Home / How Non-Branded Keywords Help Our Clients Maintain Search Visibility Despite Decreased Brand Demand

How Non-Branded Keywords Help Our Clients Maintain Search Visibility Despite Decreased Brand Demand

Economic shifts, weather, cultural events, and more can influence brand demand, and many of these factors feel out of your control in marketing. You know what’s IN your control? Your investment in non-branded keywords.

When performing keyphrase research for your content strategy, are you putting enough emphasis on non-branded keyphrases? While you want to rank #1 for terms directly related to your brand, non-branded keywords can be an unsung hero when it comes to brand awareness and search visibility. 

We give you the rundown on non-branded keyphrases, including what they are, why you should target them, and how non-branded traffic has helped our clients maintain search visibility.

What Is a Non-Branded Keyword?

A non-branded, or generic, keyphrase is a term related to the products or services you offer without your company or product name included. “Smartphone” is an example of a non-branded keyphrase. Branded keyphrases do contain your company’s name or product names. “Galaxy phone” and “samsung phone” are branded keyphrases for Samsung. 

If a keyphrase contains a brand name that’s not yours, it’s considered non-branded. For example, uBreakiFix is a company offering local device repair services. “uBreakiFix phone repair” is a branded keyphrase for this company, but “phone repair near me” and “iphone repair austin” are non-branded keyphrases. 

Why Target Non-Branded Keywords?

Traditionally, non-branded keywords serve two main purposes: spreading brand awareness and maintaining search visibility. However, with generative AI booming in popularity, non-branded keyphrases are becoming increasingly important for tools such as Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE).

Spread Brand Awareness

Non-branded keyphrases help your brand reach more potential customers. If consumers search for a keyword containing your brand, they already know you exist and are interested in your products or services. Consumers who are unaware of your brand might discover you through a non-branded search. 

Let’s say you own a company that sells hiking sandals. If a user searches for “[your brand] sandals” and clicks on your site, it’s still considered a win because you get a click over a third-party seller. But that’s traffic from someone likely planning to purchase your product — you just get the added benefit of a direct sale. 

If the user searches for “hiking sandals,” you can appear in search results and be found by someone who has never heard of you. They could click on your result, like what they see, and choose to purchase from you over a competitor like Teva.

Increase or Stabilize Search Visibility When Brand Demand Is Down

If demand for your brand goes down, your branded search visibility will drop along with it. Brand demand is search demand (the number of times a keyphrase is searched for within a specific period) directly related to your branded terms. The more monthly searches for keyphrases containing your brand or product name, the higher your brand demand is.

Brand demand can go down as seasons, economic conditions, and trends change. A pest control company might experience seasonal drops in brand demand during the winter months. Luxury or high-end goods brands may see brand demand decrease during times of economic uncertainty. A clothing brand selling exclusively vintage styles will likely have decreased demand as consumers move toward Y2K-inspired trends.

Relying solely on branded terms means your overall site traffic and impressions can suffer significantly. Incorporating non-branded keyphrases in your strategy can soften the blow or stabilize your search visibility.

Non-branded keyphrases can be particularly useful if your brand is better known for one product. Let’s continue with the hiking sandal example and say your brand also sells other footwear. But like your competitor Teva, you’re mainly known for sandals. 

Searches for “[your brand] sandals” might drop in colder months. Users may instead search for “hiking boots.” If you aren’t known for your boots, it’s unlikely they’ll search for “[your brand] hiking boots.” Targeting the generic version will help keep your brand top of mind and spread awareness despite the seasonal decrease in brand/product demand. 

Non-Branded Traffic in the Age of AI

Generative AI tools pose a new threat to branded traffic, especially integrated search tools like SGE. A recent study found that SGE results for branded queries can include competitor and third-party sites right alongside your own. This increase in competition for brand visibility even extends to local search with competitors showing up for a brand-specific regional search. Focusing more on non-branded terms can help you stay relevant in the rocky AI landscape. 

Monitoring Branded vs. Non-Branded Keyphrases

Tracking your overall keyphrase rankings and traffic is a must, but you should take it a step further by separating your branded and non-branded keyphrases. Tools like Semrush’s Organic Research can show you a breakdown of branded vs. non-branded traffic. You can also monitor this on your own using Google Search Console data — just filter queries by terms including your company and product names to gather info on branded keyphrases. 

By separating your branded and non-branded traffic, you can better understand where your traffic comes from — and where you should place your focus. If you notice a lot of high-quality traffic coming from non-branded keyphrases, that lets you know you should create more content around generic terms. 

Breaking down traffic and impressions by keyphrase type can also help you diagnose performance issues. If you notice branded terms drop but non-branded keyphrases remain stable, you can deduce your content still performs well and you might have a brand demand problem. If both branded and non-branded traffic is falling, you’ll need to be more concerned about overall content and SEO performance. 

Are Non-Branded Keyphrases Always a Good Strategy?

We’ve been singing the merits of non-branded keyphrases, but remember that not every product or service will benefit from a robust non-branded keyword strategy. For example, an e-commerce site for an OEM auto parts seller should prioritize branded traffic over non-branded. If they only make parts for Subarus, they’ll want to focus on traffic from searches that contain the brand name — like “subaru brake pads” or “subaru check engine light.” 

That’s not to say non-branded keyphrases don’t still have their place. A solid SEO content strategy includes a healthy mix of branded and non-branded terms. Some brands may benefit from putting more weight on one side. Following the OEM e-commerce example, branded searches would bring the parts seller the most valuable, high-intent traffic. However, ignoring non-branded terms could mean missing out on potential sales. 

A Subaru owner might search “subaru brake pads” specifically, but they could also complete a generic search for “when to replace brake pads.” A page ranking high for “when to replace brake pads” will gain traffic from all sorts of car owners — including those with Subarus. A Subaru driver winds up on the page, and the OEM e-commerce site is placed top of mind as a source for the part they need. 

GPO Clients Experience the Value of Non-Branded Traffic

Our blog services and Local Pages program are big drivers for non-branded traffic, targeting generic terms and questions. Across different industries, client blogs and Local Pages sites rank for more non-branded and total keyphrases than their root domains.

When a client’s WWW site experiences dips in traffic due to decreased brand demand, it’s not uncommon for their blog or Local Pages traffic to remain steady or increase thanks to those generic phrases. Below is the typical brand vs. non-branded keyphrase ratio for a GPO blog program.

You don’t have to just take our word for it. Here’s a real example highlighting the power of non-branded keyphrases. 

The Problem

One of our blog clients is a national furniture, appliance, and electronics retailer sitting at a 6-year low for brand demand, leading to a 20+% decrease in traffic year-over-year. We know this is not a search visibility issue since many of their (mostly branded) keyphrases continue to rank in the top 3 positions. We have also seen reduced search demand for their key non-branded category terms, indicating reduced demand industry-wide.

The Solution

So, how do we keep this client relevant and in front of searchers’ eyes? By targeting relevant non-branded keyphrases with a comprehensive blog program. We craft blogs centered around questions and problems customers might search for when they need new appliances, furniture, or electronics in the near future. These topics include what to do if you drop your laptop, how to fix a dryer that won’t heat up, and tips for cleaning a stinky couch. (Pro tip: get a new one!)

The Results

Branded terms currently drive the vast majority of traffic for this client’s main domain. Last month, they had 263K visits from branded keyphrases and 53K visits from non-branded terms. Overall, their traffic for the month was down year-over-year. 

On the other hand, non-branded terms drive almost 100% of this client’s blog traffic. Only 743 visits came from branded keyphrases, while non-branded keywords drove 11K visits. Despite traffic to their WWW site being down, traffic to the blog subdomain remained stable year-over-year. 

Targeting non-branded keyphrases with the blog helps keep this client relevant. While consumers may not be searching directly for appliances, electronics, and furniture, they are experiencing problems that signal they may need to make a purchase soon. Our blogs rank high for these searches, planting the seed in consumers’ minds for when the time comes to make a purchase.

Increase Your Non-Branded Organic Traffic with GPO

Want to boost your brand’s search presence? GPO’s local pages, product descriptions, and blogs have proven to drive non-branded impressions and traffic, even during times of decreased brand demand. Get in touch with one of our experts to learn how we can increase brand awareness and bring more visitors to your site with non-branded terms.

web reporting graphs on screen of tablet sitting on wood surface in front of cellphone and white coffee cup

How Non-Branded Keywords Help Our Clients Maintain Search Visibility Despite Decreased Brand Demand

  • Organic Search

Economic shifts, weather, cultural events, and more can influence brand demand, and many of these factors feel out of your control in marketing. You know what’s IN your control? Your investment in non-branded keywords.

Read more
Woman with outstretched arms in floral dress, eyes closed and looking like she has peace within

Cutting-Edge Ketamine & TMS Therapy Company Launches New Local Strategy

  • Local Marketing

Learn how a brain-based behavioral health center is expanding its local reach online to increase patient consultations despite a limited physical footprint.

Read more
close up of plastic skeleton covered in fake spiderwebs

Should You Create New Seasonal Content or Update Existing?

  • Content Marketing

Your seasonal content is looking a little dusty. Is it time for a quick refresh, or do you need to start from scratch?

Read more
Subscribe to our newsletter
Privacy Policy
  |  Copyright © 2024 GPO