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How to (and Not to) Protect Your Brand on Search Engines

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I’m a huge fan of running brand campaigns for all of my paid search clients, especially when they lack real estate on the first page of search results.

Since the first listing on search engine result pages (SERPs) capture the lions share of the clicks it’s important that you show up #1 for all of your branded search terms.

If you aren’t #1 you’re either being outranked by a competitor organically or your competitors are bidding on your brand terms and stealing customers that are ready work with you.

I was recently in Las Vegas for Pubcon and I met the owner of a small hosting company called Zeneva. He went on and on about how great his company is at web hosting and how great they are at search marketing as well. After an hour or so of hearing him talk up his company I left the conversation with a business card that was likely to go in the trash by the end of the day.

Fast forward to that evening, I was emptying my pockets in my hotel room to follow up on some legitimate leads and found his card on top. I thought to myself “why not see if they’re really as good as I was being led to believe?”

I ended up Googling the name of the company and found this little gem:


A competing hosting company, Peer1, is bidding on “Zeneva hosting” as a keyword and used “Hosting for Grown Ups” as the headline in the ad copy. Genius.

Think about this for a second: a prospective client wants to do some digging on your company so naturally they turn to Google – what’s the first thing they see? An ad for a competitor in the #1 position with a headline that makes you second guess your decision about working with them.

This is why protecting your brand terms is critical.

Now here’s another example, this time showing how to protect your brand terms, especially if you have a competitor (or a company with the same name) outranking you organically.

One of our clients over at Single Grain, an artificial intelligence and robotics company named Anki, recently ran into this problem. Anki’s website was brand new and there was another very established company with the same name that sold flash cards with an aged website and lots of indexed pages.

Our SEO team started setting the ground work to take over the #1 position immediately but we knew it would take at least several months to confidently take over that #1 spot.

To prevent losing prospective customers interested in purchasing Anki’s new product we setup a brand campaign to protect them from losing branded search traffic.

We setup campaigns for every variations of their brand terms and because brand campaigns usually have a near perfect quality score it only cost $0.05 – $0.20 per click.

You can see in the screenshot below that we’re getting closer to dominating the first page organically for branded searches but until then we’ll keep protecting branded traffic by outranking the flash card site with our brand campaigns.


The big lesson here: being #1 for brand terms is extremely important. Not only is it important to be #1, you need to own as much of the first page real estate as possible to absorb all of the attention you’ve already earned. If prospects are taking the time out of their day to find you don’t make them hunt for your page or accidentally end up a competitors website.

Is your brand protected?


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