Bidding On Brand Keywords: Why You Should or Shouldn’t (With A Client Example)

Blake John

Every click counts in the competitive world of search engine marketing. That’s especially true when users are searching for your brand name, but should you be paying for those branded clicks? It’s a complicated question that requires a bit of research and careful consideration. This article dives into the crucial details you should consider when asking yourself if bidding on branded keywords is the right strategy for your business.

Starting With Some Basics

Before we jump into the nitty gritty, let’s start by clarifying some important information that will ensure we’re all on the same page.

What Are Branded Keywords?

Branded keywords are any search terms that include your brand name. This could simply be your company name itself (e.g. “Acme Co”), or a combination like “[your brand name] + [product/service]” (e.g. “acme tours”).

They differ from non-branded keywords, which are broader search terms related to your industry but don’t mention your brand specifically (e.g. “group tours”).

What Does It Mean To Bid On Your Brand Name?

Bidding on branded keywords means allocating your advertising budget to ensure your paid search ads appear in search results when users include your brand name in their query. As with every pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, you’ll pay a certain amount every time a user clicks on your branded paid search ad.

Why Would You Want To Bid On Your Brand Name?

  • Combatting the Competition: If your competitors are already bidding on your brand terms, it can push your organic listing down the search engine results page (SERP). This can result in confused customers and a loss in branded traffic. By bidding on your brand name, you reclaim control and ensure users find your official website first.
  • Boosting Brand Visibility: A crowded SERP can make it hard for users to spot your organic listing. Bidding allows you to secure multiple spots on the page, maximizing your brand’s real estate and increasing the chances of users clicking on your listing.
  • Promoting Special Offers & New Products: Branded campaigns are perfect for highlighting special promotions, new product launches, or upcoming events. Include these details in your ad copy to grab the user’s attention and drive traffic toward your latest offerings.

Why You Might NOT Want To Bid On Your Brand Name

While bidding on your brand name offers several benefits, there are situations where it might not be the best use of your resources:

  • Uncontested Brand SERP: If no competitors are bidding on your brand terms, and your organic listing is consistently in the #1 position, then spending precious marketing dollars on branded search ads might not be necessary.
  • Limited Budget Considerations: Search advertising can be an expensive game to play, and bidding on branded keywords may not be the best use of your budget. To make the most of your advertising dollars, it may be wiser to prioritize non-branded queries with high search volume and transactional intent.

The Two Sides of the Coin: Advantages & Disadvantages

Bidding on your brand name comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages to consider:


  • Control the Message: Craft clear and targeted ad copy to shape user perception and highlight your brand’s unique selling points. You may be able to do some of this with the title tag and meta description on your organic listing, but oftentimes this precious real estate is carefully crafted to target high-value search terms.
  • Dominate the SERP: Increase your brand’s presence by securing multiple spots at the top of the search results. This is arguably the biggest advantage: more listings means more touchpoints and increased chances of earning the click.
  • Discourage Competitors From Bidding On Your Brand: By actively bidding on your brand terms, you make it less attractive for competitors to do the same. On the flip side, if competitors see that nobody is actively bidding on your brand, they may see it as a quick and easy way to siphon valuable traffic.


  • Paying for Clicks You Would Have Likely Earned Anyway: Clicks on your branded ads still cost money, even though users were likely to click on your organic listing anyway. Depending on brand demand and market size, this could cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each month.
  • Cannibalizing Organic Traffic: Branded ads will lead users to click on the ad instead of the free organic listing simply because it’s on the top of the SERP. This may make it appear as though there’s been a decline in organic performance. The reality is that the marketing mix has changed and the total sum of clicks is being divided by two marketing channels.

Real-World Example with Data

Believe it or not, we often have to ask ourselves if we should bid on our client’s brand name. As we’ve discussed above, the answer isn’t always straightforward. In fact, we’ve even run some extensive tests to understand whether or not bidding on branded terms was worth it for some clients.

The data below is from a travel and tourism business with an extremely strong brand within their market. Unfortunately, they still deal with a very crowded brand SERP that includes competitors and occasionally Things To Do ads.

The chart below shows a trendline of total branded search click-through rate (PPC + SEO). We combined branded organic clicks and paid search clicks and divided them by total branded impressions to get a complete CTR picture.

As you can see below, we began our test in October 2023. During this month we completely turned off branded ads while also asking a key online travel agency (OTA) partner to stop bidding on our brand.

We saw a notable decline in total CTR directly after turning the branded search ads off which somewhat correlated with seasonal trends. However, we were seeing a considerable increase in organic branded search clicks. This trend continued for a couple more months while we gathered the data.

During this time, the question we had to answer was: is the reduction in branded paid ad spend offset by the increase in organic clicks despite a drop off in total click share? We weren’t convinced that it was.

As a result, we re-enabled branded ads in February of 2024 where we saw a shocking increase in total brand search CTR that outperformed any of the previous months. Incredibly, that CTR sustained over the next two months as well.

We’ve been dominating this client’s branded SERP ever since, and we continue to bid on their brand name with great success.

To be clear: This data showed that when we bid on the client’s branded keywords, we were receiving a net positive number of clicks, and earning a greater share of the clicks. This was not simply a matter of paying for clicks we would have received anyway.

The Verdict: Should You Bid on Your Brand Name?

Ultimately, the decision to bid on your brand name hinges on many of the factors discussed above along with some kind of cost-benefit analysis. That said, the general consensus leans toward, yes, you probably should bid on your own brand.

Before you make the decision, though, consider your competitive landscape, brand awareness, and budget constraints. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Competitors Are Bidding On My Brand: If this is true for you, we almost always recommend bidding on your brand to ensure you have the utmost visibility to protect your brand image and control the message.
  • Limited budget with a strong brand: Focus on non-branded keywords with transactional intent to reach a larger audience and improve marketing performance elsewhere.
  • Launching a new product or running a special offer: Branded keyword campaigns can be a strategic tool to drive targeted traffic to your offering.

Remember, the goal is to maximize your return on investment. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, you can determine if bidding on your brand name is the right move to elevate your online presence and achieve your marketing goals.

Is your advertising providing a solid return on investment?

We’ve managed advertising for tour, activity, and attraction companies for years, and we’d love to discuss how we can help grow your revenue. Whenever you’re ready, let’s chat.

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About The Author

Blake John

With a passion for developing strategic SEO campaigns, Blake has helped business owners of various verticals grow their digital presence since 2016. When he's away from the keyboard, he enjoys spending time with his son and playing disc golf with friends.

Email Blake

About The Author

Blake John

With a passion for developing strategic SEO campaigns, Blake has helped business owners of various verticals grow their digital presence since 2016. When he's away from the keyboard, he enjoys spending time with his son and playing disc golf with friends.