When people search for queries that contain your brand name, it’s a strong indication of their interest.
In many cases, all you need to do is make it easy for them to interact with your online channels.
Unfortunately, businesses often don’t pay much attention to optimizing their website for branded keywords.
Read on to learn why this is a mistake, and how to incorporate a branded keyword strategy into your SEO and content marketing.
What are branded keywords?
Branded keywords are keywords that are associated specifically with your brand. They contain your brand name, the name of one of your products or services, the name of the CEO, or even the name of an employee. Company slogans or new terms you have coined can also fall under branded keywords.
Branded keywords can be among the most valuable keywords for your website to rank for, and the monthly search volume and traffic numbers for certain branded keywords can also represent your overall brand awareness trends.
Why focusing on branded keywords is important
Branded keywords are important because people using these search terms are specifically looking for information about your brand. They are already familiar with your brand, and want to know if your website offers information about a certain topic.
These keywords tend to be easy to rank for if you are the brand.
Despite this, branded keywords are often undervalued or even overlooked in SEO and content strategies.
There is often an assumption that the website will naturally rank for all of the branded keywords, so SEO optimization for these keywords is not prioritized.
Automatic rankings may be happening for the most generic of branded keywords such as just [your brand name], or [your brand name] + [your phone number], but there are many types of branded keywords you won’t rank for automatically.
And if you don’t, a different website – or even worse, your competitor – will.
Types of branded keywords
Like any keyword, branded keywords can be categorized into the four types of keywords: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional.
Let’s take a look at examples of each type of keyword.
Informational branded keywords
Informational branded keywords are used to find an answer to a question.
The searcher is already familiar with your brand, and wants to know if there is content on your website that answers their question.
Examples of informational branded keywords:
- Types of mortgages investopedia
- Forbes what is the banking crisis
- Hubspot lead scoring
These types of search queries are often not directly related to your brand, but the searcher associates your brand with this topic and wants to see if your website has information about it.
Perhaps the best example of this is when people add “reddit” to their search query, because they are specifically looking for opinions of other people.
If you are not ranking for your informational branded keywords, you are not serving your audience the information they associate with your brand or there is a mismatch between brand messaging and customer expectations.
Navigational branded keywords
Navigational branded keywords are used to find a specific page on your website.
Examples of navigational branded keywords:
- HuffPost money section
- HuffPost contact information
Many searchers using these keywords are already familiar with the website (i.e. they know that HuffPost has a section called “money”).
Others will assume the website has a contact page, because most websites do.
Sometimes this is just a quicker way for the searcher to get to their desired destination, instead of navigating through your website to find the section they are looking for.
Your website will likely rank automatically for most navigational branded keywords, but it’s still worth checking whether or not you’re ranking for all of the important ones.
Commercial branded keywords
Commercial branded keywords are those keywords searchers use when they have a clear interest in your products or services and are considering buying.
Examples of commercial branded keywords:
- iPhone vs samsung galaxy
- Netflix alternatives
- Microsoft word download
Commercial keywords are highly valuable, as the searcher is close to making a buying decision.
They are considering you, but might not be fully convinced yet.
Your competitors know this too, and will try to target these keywords to steer the audience towards their solution.
Getting the searchers for these keywords on to your website is half the battle. It’s a huge missed opportunity if your competitors are writing content that targets these keywords, but you are not.
Transactional branded keywords
Transactional branded keywords are keywords with a very strong buyer intent.
Examples of transactional branded keywords:
- Buy allianz travel insurance
- Subscribe to microsoft office
- Planet fitness membership
People searching for these keywords have made up their minds and are ready to buy from you.
The most important thing to do for your pages targeting transactional keywords is to make it as easy as possible to buy.
You can still lose the buyer if your page is hard or confusing to use.
How do you identify branded keywords?
There are several tools you can use to identify branded keywords.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console can surface great branded keyword ideas, especially if your website has been around for a long time and a lot of data has been gathered.
Use a query filter for your brand name, and a position filter of greater than 10 to show only those keywords that contain your brand name and currently rank on page 2 or lower.
Client identifying data blacked out
Sort the data by highest impressions and analyze the most promising branded keywords.
What you will often see here is that Google can’t find a great page on your website that meets the search intent of this keyword.
They end up ranking the next best page for the keyword and place it somewhere down the search results on page 2, 3, or even lower.
These are excellent branded keyword opportunities you can publish a dedicated page for, which Google will very likely pick up and rank higher than the current page it has chosen.
Google autocomplete can be a great source to identify branded keywords you may not have thought of before.
Type in [brand name] + a letter of the alphabet to get branded keyword ideas.
Go through each letter of the alphabet (or even a combination of 2-3 letters) to get more branded keyword ideas.
These keywords are likely already covered on your website, but you may just find that one hidden gem.
AnswerThePublic is a tool that provides data similar to Google autocomplete.
Type in your brand name and the tool will give you question based keywords, preposition based keywords, and comparison keywords related to your brand.
It also provides alphabetical lists of keywords:
The tool has a free version that gives you three free searches per day, and a paid version with several tiers that gives you more searches (and even unlimited searches based on the tier).
Examples of good branded keyword strategies
So, what does a good branded keyword SEO strategy look like in practice?
Here are three examples of websites that have nailed it.
Square provides payment solutions for small businesses. They do a great job at targeting commercial branded keywords in particular.
Here is an example of a page targeting the commercial keyword “square vs stripe”.
Not only does Square capture searchers for its own branded keywords, they also eat away at Stripe’s branded keywords as Stripe does not have a comparison page like this.
It doesn’t stop there, as Square has a total of 37 comparison pages driving over 7,000 monthly organic visitors to the website.
This is a great example of owning your commercial branded keywords and capturing highly valuable SEO traffic.
HubSpot is one of the most popular CRM platforms.
Here’s a snapshot of the branded keywords they rank for:
This list of keywords contains keywords from every category mentioned.
They have similar comparison pages to what Square has, and have also added dedicated industry pages to target relevant keywords like “hubspot for startups”, “hubspot for nonprofits”, and “hubspot for agencies”.
HubSpot’s brand awareness is so broad that people are searching for a very wide range of branded keywords, with over 3,500 keywords reported by Ahrefs alone.
Having pages that meet the search intent of every valuable keyword is a great way to get website visitors who are interested in the company’s offerings.
Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) SaaS company.
They rank for almost 20,000 branded keywords containing the word “salesforce” according to Ahrefs, and there are thousands more that are related to the specific features of their software.
Because the platform has such a large user base and is highly customizable by developers, there are a lot of informational and navigational branded searches related to their solutions.
Salesforce captures a lot of this traffic through their Trailblazer Community section.
The user generated content in this section captures over 25,000 organic clicks per month according to Ahrefs, of which a lot comes from very specific long-tail keywords.
For Salesforce, serving content around all of these specific questions not only drives SEO traffic, but is likely just as important for customer retention.
Get started with your own branded keyword strategy
You can start identifying your branded keywords today, using the free tools outlined above.
At SERP Builders, we include branded keyword research in our SEO and content marketing campaigns.
We point out content opportunities and help produce content that targets your branded keywords, allowing you to own the SERPs related to your brand.