Why Buy the Ads If You're Getting The Clicks for Free?

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

"Are you nuts? Why would I ever want to run a paid search campaign on my branded keywords? I'm already ranked well organically."

Sound familiar? I've lost count of the number of times we've fielded a question like this from our clients. On the surface, it seems like a reasonable concern. After all, you've already optimized your site and you're ranking well and getting a bunch of traffic from searches that include your brand name. Why would you turn around and pay the search engines for that traffic? Speaking of which, it's your brand that these people are looking for. Why should you have to pay?

Well you don't have to. But if you don't buy and manage your branded keywords, you're missing out on the opportunity to control the way your company is represented in search. When you've got an audience that's seeking your brand out, are you willing to leave their experience up to chance?

What are some of the specific things to think about when deciding whether or not to buy your branded keywords?



Target your messaging: One drawback to relying on organic search is your inability to control the way your company is described. Search engines automatically pull whatever seems to be the most relevant description from your page, often completely bypassing your key messages. On the other hand, paid search allows you to dictate exactly what gets communicated. Just announced a major sponsorship? Introduced a new tag line or product offering? With paid search you can make sure that it's part of the message.

Special delivery: In search, getting your customers to click is only half the battle. You also want to make sure that they can find what they're looking for when they get there. If your home page is the highest ranking page in the organic listing, does that necessarily make it the best place to deliver someone who's looking for your brand? Paid search allows you to control landing pages, testing the efficacy of different pages at hitting your goals.

Short-term gains: Are you running a promotion on your Web site for a limited time to try to drive sales or registrations? Good luck getting that across through organic results. A vast majority of sites only get spidered once every couple of months. Chances are, by the time the engines drop by to scan your content, your promotion will be long gone. By contrast, paid search campaigns can be live in a matter of hours, allowing you to start your sale off right.

Lock out your competitors: In addition to controlling your messaging, every ad slot you take up is one less that your competition can potentially use to lure away your competitors. And, of course, the more times you show up on a page, the more chances you have to get clicked on.

Control the conversation: Remember: Paid search ads don't just show up in search anymore. Through programs like AdSense, your ad can be displayed on a wide variety of publisher sites (including blogs) that may be talking about your brand. If you're buying your branded keywords, you have the invaluable opportunity to be present and share your point of view whenever someone mentions your brand.

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