Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Keyword Research
Keywords are at the foundation of an SEO campaign. Keyword research is the first step, to find out how people are searching for the products or services that your business provides. Relevant and approved keywords are then added to website content, used as anchor text links throughout content that is published, and used to search for new link building opportunities. There are two different kinds of keywords-branded and non branded keywords. Branded keyword search terms are variations of keywords that include the name of the business or brand. For example, “Company XYZ”, “Company XYZ services”, and “Company XYZ address” are all examples of branded keyword search terms. Non branded keyword search terms are the terms that have no brand or company affiliation and are broader such as “computer software” or “computer software company”.
The primary goal of search engine optimization is to improve the search engine presence of a website for non branded search terms and introduce the business/brand to a new audience that is looking for what it has to offer. For this reason, one of the most important Analytics reports to pay attention to is the Entrance Keywords report. Over time, as an SEO strategy is being implemented, there should be an increase in the number of non branded keywords that are generating visitors to the site.
For many SEO clients, especially during the beginning of the campaign, these reports display that branded entrance keywords are far outweighing the non branded search terms. Clients often ask, “Is this a bad thing? Does it mean that our SEO isn’t working?”
To clarify, branded search is never a bad thing. Branded entrance keywords mean that you have a strong brand and that you are doing a good job of marketing your business in other ways. For example, someone may see an advertisement or a piece of direct mail and want to learn more about your business, so they search for your company name. Or maybe they were referred to your business by a trusted friend or co-worker. All of these things are great, especially since it’s smart to have a well rounded marketing strategy that incorporates online and offline efforts. Relying too heavily on one medium is dangerous.
“If I’m doing so well for branded search terms, does that mean that SEO isn’t worth the investment?” Not at all. Even though there is no easy way to tie a branded search back to SEO, it still plays a role. Two big components of SEO today are content marketing and social media. Maybe someone came across a guest post or a tweet and remembered your brand name and then searched for it. Technically, that visitor is coming from SEO efforts.
When it comes to non branded and branded entrance keywords to measure SEO success, don’t compare branded to non branded. Compare non branded to non branded over time. As an SEO strategy gains momentum there should be a gradual increase in non branded entrance keywords.