Monday, 17 May 2010

Should Brand Names be Part of Keyword Analysis?

I had a meeting with someone a few weeks back and he asked me a question on name branding. He asked how I related my client brand/company name to the keyword analysis. Looking back I don't think I answered the question the best way I could. I've never really thought much about it so I took it for granted. So I've been doing some research and realised brand names are slightly different from your other keywords. They should have their own level of analysis and research.
On a good day, I don't believe it's necessary for your company name or brand name to be part of your keyword research. However, if the company name is something like 'Free SEO services', well then I really can't argue with that (although why would anyone want a brand name like that?!). I've been wondering what my brand name is and I guess it would just have to be my name, 'Tola Famakinwa', or 'Tola SEO', I don't have a company or anything like that so I can use this as my brand name, for now anyway. SEO for beginners and SEO Nigeria is not my brand name, that's just what I write about. 

So I've got my brand name, fortunately, and unfortunately for me, my name is quite unique! I don't have to worry too much about someone stealing my brand name or outranking me for it. I think it's a good idea to always rank #1 for your brand name first, then going for your selected keywords. If your brand name is your website domain name, like in my case, then half the battle is won already!

So yes, the brand name should be part of the keyword analysis, especially when your brand name isn't unique or is not your domain name. Some companies pick really unique names which make it easy for them to rank #1 in no time, but if that's not your case, then you have to do some extra work.

Once you're ranking #1 for your brand name (or at least close to it) and actually getting clickthroughs for your brand name I think the next best thing to do is separate your brand name organic searches from your keywords. Why do I say this? Partly because in relation to SEO, brand names are really none of our business. If the company is relatively big and does TV Ads, Newspaper Ads and other forms of marketing there's a high chance the brand name search would be high. SEO can't really take the credit for that, because there's a brand awareness campaign going on. Also, most people who land on your website from your brand name have lower bounce rates and higher goal conversion rates because they already know you and most likely want something from you. 

I believe adding an advanced segmentation for your brand name on your Google Analytics or whichever tracking service you're using would be a very good idea. I learnt how to do that from the kind people at Occam's Razor (thanks James) and I've found it very helpful. This way you get to track the actual traffic with and without your brand name and you see what other keywords are bringing people to your website and focus on those activities. You could also ensure there is a conversion when people land on your website through your brand name, or possibly find out why there isn't a conversion. 

I wish I knew all this when asked the question, would have blown their brains off! But oh well, I know it now...

What do you think? Where do you get most of your organic search traffic from? Your brand name or other keywords? Is it a good idea to separate your brand name from your keyword analysis or not? Would love to get your take on it.  
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