Having an interesting SEM discussion about brand specific traffic vs generic SEO traffic on the Moz LinkedIn group http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Please-help-I-wonder-if-2976409.S.5847209123174690819 and Mike Escott an SEO Manager at NetBooster UK is arguing branding traffic is important, basically a backup for if Google downgrades a sites main competitive SERPs.
Branding is a bit of a chicken and egg situation, until you have a popular brand there’s no Google brand traffic to target.
NetBooster UK Brand Marketing Strategy
Brand traffic = someone specifically searching for your brand name or your brand name + keyword. So it’s the difference between someone searching for “T-Shirts” and “Your Brands T-Shirts”. The branded search means that you’ll appear at the top, get a huge CTR and convert higher as people are already searching for your brand. I have no idea what ERP software is or does but the challenge is how to position yourself as the go to authority for people needing advice on that software so they add your brand to their search query.
Mike Escott SEO Manager NetBooster UK
Why Brand Marketing Wastes SEO Resources
This brand SEM strategy is wrong for the vast majority (not all) of small and even medium sized businesses, there’s not enough brand specific traffic for most businesses to warrant spending valuable SEO real estate to target brand SERPs.
On this site I’m trying to sell a WordPress SEM theme called Stallion Responsive (which is relatively new), so that’s my ‘brand’ (sort of). Not many online search engine users even know Stallion Responsive exists, no one is searching for “Stallion Responsive WordPress SEM” or “Stallion Responsive SEM” or “anything Stallion Responsive”, not in great numbers anyway. Even if Stallion Responsive becomes the go to WordPress SEM Theme there will only be a small number of brand specific SERPs worth spending valuable SEO resources on and those can be target directly with pages like Stallion Responsive Theme.
A long tail keyword SERP this site currently has a top 3 Google result for is Whitehat PR Sculpting, this is not a high traffic SERP, the page that’s ranked is a comment I made to a visitors comment asking about conserving PageRank on a WordPress site. The title tag for the comment is “WhiteHat SEO PR Sculpting : WordPress SEO of Categories Siloing” it has the potential for several long tail keyword SERPs. If I took branding into account on this site the easiest way is to append the brand name to the end of all title tags (lots of WordPress sites do this), so the new title would be “WhiteHat SEO PR Sculpting : WordPress SEO of Categories Siloing – Stallion Responsive”.
No one is going to search for “Whitehat PR Sculpting Stallion Responsive” or anything similar, so adding the brand to the title tag of that page is a waste of title tag SEO benefit.
Branding SEO Cost
The article you are reading now for example could have a pure SEO title tag like:
Brand Marketing Strategy
or a brand aware SEO title tag like:
Brand Marketing Strategy - Stallion Responsive
But again no one is searching for Brand Stallion Responsive SERPs.
Why Title Tags Should NOT Include Branding
The title tag SEO benefit is spread over all the keywords, in our pure SEO title “Brand Marketing Strategy” each keyword receives 1/3rd of the SEO benefit in our brand aware title tag “Brand Marketing Strategy – Stallion Responsive” each keyword receives 1/5th of the SEO benefit. Since no one searches for Stallion Responsive SERPs and certainly not SERPs related to brand marketing why would I waste 2/5th of the SEO benefit on those two keywords?
The original poster for the question on the LinkedIn Moz group has a site with brand name ERP Var (I like Mike originally made the error of thinking the brand was just ERP, but it’s ERP Var or ERPVar, still not sure :-)).
Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool
One way to check competition for a SERP is the Google AdWords keyword research tool which provides monthly traffic data and will provide a better idea of what a keyword or phrase is worth traffic wise.
Stallion Responsive – no monthly traffic
ERP Var or ERPVar – combined monthly traffic 50
SEO Gold (my old SEO services domain) – monthly traffic 70
Netbooster – monthly traffic 4,400
Moz or SEOMoz – combined monthly traffic 150,000
Amazon Prime – monthly traffic 1,500,000
The above will give an idea of what Google search engine users are searching for brand wise.
Targeting Stallion Responsive SERPs, ERP Var/ERPVar SERPs and SEO Gold SERPs are not going to generate any serious Google traffic**. Targeting Netbooster SERPs will generate a little Google traffic, but not much. Moz/SEOMoz are worthwhile SERPs to target. And Amazon Prime the big money SERPs.
** Note however for SEO Gold one of the words (SEO) is a very important keyword for that site, so 50% of the brand name SEO Gold does help with SEO SERPs. ERP Var (not ERPVar) is similar, the site is targeted at SERPs like ERP Software, ERP Consultant etc… (I’ve no idea what ERP is BTW :-)), so again using the brand ERP Var could help with SERPs sitewide. ERPVar wouldn’t help at all. However, if a page is about SEO or ERP it should be optimized for those two keywords anyway, by adding the brand name it adds little extra SEO benefit and what about pages not targeted at SEO or ERP?
Targeting Brand Traffic
Pretty obvious from the above only the last two examples (NetBooster and Moz/SEOMoz) are brands worth targeting. The NetBooster ones OK, but the parent NetBooster company has a turnover of almost 65 million Euros, so profits from 4,400 visitors a month isn’t going to make a dent in their paper clips bill let alone keep a medium size company in business.
I’m a one man band (self employed) and could probably make a nice chunk of change on 4,400 visitors a month if Stallion Responsive specific SERPs generated that amount of traffic, would be highly targeted and more likely to convert, but no site can survive on less than 100 visitors a month (see the ERP Var monthly traffic) just for brand traffic.
What level of brand traffic are you expecting?
Unless a business has a recognizable brand there isn’t any search engine traffic to target. Before Amazon existed no one searched for Amazon Prime, it would have cost Amazon millions in advertising revenue to develop a brand that makes a search like Amazon Prime worth targeting.
When I offered SEO services I traded under the name SEO Gold, the domain ranks number 1 for that SERP (not a competitive SERP), but it doesn’t generate any real traffic, it’s not a recognized brand name: I’d guess few reading this ever heard of SEO Gold, but if you do a lot of SEO research you’ve probably been on one of my SEO sites over the past 10 years or so (maybe my SEO Gold site for the SEO Tutorial series) since they’ve ranked well for search engine optimization relevant SERPs on and off.
The business site NetBooster UK, I’d not heard of until the LinkedIn MOZ thread, never found the site for an SEO relevant search and I do a LOT of SEO research and yet the main company has a turnover of almost 65 million Euros for 2013, some of which must go into marketing the NetBooster/NetBooster UK brand. They offer “Online Brand & Reputation Management” so must spend some serious cash on branding their own business.
According to Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool these are the relevant SERPs that make up the 4,400 visitors:
I’d like to see them run a successful business on that one set of brand SERPs if they lost their main organic traffic sources (Google downgraded them for competitive SERPs).
These are not SERPs you rely on. I doubt anyone in bulk is searching for NetBooster SEM or NetBooster SEO or NetBooster Brand Marketing. Visitors are searching for SEM, SEO and Brand Marketing.
Moz Brand Aware SEO
Moz is a recognizable SEO industry brand name, 110,000 searches a month. SEOMoz adds a further 40,000. I don’t know how much traffic Moz gets a month, would guess they’d struggle if they only relied on Moz relevant SERPs, but that’s a healthy chunk of traffic, so branding is important to Moz.
According to Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool these are the relevant SERPs that make up the 110,00 Moz visitors:
seo moz, moz rank, moz.com, www.moz, moz designs, the moz, moz seo, seo moz blog, www.moz.com, seo moz tools, seo moz toolbar, moz bar, moz design, moz metal, moz metals, moz tools, mike moz, the moz blog, moz directory, d moz
I’m familiar with some of these, Moz Rank for example. The AdWords keywords tool says Moz Rank has 720 visitors and MozRank 2,900 searches a month (not a lot of traffic), even with an industry recognized brand the brand traffic isn’t always high (no where near as high as general SERPs like SEO, search engine marketing etc…). The Moz sites page that ranks number one for MozRank has a title tag: “MozRank – Learn SEO – Moz” which is a brand aware SEO title tag.
Does it really need the Moz at the end to be number one in Google for the above SERP? Probably not, but with 140,000 searches related to Moz I can understand why they have a brand aware SEO title tag.
For me, NetBooster UK and the OP of the LinkedIn Moz group question (the ERPVar site) it’s not that important because we don’t have brands that search engine visitors are searching for.