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A guide to non-branded keywords and why keywords are vital for growth online

Back to all resources

A guide to non-branded keywords and why keywords are vital for growth online

Key takeaways

As consumer digital behaviours shift, so does the use of Google Search. Increasingly, people are going online to research and discover products and services without including brand names in their queries.

For advertisers, this presents a valuable opportunity to build awareness — and ultimately drive sales — by identifying generic searches relevant to your business and applying these to your keyword-based search campaigns. Here we answer the big questions around non-branded keywords and look at how you can use the Keyword Planner tool to harness them for growth.

1. What’s the difference between branded and non-branded keywords?

2. Why are non-branded keywords important for growth?

3. How do I identify the right non-branded keywords for my business?

4. Should I be using general or specific non-branded keywords?

“With discovery moving online, getting your keyword strategy right is vital for reaching customers in the market for products like yours”

1. What’s the difference between branded and non-branded keywords?

A branded keyword is a search query that contains your brand name. Non-branded keywords are words or phrases that relate to your products or services, without the inclusion of the name of your business (or a competitor).

For example, “Google Ads platform” is a branded query, whereas “best online advertising platform” is a related non-branded or generic query.

Depending on where people are in the purchase journey, they typically use different kinds of search terms to find the product they want. Shoppers at the top of the funnel tend to search using generic terms, whereas those more familiar with a market and the products available will be more inclined to include brand names

2. Why are non-branded keywords important for growth?

Online advertisers have typically used a balance of generic and branded keywords to capture a diverse range of customers, but that balance is changing as consumers’ digital habits shift.

With discovery and inspiration moving online — and essentially, window-shopping becoming a digital experience — getting your non-branded keyword strategy right is vital for reaching customers who show intent for products like yours but are yet to demonstrate a preference for a brand.

This is especially critical if you’re launching a new product, are a new brand or are wanting to expand in new markets, and need to build awareness.

3. How do I identify the right non-branded keywords for my business?

Keyword Planner is your essential tool for keyword research and selecting the right terms for your business. Research capabilities are built-in, meaning you’ll be able to see a list of branded and non-brand keywords relevant to your business within the tool, as well as data on how they might perform, the average number of times people have searched for them, and the prospective cost of advertising against those queries.

Once you’ve selected which keywords you want to add to your keyword list, you can use Keyword Planner to organise keywords into categories and create new campaigns based on the insights provided.

4. Should I be using general or specific non-branded keywords?

Whereas general keywords (i.e. “condiments”) typically appear in more search queries, bidding for them can be more competitive — and the more general they are, the less likely those searching for them are to be looking for what your business offers.

On the other hand, specific keywords (i.e. “organic tomato sauce”) are more likely to appear for terms that only apply to your business. But if you go too specific, you risk not reaching as many people as you’d like.

Here, Smart Bidding can be the solution. With a focus on conversion tracking, it uses machine learning to prioritise the best performing searches, automatically channelling your investment to those keywords driving growth.

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