Branded Search: What Do Pepsi, Domino’s & Facebook Have in Common

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Stephanie Trovato
Stephanie Trovato

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Branded keywords have the highest click-through rate of any type of keyword in existence. And yet, these search terms often receive the least attention.

customer using branded search to shop online

“They’re our company’s own words! Why would we need to pay attention to them?”

Well, there are more reasons than you think.

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In this article, we’ll define branded search and break down the benefits of targeting your strategy. Then we’ll identify factors that affect branded search and strategies you can use to take advantage of these “freebie” keywords.

Finally, we’ll take a look at what Pepsi, Domino’s, and Facebook have in common.

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Explicit branded searches refer to those where the user is literally searching for the brand term in their query. If they’re searching “Hubspot CRM” or “Disneyland tickets,” they’re conducting an explicit brand search.

Another type of search is implicit, which refers to searches where the user’s intent and the user search terms aren’t quite as obviously aligned. While some might argue there’s no such thing as a branded implicit search, it could describe when a person is seeking a specific brand’s site or product but doesn’t quite recall the name.

For example, “mouse amusement park” is certainly geared toward a specific brand, despite the lack of explicit brand terms. However, generally branded search refers to explicit branded search that contains branded terms in the query.

Lastly, non-branded keywords are words or phrases that do not include your brand name. They help you gain new customers who may be searching for what you offer but do not know it yet.

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Benefits of Branded Search

Sometimes branded search gets overlooked by marketers because it seems easy to succeed.

If a person is searching your brand, why wouldn’t you be the #1 search result? However, there are a few benefits of pouring specific marketing efforts toward branded search.

  1. Higher click-through rates. Branded searches are generally high-intent because a user is searching specifically for your product or service. This leads to branded search terms having higher click-through rates than other types of keywords.
  2. Reinforced brand loyalty. Searching a brand term (implicitly or explicitly) reinforces a customer’s connection to your brand.
  3. Control over search results. Ranking well for your own brand terms gives your business some control over the search results. While you can’t control your placement for high-traffic keywords, you can squarely invest in ensuring that you rank well for your branded keywords.

Daniel Male, a strategic marketing consultant for agencies, provided some insight on another key benefit: traffic control.

“From an SEO strategy standpoint, the primary benefit of branded search is that you can drive people who have expressed interest in learning about or engaging with your brand to the website (and webpages) that you want them to land on."

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    Factors That Influence Branded Search

    While branded search is hugely beneficial for your brand, many outside factors impact the frequency of this type of search. You can’t control these factors quite as easily as you can control other components of search engine optimization. However, with an awareness of these factors, you can aim your marketing efforts in the direction of branded search growth.

    Brand Awareness

    A major factor that impacts branded search frequency is brand awareness. To be the subject of a branded search, you need to have been present in their mind prior to them sitting down to the search engine. This requires brand awareness, which takes time to build. Word of mouth, social media, PPC ads, and more all play a role in the growth of your brand awareness.

    Brand Reputation

    While users need to be aware of your brand, they also need to find you reputable. No one is searching for brands they don’t trust. As is the case with brand awareness, building a positive reputation can come from quite a few avenues. Testimonials, reviews, influencer marketing, and word of mouth all play a role in reputation growth.

    Backlinks, or offsite SEO, also play a role in developing your brand’s reputation. While backlinking is a great way to get your name out there, the Google algorithm finds optimized offsite SEO to be an indication of authority.

    Greg Heilers of Jolly SEO, a business specializing in link building, had some wisdom to share about branded search. He suggested pursuing journalists, marketers, and publishers of high-authority publications to bolster your branded search campaign and build reputability.

    “If you don‘t get a backlink from your outreach, don’t fret; even an unlinked mention from a highly reputable domain is a huge win for driving branded search.”

    Customer Experience

    Once users are engaging with your brand, they need to have a positive customer experience. A poor customer experience diminishes brand reputation, while a positive experience can grow it. Often, branded searchers are repeat buyers who know exactly how quality their experience was with you the first time around. Be sure you’re providing a consistently positive customer experience.

    Offline Marketing Efforts

    Offline marketing relates to all of the above factors. Strategies beyond the digital space, as discussed above, play a huge role in the likelihood of consistent branded searching. Word of mouth, billboards, print ads, and more contribute to online digital search.

    Branded Search Optimization Strategies

    While there are a lot of factors that impact branded search, there are certainly SEO strategies that can play a role in your company’s success.

    Keyword Optimization

    It can feel redundant or unnecessary to bid on your own branded terms. However, it can have a substantial positive effect on your branded search success. In addition to incorporating branded terms into your website and ad copy, bidding on the keywords helps ensure you stay at the top of SERPs.

    Local SEO

    A big component of succeeding in branded search is making sure you’re providing direction to relevant site links. That means if someone searches “Domino's pizza,” the website is set up to pull up the page for the Dominoes nearest to them. For businesses where location is an important part of their presence, local SEO is a must-have.

    Website Optimization

    To prepare your website to be found by branded searches, make sure your site is set up to attract branded visitors. You’ll want to incorporate branded terms into headlines and crossheads to make it easy for a branded searcher to locate your site.

    Additionally, good website optimization improves overall page rank for a variety of keywords, which can develop brand awareness.

    Content Creation

    Content creation on your website and other platforms helps to increase brand awareness and reputation. Additionally, it can drive branded searchers toward your company’s desired action. Daniel Male had some expert advice on making the most of content creation in relation to branded search.

    “It’s a good idea to have a content strategy that separates your content into a traditional customer journey. Create upper funnel content, mid-funnel content, and lower funnel content, as well as retention content, to move your customers down the funnel.”

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      Branded Search Examples

      Many brands have successful branded search campaigns. However, there are a handful of companies that have an above-and-beyond strategy that results in branded searches that can’t be outdone.

      1. Coca-Cola

      branded search example, Coca-Cola

      Image Source

      Coca-Cola is a well-known soda brand that’s had significant success in the branded search space. Why? Well, it’s a household name with a cult-like following. When we consider the factors that make a good branded search campaign, Coke checks the boxes. They have:

      • Extremely high level of brand awareness
      • Positive brand reputation
      • A great customer experience
      • Extensive offline marketing efforts

      Coke also makes great use of keyword optimization. Users can search “Coke,” “Coca-Cola,” and any other number of branded terms to find Coca-Cola’s main page. The brand has also made it easy to locate Coca-Cola near you with great local SEO.

      2. Pepsi

      branded search example, Pepsi

      Image Source

      Coke’s mega competitor, Pepsi, has also seen great success in branded search. The two products are, all things considered, fairly similar, but brand differentiation has resulted in competitive product users. Who hasn’t argued over Coke versus Pepsi?

      That’s epic brand awareness building. Both Pepsi and Coke are household names and, therefore, check some important branded search boxes.

      Pepsi also uses celebrities in ads, which can appeal to younger audiences and increase their brand’s reputation. These content creation strategies help even more to differentiate the brand and drive branded search success.

      3. Facebook

      branded search example, Facebook

      Image Source

      Facebook has seen a different path to branded search success. In many ways, Facebook is a product unlike any other, so it has few other competitors for users seeking to connect with friends virtually. The social media’s uniqueness has established a significant level of brand awareness, despite dings in brand reputation over the past several years.

      Additionally, Facebook has never poured resources into offline marketing efforts but has grown into a household name that users are globally familiar with. This level of familiarity has been Facebook’s success when it comes to branded search.

      4. Domino’s

      branded search example, Domino’s

      Image Source

      Domino’s is another company that’s seen great branded search success. The business has done a great job of creating a unique customer experience that users seek out. For example, when you order a Domino's pizza, you know you can follow a tracker related to the completion of your order.

      Things like that make Domino’s memorable in a positive way, which sets the company up for success across a few important branded search factors. Additionally, Domino’s also uses local SEO tactics to make it easy for folks to find the closest Domino’s to them.

      5. Disney

      branded search examples, Disney

      Image Source

      A final strong example of branded search success is Disney. Disney’s an extremely large company with loads of branded terms, and Disney does a brilliant job of keyword optimization for all of them.

      Disney also succeeds at driving branded traffic to the correct locations. Users searching for “Disney vacation” don’t need to be driven to a website about Disney’s movies, nor do they need to buy a Disney bedspread. The brand’s website optimization drives their users down the funnel swiftly, making the company a branded search success.

      Branded Search Emerging Trends

      As we wrap up our discussion on branded search, it’s important to highlight some industry changes. Search engines and SEO best practices are always evolving, so here are a few trends to keep an eye on as you develop your branded search campaign.

      AI

      More and more frequently, users are taking advantage of AI tools as their search engines. This means you need to ensure that your website is optimized to be scanned by AI tools. Additionally, general SEO best practices will help your site appeal to AI searches, as ranking highly will signal to AI bots that your brand holds authority and reputation.

      Daniel Male shed some light on the concern with AI tools like ChatGPT: you can’t control what the bots say the way you can control your meta-description or website copy. However, he’s got a recommendation.

      “Maximize accurate, valuable, and detailed content about your brand on your website(s), social platforms, in the news, and elsewhere to maximize the chance that chatbots will generate the responses you want them to when they’re prompted about your brand.”

      Voice Search

      Another important trend is voice search. More and more users are taking advantage of voice search to make queries. Be sure that your website is properly optimized to be found by voice search. A mobile-friendly site goes a long way to clearing voice search expectations.

      Mobile Search

      Finally, you’re certainly aware of the growing population using search engines on mobile devices. Make sure that your website is set up to be mobile-friendly. Not only does this improve the user experience, but this also boosts technical SEO and can help you place higher on SERPs.

      Use Branded Search to Drive Traffic & Sales

      Branded search plays a crucial role in a company's digital marketing strategy. By optimizing for branded keywords, businesses can establish authority, build trust and customer loyalty, and drive more qualified traffic to their website. 

      Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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