When we talk about a person or company’s ‘Online Reputation’, we’re usually focusing on social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), blogger buzz, and Google’s organic search results.
Social Media profiles can get cluttered with comments from detractors.
Blogger buzz may not always be as positive as we’d like.
Google search results can be less than flawless (United Airlines, I’m talking to you.).
A fourth facet that can be overlooked is Online Brand Advertising. Of course, a website is advertising, but I am going to focus on the need to buy ads to boost your brand – even when you don’t have a reputation issue. Specifically, how can you (and why should you) buy branded ads on Google AdWords. (Rest assured, display ads will be addressed in an upcoming post.)
We’ve already talked about United Air’s less than effective customer service strategies, and not to beat a dead horse, but I am aghast that despite the several negative listings in their Google results, it seems they are not taking the simplest step and buying their brand keywords on AdWords. United should be following the lead of their competitors and increasing their share of Google real-estate by buying ads, just like Southwest, Delta, and American.
Even if you do not have negative results to combat, there is always the possibility that they will one day appear. Be prepared. If your online reputation is consistently flawless, there is still reason to maintain AdWords ads for your branded keywords. A 2009 Marketing Sherpa study tells us that the top consideration of searchers when clicking on a Google result is brand – if the searcher recognizes your brand in search, it is far more likely that YOU will get the click, not your competitor, affiliate or reseller.
Now that you’re convinced (right?) that you need to be buying your branded terms on AdWords, here are a few best practices to consider when implementing your ads.
- Use words like “Official Site” in your ad (a “®” will also work nicely) – these make it easy to tell the “real” site from the others and can dramatically increase your ad’s click-through rate.
- Be thorough with your keyword list. Do your customers know you by multiple names? Are there abbreviations or acronyms to consider? What about misspellings? Buy all of them.
- Know your competition. Are there other sites advertising on your brand name? Are they advertising compelling offers or other messaging that might distract your customers? Do what you have to in order to “out message” them. Make a habit of monitoring the ads appearing for your brand terms. If you think a competitor is inappropriately using your brand in their ads, check out Google’s Trademark Policy before taking action.
- Bid aggressively. You want to be #1 for your brand terms. If you have competitors bidding on your brand terms, being #1 could be more expensive than you might think, but it will pay off. On the positive side, your ads are likely to have a very strong Quality Score on AdWords for your own brand terms, helping to boost you to the top at a lesser cost than your competitors might pay.
In Part II of this post, I’ll shift from talking about AdWords Search ads and discuss the power of display ads on Google’s Content Network and their impact on your brand.
Until then, get to Google and make sure your brand is effectively represented EVERYWHERE it can be.