
  • Why are they important?
  • Benefits of branded and non-branded keywords
  • Drawbacks of branded and non-branded keywords
  • SEO and PPC tactics involving branded keywords and non-branded keywords
  • Which is better: branded keywords or non-branded keywords?

Now, let’s get into the details about branded vs. non-branded keywords and how they can help your business.

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What’s the difference between a branded vs. non-branded keyword?

A branded keyword is a keyword that has your brand’s name included in it, or a variation of your brand’s name in it. If someone were to search that keyword, something related to your brand would pop up, including your website, products, and social media accounts. Non-branded keywords, on the other hand, are keywords that are related to your brand but don’t have your brand’s name in them.

These could be:

  • Products your company sells
  • Services your company offers
  • Topics your company has authority and expertise in

While non-branded keywords don’t directly name your brand, they do still drive traffic to your website if you utilize them properly.

The marketing manager is teaching an SEO junior the difference between branded and non-branded keywords.

Examples of Branded Keywords and Non-Branded Keywords

Here are some examples of branded keywords:

These are examples of branded keywords because they have a company’s name directly in the keyword.

McDonalds, Oral-B, Samsung, Domino’s, and Mediaboom are all companies that have digital assets, like websites and social media profiles, associated with them.

Here are some examples of non-branded keywords:

  • Fast food burgers
  • Toothbrushes
  • Smartphones
  • Pizza
  • Digital marketing agency

Whereas branded keywords contain specific company names, non-branded keywords are words associated with each company previously listed.

For instance, “fast food burgers” is considered a non-branded keyword that McDonalds can use, and digital marketing agency is a non-branded keyword Mediaboom can use.

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Why Are They Important?

There are notable differences with branded vs. non-branded keywords, but they’re both important tools for your SEO strategy.

Branded keywords are important because they help more internet users find your business directly.

Anyone can search for a non-branded keyword, but other search results from other companies will come up.

However, if someone searches a branded keyword that has your company’s name in it, your brand and website will show up first.

So, why are non-branded keywords important?

Non-branded keywords are important because they help you gain visibility online through organic search efforts.

Sure, people may not directly put your company’s name next to a certain keyword when they type it into a search engine, but if you build enough authority around that keyword, your website could show up on the first page anyways.

The marketing directors are enjoying the benefits of branded and non-branded keywords.

Benefits of Branded Keywords and Non-Branded Keywords

When discussing branded vs. non-branded keywords, it’s important to discuss the benefits of each type of keyword.

One of the biggest perks of branded keywords has already been mentioned: they help bring traffic directly to a company’s website.

That’s because the search intent is clear—people are looking for services or products from your specific brand.

There’s very little competition on that search engine results page (SERP) that can satisfy the user’s search intent.

Branded keywords also allow you to control the messaging behind the keywords your brand is tied to. That’s a vital benefit, especially since statistics show there were more than 4.6 billion internet users as of January 2021.

That’s literally billions of opportunities for your branded keywords to be found.

You want to make sure the messaging behind those terms is controlled and concise.

Non-branded keywords have their benefits as well. Non-branded keywords allow companies to build their organic search and increase their online visibility without having to spend a fortune.

Some companies like to utilize branded keywords in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, but that can get expensive.

Plus, using non-branded keywords helps expand your company’s organic reach. Branded keywords are so specific that their search volume may be lower compared to non-branded keywords.

That makes sense since the intent is different.

For instance, the intent behind “digital marketing agency” is pretty general. People want to know what a digital marketing agency is and where a few around them may be.

However, “Mediaboom digital marketing agency” is very specific, as people are looking for Mediaboom in particular.

Since the intent is not as specific with non-branded keywords, there’s a greater opportunity for companies to increase their reach.

This casts a larger net on the internet and increases the chances of a typical user to become a loyal follower and, eventually, a customer.

The SEO specialist is evaluating the drawbacks of branded keywords.

Drawbacks of Branded Keywords and Non-Branded Keywords

You have to know the drawbacks of each keyword when discussing branded vs. non-branded keywords.

One drawback of branded keywords is that they can be expensive to upkeep with PPC campaigns, and sometimes, the user intent can cause someone who is simply browsing for information about your company to click on the ad, but not take any transactional action.

Branded keywords are also limiting in a way.

Using branded keywords assumes that enough people know about your company to search its brand along with a certain keyword.

You have to be confident that internet users are searching your brand, along with certain keywords, to get viable results.

There are also a couple of drawbacks to using non-branded keywords.

The biggest one, arguably, is that using non-branded keywords doesn’t bring in direct traffic the way branded keywords do.

If you target the keyword “sneakers”, a number of different search results can come up, since other companies rank for that term. That means your page may get very little traffic if it doesn’t rank well.

Another drawback to using non-branded keywords is that they can get expensive in PPC ads, especially if the keyword is competitive.

That’s why it’s important to monitor your PPC campaigns and see that they meet your goals. Otherwise, you could be burning money.

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SEO and PPC Tactics Involving Branded Keywords and Non-Branded Keywords

When discussing branded vs. non-branded keywords, it’s important to discuss the SEO tactics that involve both forms of keywords.

One way to utilize non-branded keywords in SEO is to build authority around non-branded keywords so you rank well for them.

One of the best ways to build authority and boost your SEO efforts is to create content targeting those non-branded keywords.

For instance, if you want to rank for “blogging tips”, you can create content that outlines the best tips for blogging.

The content you can create includes:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts
  • Free resources/whitepapers 

The more useful content you produce about a certain topic or keyword, the more likely you’ll rank well for a non-branded keyword.

This strategy can also help you build authority and trust with your online audience, which can help them convert from casual browser to customer.

There are SEO and PPC tactics you can use for branded keywords as well.

For instance, when it comes to SEO, you can build on variations of your branded keywords to help draw in more traffic.

When it comes to branded keywords, many marketers like to utilize them for PPC campaigns. This strategy can work for numerous reasons.

For starters, it can protect your branded keywords from your competitors. Your competition may try to steal your branded keywords in PPC advertising, so it’s best to keep up with them so you don’t lose them.

Branded keywords in PPC campaigns can also help you control the traffic you attract.

You can control the layout and message on the specific web page you link to the ad and attempt to increase conversions.

Essentially, using branded words for PPC campaigns can help you keep control of your brand and the traffic you bring in.

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Which is Better: Branded Keywords or Non-Branded Keywords?

We’ve talked about branded vs. non-branded keywords throughout this article, but the question remains: which one is better? The answer is: there is no right answer.

Branded keywords and non-branded keywords serve different purposes, and therefore, they both are important.

Branded keywords work well for well-established companies that want to narrow down their traffic and really optimize a message. Non-branded keywords, on the other hand, work better for smaller organizations trying to broaden their reach and establish their authority.

The search intent is different for these terms, but they’re both viable tools companies must use in their SEO and PPC strategies.

To fully utilize keywords and boost your SEO, contact our team and we can help your organic traffic skyrocket.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.


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