Branded and Unbranded Keywords: When to Use Which

Consumers have a better and better idea of what they’re looking for when they search for something online, whether they care about specific brands or not. This allows them to use keywords that your brand can benefit from. The problem comes when trying to decide whether or not to have your keywords or phrases as branded or unbranded. As it turns out, distinguishing between the two is simple.

Branded keywords work best when referring to features of the business that may not be present in other locations. If the manager of a hotel in a chain wanted people to remember that their branch has a breakfast with espresso drinks they might want to capitalize on searches for “[hotel brand] in [location] with espresso” and “[hotel brand] near [location] with good coffee.” 

A business that already has a strong local foundation is optimized for branded keywords. They help repeat customers to find businesses they enjoyed or had unique features they wanted to revisit or comment on. 

Unbranded keywords help to build a business and only work well when sufficient details of the business have been provided. Google’s local searches won’t help you if Google doesn’t know where you are. Make sure you have your address, phone number, hours, and website easily accessible. These are important for both branded and unbranded searches.

When choosing unbranded keywords, focus on the foundational aspects of your business. Are you a family/locally owned, vegan cafe? Those are your keywords. The consumers performing unbranded searches are the easiest to convert into first-time customers. If they cared about brands, they would have done a branded search. Unbranded keywords are your opportunity to catch the attention of new customers, while branded keywords help you to convert them into a reliable consumer base.

When deciding on branded and unbranded keywords, it’s not a question of “either/or,” both are required to keep a business running and customers spending.