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Why You Shouldn’t Overlook the Value of Non-Branded Traffic

Ellen Harvey

The value of non-branded search traffic isn’t as top of mind as it should be for many retailers. Non-branded traffic comes from general search queries that are often research-based. When viewed through the lens of ROAS, non-branded traffic seems to have little value because it is often expensive and low-converting. But queries like “Gift Ideas for Dad” can pave the way for a new customer to discover your brand and eventually become a loyal customer. In terms of Customer Lifetime Value, non-branded traffic can be very appealing.

Customer Journey Non-Branded Traffic

In a highly competitive channel like Google Ads, it’s not enough to optimize for conversions at the lowest cost. You need to consider the entire customer journey and understand how much value a new customer or returning customer might have to your business. Non-branded traffic is a critical part of this effort.

In order to harness non-branded traffic and nurture new customers, retailers must develop paid search campaigns that specifically target these types of keywords. But how can retailers keep the higher costs of non-branded traffic in check while targeting the right audiences? With properly structured campaigns, granular bidding, and intelligent audience targeting, retailers can finally solve the non-branded traffic conundrum and grow new customers. 

Keyword Traffic Definitions

How to Get Started

If you’re ready to invest in non-brand keywords and convert new customers, follow these steps to get started.

  1. Segment your campaigns by trademark, branded, and non-branded keywords. Each of these keyword types suggest a different level of intent from the shopper and may indicate which stage of the shopping journey they are in. Bidding each keyword type appropriately, in separate campaigns, ensures that your spend is in line with your return. Negate branded keywords from non-branded campaigns and visa versa to ensure a clean view of performance.
  2. Focus on high-margin products first. Non-branded keywords tend to have a higher CPC, so it’s important to promote products that have the greatest margins. Start with your highest margin products when you create non-brand campaigns to ensure the greatest ROAS.
  3. Align your landing pages to non-branded keywords. In Google paid search you can select the best landing pages for your ads. If shoppers are searching for a product, you can direct them to a page that lists all the brands of that product you offer. This improves user experience and can reduce CPCs by increasing the quality score of your ads.
  4. Make the most of RLSAs to reach the most qualified audience. Non-branded keywords attract a wide audience and massive volume. To narrow this down, layer RLSAs into your non-branded campaigns to target past site visitors or past customers. This will help you reach shoppers who are more likely to convert and improve your return.
  5. Start small and test regularly. It may take some time finding your niche in the SERP, but once you see a positive uptick in your new-to-file names at an acceptable cost, you’ll know your non-branded campaigns are achieving your goals. Emulate that success with new products and keywords, and constantly test new ways to expand your audience so that you engage shoppers at every stage of the funnel.

For more advice on harnessing non-branded traffic, download our e-book “How to Unlock the Potential of Non-Branded Traffic.”