What Are Branded Keywords and Why Are They Important?

You already know what a target keyword is — it’s the primary keyword that you want a page or post to rank for. And you also know why monitoring keywords is so important. Mainly, measuring keyword performance lets you know what you’re doing right and what needs to be tweaked to perform better in the SERPs.

But branded keywords often get overlooked. You may even be wondering, “What are branded keywords?” You’re in the right place. Let’s get into it!

What Are Branded Keywords?

So, what are branded keywords? They’re what they sound like: keywords associated with your brand, which also includes your products, product lines and services. Here are a few examples of branded keywords:

  • Amazon
  • Corvette
  • iPad Pro
  • OnePeloton
  • Whopper

Sometimes, a brand name may be used along with a product or service, such as “Burger King Whopper” or “Chevrolet Corvette.”

A branded keyword isn’t the same as a hashtag or mention, though the same words may be used. For our purposes, a branded keyword refers to something like “iPad Pro” or “OnePeloton,” not #ipadpro or @onepeloton.

Brand Name Variations

Brand name variations can also be considered branded keywords. Typos and branded words that are difficult to remember or spell often lead to brand name variations.

What are branded keywords in terms of alternatives? Here are a few examples:

  • Hydroflask instead of Hydro Flask
  • Rice Crispies instead of Rice Krispies
  • Tumbler instead of Tumblr

If you’re unsure of common misspellings of your brand keywords, a simple Google search can help. For example, when you search for “Hydro Flask,” one of the first results is for “Hydroflasks.”

An example of what are branded keywords using a misspelling.

What Are Branded Keywords vs. Non-Branded Keywords?

Branded keywords include your company name or the name of a product, product line or service.

Non-branded keywords don’t include any part of your branding, even if they reference the type of content, products or services you provide.

Here are a few examples:

  • Apple Watch vs. smartwatch
  • Nike Air Force 1 vs. basketball sneakers
  • Peloton Tread vs. treadmill

Non-branded keywords are important to know so that you can use them in your content and improve your search ranking. Branded keywords, however, help you tap into your audience and find out what they want.

Are Branded Keywords Important?

Yes! Branded keywords are definitely important for your marketing strategy, though companies often ignore them or forget to track them. Here’s why you should incorporate them into your plans.

Provide Better Customer Service

Social media is often used as a customer support channel or as a place where consumers can air their grievances (or praises) about a brand. But if they don’t use a hashtag or a mention, you may not see their post at all.

By tracking keywords on social platforms as well as the web (for example, to see reviews of your brand), you can provide customer service while also learning what your audience wants.

Create Content Using Branded Keywords

Knowing the brand keywords that your audience is searching for may guide some of your content. For example, if there’s a brand keyword that’s being searched for a lot but your website isn’t ranking in the SERPs for it, you can create a page or post and optimize for that keyword.

Brand keyword research can also alert you to non-brand keywords people use when they can’t quite remember the name of your business. Here’s an example that pulls from Google Search Console reporting:

An example of how to use branded keyword research for other SEO research.

The search “star wars cantina reservations” isn’t after information about the Mos Eisley Cantina in the movies; it’s about the Star Wars-themed restaurant in Disney World or Disneyland, which is actually called Oga’s Cantina.

If your company handled marketing for Oga’s Cantina, you could use the keyword “star wars cantina reservations” in your content to rank for that query.

Understand Share of Voice and Customer Sentiment

Share of voice and customer sentiment are social metrics that you should be tracking. Here’s what they mean:

  • Share of Voice: How much users are talking about your brand vs. the competition.
  • Customer Sentiment: Positive vs. negative comments about your brand.

By tracking branded keywords, you’ll be able to see the compliments and critiques your brand is receiving, giving you a more thorough view of your online presence and reputation.

Perform Competitive Analysis

Your brand isn’t the only one to track branded keywords for. You can also keep an eye on branded keywords for your competition.

Seeing what others are saying about the companies you compete with will show you (a) what they’re doing right and strategies you should adopt and (b) where they’re going wrong so you can swoop in and appease users.

For example, if someone on the Hydro Flask marketing team wanted to check out competitor mentions, they could search for “YETI Rambler.” On the first SERP, they’d find this review from GearLab:

Showing how knowing what are branded keywords can help with outreach.

Hydro Flask could then reach out to the website owner to see if they’d be interested in reviewing one of their products.

How To Find and Track Branded Keywords

Even though hashtags and mentions on social media will trigger a notification, simply using a branded keyword on social won’t, so you’ll want to have a plan for tracking them. And, of course, you’ll also want to track them elsewhere online aside from social platforms. Here are a few ways to do that.

Google for Branded Keyword Tracking

If you’re most interested in how your branded keywords show up in search, you can use Google for research.

Aside from simply Google your brand, products or services and analyzing the SERPs, you can use Google Alerts for mention tracking. You enter the keyword to monitor, then adjust settings like how often you want to be notified about new mentions and whether you want all results or just the top ones.

Google Alerts setup page.

You can also use the Google Search Console to generate branded keyword ideas. For example, look at the different versions of “Oga’s Cantina.”

Branded keyword research to find alternatives.

There’s “ogas cantina,” “oga cantina” and, on another page, “star wars bar.” If you were marketing for Oga’s Cantina or a bar in competition with Oga’s, you could use that information to do more brand keyword research or add those keywords to your listening tool.

If you need a higher-level plan for monitoring brand mentions, particularly on social, you’ll want a paid tool. There are tools that you can use specifically for listening, whether that’s the main function of the tool or one of many features bundled in.

Consider tools like Agorapulse, BuzzSumo and Sprout Social. Here’s a list of 25 services to consider for monitoring your branded keywords.

What Are Branded Keywords? Final Thoughts

To truly know what your audience thinks of your brand, monitoring branded keywords is a must. You’ll also uncover opportunities to provide customer service, improve your content and products, and compete with similar companies.

Also, if you opt to use a listening tool, you can track all types of brand name uses, including keywords, hashtags and mentions.

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