What’s the Difference Between Branded vs Non-Branded Keywords?

Starbucks. McDonald’s. Coca-Cola. Nike. You’re probably familiar with these brands.

Coffee. Fast food. Pop/Soda (depending on your region). Athletic shoes. It’s likely you’ve used the generic terms in the category that the brands above are associated with.

When choosing keywords, which is more important? Is it branded vs non-branded keywords? Brand-centric keywords? Category-centric keywords? A mix of both?

You’ll discover the answers to those questions in today’s post. You will learn:

  • The definition of branded keywords vs non-branded keywords
  • The main difference between branded keywords vs non-branded keywords
  • A consideration to help your company when choosing keywords you want to dominate

Branded vs Non-Branded Keywords

What is the definition of branded and non-branded keywords:

In marketing terms, a branded keyword refers to the use of a brand name for a search query. For example, if you were hungry for pizza, and wanted pizza specifically from Uno Pizzeria & Grill, you would search for Uno’s brand name.

Non-branded keywords are used in search queries that are broader in nature, which end up serving the user more open-ended results based on the search query. These results cater to the undefined needs of the user who may approach a search query with an open mind, and without a specific agenda or problem to solve.

For example, a non-branded keyword could apply to the scenario we referred to previously. You’re hungry for pizza, but not from a specific restaurant or brand. So, you type ‘pizza places near me’ into your search engine of choice and are delivered results relevant to that search query. Any other search term or keyword related to the broader product, service or category is referred to as a non-branded keyword.

The main differences between branded and non-branded keywords:

1.) Search Intent

2.) Stage in the buyer funnel

In the beginning of the buyer’s journey, prospective customers are in an information-gathering mode. Their intent is to learn, and their loyalty isn’t tied to any specific brand. Customers are likely looking to solve a problem and aren’t yet ready for a specific solution provided by a specific company.

It’s realistic to expect those same prospective customers to read your competitor’s content as they’re gathering information. This is because the keywords customers are using are non-branded. Depending on your industry, your customers could gather information over the course of months or years before purchasing.

Branded keywords don’t play a significant role in the customer journey until search intent shifts. Once prospective customers’ need for information has been met, they’ll begin researching brands that best serve their needs. When it comes time to decide and purchase, branded keywords and brand awareness play a crucial role in your success.

A Consideration When Choosing Keywords for Content and SEO

Search engine optimization is constantly changing and choosing keywords that are relevant to your core customers is still crucial for your business to get discovered on a SERP (search engine results page). That said, the way marketers and content creators use keywords has evolved and the same way keywords were incorporated years ago aren’t applicable in today’s sophisticated search ecosystem.

Key Keyword Consideration: Choose keywords based on the devices your customers primarily use – Not only is it paramount to write content for your human customer, it’s also essential to be mindful of the device(s) most of your customers use. The results prospective customers receive will vary depending on that device (among countless other factors).

Are your customers using their phones to type in keywords and search queries?

Do your customers use voice search or smart assistants/smart speakers?

In the omnichannel, multi-device world we’re living in, your prospective customers could use any combination of devices to find answers to their questions. Point being, by proactively optimizing your content and keywords for these devices now, your company will ensure it’s keeping up with the evolving needs of your customers.

Unlock Customer Potential with the Right Keyword Strategy

Your customers are in control, but the right combination of keywords can still help your company become discovered. We can help your company use both non-branded and branded keywords to your advantage.

Contact us, and we can provide specific insight to help your company perform keyword research and implement optimizations that capture intent and conversions.

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