Best SEO Podcast
#520 Branded VS. Non-Branded Traffic: What’s the Difference? by Corey Morris
Best SEO Podcast | EWR Digital
Video Transcript
speakerChris Burres·00:16

Hi and welcome to the SEO podcast. Known speakers of internet marketing. My name is Chris Burres. One of the owners here at EWR digital. 

speakerMatt Bertram·00:23

And my name is Matt Bertram. I’m the lead strategist at Eden. EWR digital. 

speakerChris Burres·00:28

And did you happen to set up your mic or are we winging it on this one? I just want to make sure. Okay. You want to talk into the side of it and you want to talk into the side that’s facing me. 

speakerMatt Bertram·00:40

All right. 

speakerChris Burres·00:41

Literally you talking to the, that’s it perfect talking to the side of it. 

speakerMatt Bertram·00:45

Can you hear. 

speakerChris Burres·00:45

Me? Not the tip of it? The side of it, That’s better. 

speakerMatt Bertram·00:50

I’m just going to hold it. 

speakerChris Burres·00:55

We, we do not. And I know you just moved, right? So I’m actually excited that you was set up the, the mic and, you know, that’s the really the one complaint we get. So we want to make sure that we’re taking care of our, 

speakerMatt Bertram·01:08

I actually unplugged my mouse to plug in the mic because I haven’t plugged in my port yet. So. 

speakerChris Burres·01:17

You were operating mouse free for the duration of this podcast. You brave soul. Welcome back to another fun-filled edition of the podcast. Matt and I, we are broadcasting live from Houston, Texas. And we’ve got to ask you a favor, a small favor. It’s really a little bit important where we’re going to ask you for a review. If you’ve listened to this podcast before, if you’ve gotten valuable information on this podcast before, by the way, if you’re listening on YouTube, you should subscribe and then press the little notification bell. So, you know, when the next podcast comes out, podcast, video comes out. And if you could leave us a review, go to AWR, forward slash review, and that’ll take you right to our GMB page and you can leave us a review right there. 

speakerChris Burres·02:05

You can also go to forward slash best SEO podcast and leave us a review there, anything to add to that before we jump into an article, Matt, 

speakerMatt Bertram·02:15

I am sharing this right now since we are alive. 

speakerChris Burres·02:19

Oh, that’s true. 

speakerMatt Bertram·02:20

Yeah. So that’s why I’m trying to multitask here, which I do a very bad job of, 

speakerChris Burres·02:27

Well, I’m going to tell you why you’re doing that. I’m going to share with the audience, the article that we’re covering today is branded versus non-branded traffic. What’s the difference in like, really? What should you do about this? And this is my Corey Morris. This is in, it was in where was it? Search engine journal. So Putin to you, Corey. Oh, look, my face is all glory. This happened last time. And then it took a little while for it to come back. 

speakerMatt Bertram·02:55

And skipping. A lot of people listen to us. 

speakerChris Burres·02:58

Yeah. Because you literally can’t see me at all right now. That’s interesting. Okay. So let’s jump into this article. So branded versus non-branded terms, there’s a big difference between the two and ways we should handle and treat them in this. We’re going to learn the importance of four key ways. We look at branded versus non-branded keywords in our search campaigns, and we have a lot to add to this and it still hasn’t fixed like the video hasn’t fixed them, try something. And we’ll see if that, 

speakerMatt Bertram·03:30

Well, this is a big internal debate, right? Oh, there you go. This is a big internal debate that we’ve had, like, you know, back and forth based on different use cases of when do you use brand and non-brand traffic, you know, there’s things with machine learning. There’s, there’s considerations for collecting data. I mean, there’s a lot, right? So this is a great topic. So I’m excited to get into it. 

speakerChris Burres·03:56

Yeah. And we’ll, we’re gonna kind of we’ll address some questions and give you kind of our summary probably throughout of it, because we really have some, we land in a very clear space. I think. So we’re going to cover these four things. The first one is targeting and focus. There are different schools of thought on if you should bid on branded terms or not. His point of view is that if there’s a question, test it. I think that’s a good strategy. We actually have our point of view, but. 

speakerMatt Bertram·04:24

I like that test. 

speakerChris Burres·04:25

Through our point of view, like do our point of view and then test it and then, you know, create your own point of view actually based on data. Yeah. That’s our structure, our path all the time. If you’re in a competitive space and despite any, and all levels of cease and desist letters or efforts to get others, this is actually what Korea said to get others from bidding on your brand. It shouldn’t cost much to protect it by advertising on it. First off, there’s a, we need to fix a little error there. You’re not actually able to stop people from bidding on your name, right? 

speakerMatt Bertram·05:03

Unless you have a trademark, I think unless you have a trademark, but also a lot of names include certain keywords that you’re wanting to bid on. So it’s not as expensive, but yeah, unless you have a trademark, I think you can bid on whatever you want. 

speakerChris Burres·05:17

Well, and you’re there, frankly. This is more in your purview. I, I, my understanding was that even if you have a trademark, that just means you can’t use their name in your ad, you can still bid on their name. Right. They can’t ever stop you from bidding on their name. You’re just, you know, if we’re talking about Ford and Ford has come after you and said, Hey, you got to stop using our name in the ad, then that has to happen. 

speakerMatt Bertram·05:45

Yeah. You know, I think that to bid on other people’s names, it’s really quite expensive actually. You know? And so I’ve seen mixed data on results. Is it working? Is it not working a lot of times, people type in the name of the company and they just click on the first link without looking at it. And a lot of times their customers. Right. And so a lot of times people are calling and they’re confused on who you are, why they’re calling you. And so, you know, I mean, there’s, I mean, it just really, there’s a lot of different use cases for when you want to bid on the name. I think, you know, I know I haven’t read this article yet. That’s why we’re going through it. So, but I would tell you the thing that I liked the most right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·06:31

To give a little bit of a, a pro tip is if you’re trying to guide the user on a customer journey, maybe from a special or something like that, like if you’re running a radio ad or TV ad or something like that, you might not have that on your home page. Right, right. On your homepage, it might be a special landing page or something like that. So you can use ad words to guide them to that offer. So the offer matches whatever ad you’re running. And I think that’s the best use case in which I’ve seen Brandon work. There are certainly a lot of other use cases and let’s get into it. So, 

speakerChris Burres·07:11

Yeah. Well, and you mentioned that it’s expensive to bid on somebody else’s name, what I want to kind of explain that further. Meaning the per click price is actually going to be pretty low. Right. But when we think about the overall expense of a campaign, it’s hard to convert somebody, right? Like, so if you’re going to selling Chevy trucks and you’re trying to bid on Ford trucks to convince a Ford consumer to switch over to a Chevy, like it’s a virtually insurmountable process now, 

speakerMatt Bertram·07:46

Before down the funnel or down the funnel, they’ve there, they’ve already selected their brand. Right. So you want to catch them a little bit higher on the unbranded side of things. Yeah. I mean, but I, I see people bidding on other people’s names all the time, you know? So I mean, 

speakerChris Burres·08:05

And it certainly, in terms of paid ads, one of the least cost-effective ways, again, bid price may be low, but the actual opportunity to convert them into a customer is also actually even lower. So it’s not a preferred strategy. 

speakerMatt Bertram·08:23

Yeah. I mean, I think what’s interesting is if you’re doing like local campaigns on Google, you know, it might make sense if you’re not showing up in the three pack to be able to help guide people into your store. So you can track cost per store visit. And potentially if someone’s searching for a competitor and they’re looking to get that to that location and you sell something comparable, there might be opportunity there. Right. If they’re searching for another location, you have a location nearby, Hey, why don’t you come check out our prices? Right? Like, I mean, again, you’ve got to think through whatever it is you’re trying to do with your marketing dollars. And you have a lot of flexibility with digital, right? So if you run a print ad, you run a radio ad, you run a TV ad. 

speakerMatt Bertram·09:15

Like you buy the spots, you have that and you run it. And like, it is what it is, right? Like with digital looking at the data, you can see what’s happening, you can make changes, you know, you can do different things. That test and measure that you talked about before is really, I think one of the biggest advantages almost you want to maybe do digital first, see how you can perfect the messaging and then go spend the money on traditional ad dollars. Right? Like, so again, I mean, I like this topic is really interesting. You know, one of the things that also Google is looking for that they don’t give you an organic data is what people are doing once they come to the website. And so, but you can pay for that through ad-words right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·10:05

And through branded traffic, you can start getting that data set to be able to decide how people are interacting with your site a little bit better versus that, you know, non-disclosed like category or whatever. And, and I think it’s really important to understand how people that are familiar with your brand are interacting with your website versus say, cold traffic, right? Like those people are gonna interact very differently. And if you’re trying to track that, I think it’s a really great kind of subset to bid on your name. So, 

speakerChris Burres·10:40

Yeah. And you covered what is a little bit of what Corey said, if you’re not ranking number one organically for your brand, or you’re not in the top of the map pack, first off, you probably need to have a conversation with your marketing company, your digital marketing company, because that should be something that’s happening and you need to fix that right away. The way to fix it. One way to fix it immediately is to run paid ads that are branded paid ads. So do your keyword research specifically looking for volume, want to watch volume trends like, and it’s a great way to keep track of the value of your traditional marketing has to understand, okay. If my branded traffic is going up, then I know those ads that I’m running, those billboards that I’m doing are actually working. It’s, it’s really it. 

speakerChris Burres·11:26

I couldn’t agree more with Corey that you’ve got to separate these two components, not branded versus branded. 

speakerMatt Bertram·11:32

So, so you know that you bring up an interesting point, right? So running traditional ads help with your branded search volume, right? And also Google, if you listen to one of our old podcasts where we interviewed somebody straight out of Google, basically Google is looking for that Google we know loves brands. So basically it, more people are searching for you by name, Google’s going to carry more weight to show you, right? Like even at the suggested searches at the bottom of the page, we have some clients that get so many searches that they’re now showing up at the bottom of the page. Okay. Also, I’ve seen a, we have a client that’s spending like a million dollars, like a quarter I think on radio. Right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·12:16

And so actually they might be spending more than that, but anyways, based on when the radio ads play in what markets, I can see the uplift in branded searches. And so it creates another metric that you can measure. And, and also it kind of provides that branded searches that Google likes to see. So it helps lift you up in the organic ranking. So a lot of these kind of omni-channel marketing strategies play on each other and you get kind of a multiplier effect. So yeah, 

speakerChris Burres·12:51

Yeah, absolutely. So that was one targeting and focus. Number two is brand cannibalization and conflicts that is hard benchmark your paid and organic search numbers for branded traffic. This is what I was just talking about. You want to have that understanding of where you’re starting today and then where you’re going as you move forward. If you decide to start bidding on branded terms in paid search, be conscious of how any increase in branded paid traffic impacts organic traffic. If both go up great, maybe dive into deeper, what’s the logic going on there? How can I take advantage of that? If turning on branded paid search account results and a relative decrease in organic traffic, take a closer look. And we used to have conversations regularly about what’s the value of bidding on your brand. It depends. 

speakerChris Burres·13:45

One of the things that it depends on is how big your brand is, right? So you look at and what kind of credibility, because it used to be the case and, you know, the source has changed. But I remember this case study, were looking at where, when you started running paid ads on your brand, you actually had an uptick in your click through rate on your organic. And the logic was that it was a credibility issue. It was kind of co-sign. Cause at the time my brother-in-law was a pretty high up at toys R us. And when you search for a bicycle, whether toys R us paid for an ad, or whether they didn’t the click-through rate on the organic and the combined organic and paid never changed. 

speakerChris Burres·14:28

So with a lesser brand, seeing the name multiple times increases the credibility with a well-known brand. It really didn’t matter. Although you definitely want to take up that space. Like that’s the argument that we would ultimately make. 

speakerMatt Bertram·14:41

Yeah. I mean, you know, the data’s changing a little bit, but right. Organic has a lot more trust associated with it. And a lot more people kind of go the ads and skip the ads and then go down to the top organic listings. And so they have to go pass that. Well, if you’re showing up in the ads and they’re not an ad clicker, right. Cause there’s very little overlap of people that click on ads and people that click on organic, they see your brand, you might show up in the maps, they see your brand. And then, you know, of course, mobile and desktop, if they’re on desktop, they’re going to go down to those national search terms. And now you’ve shown up twice right before they’ve even found it. And then you’re at the top of the rankings. 

speakerMatt Bertram·15:22

You’re much higher likelihood to get a click. Now I have seen on like local searches where you’re utilizing some machine learning where you don’t have as much control, you know, but they’ll bid on branded terms as well as unbranded terms. And you’re you I’m seeing uplift. Right? So, so again, you know, it’s a case by case basis. And I, of course it does depend, but a lot of times I am seeing the benefit of having a small portion of your budget towards brand new traffic. Right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·15:55

And, and especially, I think the one point you hit on more than anything else is if you’re not organically showing up in the maps and in national search for your own name, or you have a name that includes maybe keywords that other people are ranking for, and you’re not showing up for your own name, you’re going to miss on traffic of people that you’ve generated that lead some other place, you know, and you want to make sure you get that lead. So you’re going to need to spend a couple cents to bid on your name, right. Or, or that portion of your name that is different from maybe industry-based terms maybe like, oh, I don’t know, office furniture or home remodeling company, like whatever your modifier is of your name. 

speakerMatt Bertram·16:40

If that’s included in, in, in how you call yourself, you might want to just bid on that component, especially if you’re not ranking yet. And I see that a lot in like home services, not a lot of people are ranking for their name, Yelp or TripAdvisor or not TripAdvisor, but home advisor or places like that, those web 2.0 are ranking above them. And you know, like you get them into a home advisor. I don’t know if you’ve lost that lead or not. Right. So it might make sense to do it in that case. So, 

speakerChris Burres·17:14

Absolutely. All right. Number three, distributors, resellers and other partners. The money question is always what is driving our results, right? Ewre what results the hope. So should we care about the brand? What we just get that traffic by default and, you know, the hope is yes, that you’ll get the traffic by default. The reality is no, we’ve got multiple incidences where we’ve outranked the manufacturer, we’ve outranked the local distributor. And so there is no guarantee that you’re going to show up first, say, you’re their manufacturer that sells. And also through distribution partnerships or retailers, you’ve already have a sensitive relationship. 

speakerChris Burres·17:55

So this is where, like the whole, you’ve got to look at the whole picture, not just part of the picture, but the whole picture, because you can actually earn your distributors and your resellers, if you outrank them and you sell on your website. 

speakerMatt Bertram·18:12

So Chris, I had a, a franchisee that basically there was huge search volume for the main site, right. The main side or the franchise. Right. And he owned a couple locations. Right. And we got them ranking above the franchise. Right. So usually it goes to the franchise, it goes to maybe their location page. And then that sends you the lead. Right. And I got him ranking above the manufacturer for that keyword and not only in his geographic area, but outside his geographic area. And he was allowed to get leads from outside his area, as long as he wasn’t like, you know, aggressively marketing to. 

speakerChris Burres·19:00


speakerMatt Bertram·19:01

Something like that. Right. But he started getting in trouble with the franchisees, were reporting him to the franchise that he was showing up above them, in their search areas and above them also. And I don’t know, it was kind of comical. Like those are the kinds of problems I think you want to have. Right. 

speakerChris Burres·19:22

If I recall, it may have been a different gauge. That was a situation where the, the main, the parent company came back and was trying to say, Hey, stop doing what you’re doing, which was really dumb because they should’ve said, Hey, what are you doing? Cause we should also be doing that. 

speakerMatt Bertram·19:39

Well, so that was the funny thing. Right. And so this was like a hair salon place, like a national hero salon place. You can probably figure it out, you know, but essentially the corporate office are calling me, asking me what I’m doing. Right. And like, so I started telling him stuff and I’m like, why don’t you just hire us? Right. Like I thought that like it opened the door though, at least that conversation of like, Hey, well, you know, we’re doing this. Why, why don’t we do it for you for all your stores. Right. And, you know, I, I think that like I gave him just enough. Right. And they went off and ran with it and didn’t hear from him again. 

speakerMatt Bertram·20:24

But they certainly didn’t bug my client, you know, that our client, the franchisee, you know, and he was buying up a bunch of stores in Texas or location franchises in Texas, but it was quite hilarious. And we’ve done that with a few other clients as well, where we’re starting to kind of outrank the main and you know, of course when you start SEO, you’re looking at search volume, you’re looking at how you can get conversions. And if you don’t have any regulations on territory, like, right. You’re just, you know, a distributor or vendor or whatever, that’s a great strategy in my opinion. Right? Like have them buy through you because you know what the manufacturer is doing as well. They’re trying to get those leads so they don’t have to pay your cut right. Or whatever. 

speakerMatt Bertram·21:14

Like, so it just depends on what side of the fence you’re on. But you know, if there’s a big pool of branded terms, you got to figure out what’s the business strategy and then how best to attack that. Right. 

speakerChris Burres·21:27

And I can share again, if you’ve got your own resellers and distributors out there, and they’ve got their price points that you want them to hold, I’m going to share a strategy that we’ve used. The strategy is, Hey, we’ve got a price that’s for, Hey, you want to buy one bottle. If you get it on subscription, you can have a savings. And we allow our distributors to sell at the subscription price. So if their customers come to us and they want just one bottle, then they’ve got to pay the higher price. And so it puts it in our kind of pretty flexible situation where they can have a lower price than the list price that’s on the manufacturers website. So there’s strategy. 

speakerChris Burres·22:07

And that’s why I say, it’s a whole, you got to look at the strategy as a whole, not just like, Hey, we should turn this on or off. 

speakerMatt Bertram·22:14

Yeah. I mean, I, it really comes down to the business situation and all the different factors that come into it. I think it’s just important to understand how branded search plays into it. Right. And, and also that is one of the metrics that some of the enterprise level clients are looking at. Like where’s the growth in our branded footprint, like our digital footprint online. And that’s what they’re really trying to get to because that’s when they know they own the customer. Right. But so there’s so many different scenarios and you have to really look at it on a case-by-case basis from a business standpoint of what’s best because I’ve, there’s really positive environments that we’ve seen of what they’re dealing with and then really negative environments and, you know, people doing all kinds of crazy stuff for leads and other markets. 

speakerMatt Bertram·23:04

And it’s not always as a amenable situation as it is with you, Chris, and you just got to evaluate it on a case by case basis what you’re trying to do, and then really understand how does branded fit into it. It’s just like a different tool in the tool belt. 

speakerChris Burres·23:19

Yeah. Yeah. So, well, and again, looking at this is the next point Corey made the fact that you may have distributors and resellers out there means that you need to be tracking your brand and phrases in reach local regions, right. So it’s not just, Hey, what’s the brand search like what’s happening there because maybe one of your, in the case of a franchise, maybe your, one of your franchisees is doing some pretty awesome stuff. That’s traditional marketing, you know, let’s just say their signs spinning and your brand searches go way up in their territory. You want to go have a conversation with them and going, Hey, what are you doing? Cause this could be applicable to all of our other franchisors. And, and if it’s as simple as, you know, science spinning, then great, like implement that immediately. 

speakerMatt Bertram·24:09


speakerChris Burres·24:10

Alright. And then, so next, the fourth point, and this is kind of branded versus non-branded is attribution, branded searches are driven by brand awareness, marketing sales, referrals, reputation signed, spanning that wasn’t on there factors of control of each marketer and a content strategist. And he makes the point that even sometimes the generic phrase. So if you’re selling suntan lotion, that phrase, the search box is going to go up and down is out of your control. But it’s really important to split out the brand versus non-brand terms in your rankings so that you understand the impressions, the traffic conversions from those different things. And you talked about this earlier, Matt, there’s nothing worse than rolling up all search data into a single report and later realizing how much of that was brand versus non-brand. 

speakerChris Burres·25:02

And this is one of our conversations we have with our customers regularly. 

speakerMatt Bertram·25:06

Well, so the thing that you triggered in my memory is something that I’ve seen a lot of other agencies do. And if you’re a small business owner out there, or even somebody at an enterprise level company, this might be something to pay attention to. A lot of times, they give you very narrow data and they show your cost per conversion. Right. And, and what they do a lot of times is they combine branded and non-branded traffic together. Right? And so then that number looks way better, way lower, because it’s a blended number. It’s not, here’s your, here’s how we’re how much it takes to convert cold traffic. But of course, you’re going to have a much higher rate on branded traffic. And so I think it’s really important to parse those out. 

speakerMatt Bertram·25:55

When you’re talking about attribution, I talked about it a little bit earlier, but those people are also going to interact with the site differently. And so it’s really important to understand again, where you’re trying to take them what you’re trying to do, because right. If you’re trying to get people in that are new and you’re trying to drive them through whatever funnel you’ve built online, and then you have a different branded customer, that’s just looking for the portal, right? You want to make that really easy to redirect them to maybe a different location. And again, you know, branded versus unbranded on the attribution side of things, there’s a lot of different things that you can do. And I’m gonna start saying, and a lot, because I’m going to have to put this together in my head. 

speakerMatt Bertram·26:46

So we’ll just skip that part. 

speakerChris Burres·26:50

Yes. We’ve got to it out and skip the end and arms go ahead. So, so kind of in conclusion, one of them is one of the conclusions is we are big believers first, the test and measure great advice from Corey and second, like run, paid ads on your brand. And there’s like, there’s reasons you can know that they’re bidding on your name. Right? Cause you can actually see the keyword and you can control the experience. You mentioned Matt, maybe there’s a, maybe you’re running a special while you can control people and send people to that special right away. And then yeah. Understand the attribution so that you can contract and adjust. 

speakerMatt Bertram·27:35

Yeah. I mean, controlling the experience, you could put a landing page on a sub domain or something like that, especially when you’re running a special, that reminds me, we had a, a jacuzzi seller that I think it was like a 4th of July special or something like that. I think we sold 14 jacuzzis in one day and it wasn’t running them to their regular site, which was more of an informational site. It was a landing page with a timer and there was some things to create scarcity and, you know, testimonials and you know, again, a lot of these things can be combined with SEO. I’ve seen a lot of people start to build like reverse. What are they called? Reverse navigation bars, where the navigation is at the bottom. So when they land on the page, what are they doing once they get there? 

speakerMatt Bertram·28:27

And I think that it’s really important that if you’re going to even go after an SEO term, this is something we haven’t talked about. Is, is that the right keyword, right? If you’re not totally clear on what the commercial intent is of what the keyword is, you can tell a lot of times by what the cost is of the CPC using some of the third-party tools out there to, or even Google ad-words planner. Now Google AdWords planner only gives you P where there’s a market, right? Where people are bidding. If people are not bidding on a keyword, there’s a lot of great opportunities that you can find and bid on and not spend a lot of money. 

speakerMatt Bertram·29:04

And going after these kind of longer tail key phrases and find little pools of great places to bid where they, the keywords might be difficult, where it makes more sense to bid on them, right? So you have to look at the difficulty of the keywords to understand, should I be bidding on this keyword? Should I not? But also if you’re going to spend money on a campaign, you got to decide, you know, like, is there enough search volume to bid on it? What is that price of it? And then if you don’t know, you might want to bid on it first to see if it’s the right kind of traffic before you go invest a bunch of time and money into say SEO campaign. And so where you’re finding them in the funnel, Google calls it micro-moments where is it at that customer journey? 

speakerMatt Bertram·29:50

And that’s a great place to hit people with ads, come into their conversation, that’s going on in their head about whatever product or services happening and you know, the higher up the funnel, the better. But again, the more un-targeted it is the higher up you go and the more of a chance you’re going to lose them. And then that’s why you have to start building in remarketing in some of these other strategies to pull them all the way through the funnel, because really the data point is, you know, what is it? 95% or 97% of people come your website leave and never come back again. If you’re spending like, I mean, we have some clients that are spending over a hundred dollars a click to get that visitor, to come to the site. 

speakerMatt Bertram·30:32

If you’re not doing everything you can, once they’re there to convert them or to build your brand, to maybe convert them later down the road, then you know, you can throw away a lot of money really quickly. And, and so branded campaigns, again, a tool in the tool belt, but you want to know what is the use case for it and how to incorporate that into a omni-channel strategy. So. 

speakerChris Burres·30:57

I think that’s a great summary. Absolutely. So put TIFF to Corey, like great article kind of covering branded versus non-branded. We haven’t touched on that in a while it again, we’re going to ask you to do one small favor, go to AWR, Leave us a review. We haven’t, I’m going to be honest. We haven’t had a review at that spot in like five months. So help us out there. If you’re getting value from this podcast in anything else to wrap up Matt until the next podcast. My name is Chris Burres. 

speakerMatt Bertram·31:28

My name is Matt Bertram. 

speakerChris Burres·31:29

Bye-bye for now. 

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