Prioritizing Brand and Non-Brand Keywords In Paid Search

The below diagram breaks out the distribution of keywords that drive the most sales from Head to Mid-tail to Tail. A few “Head” keywords will drive the majority of sales, these are typically your company’s branded terms like: Burton snowboards, Volcom, etc. Everything besides the Head keywords are non-brand keywords. Non-brand can be broken up into two sections: Mid-tail and Tail. “Mid-tail” is made up keywords that have a lot of queries but drive less revenue, keywords like: snowboard bindings and helmet. The “tail” is made up of the highly specific keywords that happen less often, keywords like: Red HiFi snowboard helmet and mens Capita Mid Life Zero Snowboard.

Brand versus Non-Brand Keywords

The columns in my diagram show the amount of revenue you can expect from each segment. Head terms are the most profitable because these people are already educated about your brand, know what they are looking for and where they are going to buy it from. The Mid-Tail keywords have the least amount of sales because these people are not sure what they want or where to buy from. They are in browsing mode. The Tail has less over all traffic from each keyword but in aggregate it is a very profitable.

Before trying to tackle Mid-Tail keywords, first focus on maximizing impression share of your brand keywords in the head segment. With all other non-brand keywords, build Tail campaigns with tightly themed ad groups and relevant text ads first. If you try to go after the Mid-Tail section of non-brand keywords before working on Head and Tail, you will end up with high CPAs and low conversion rate. You’ll be doing a good job of educating potential new customers down the road with Mid-tail, but based on their search query you can tell they just aren’t in buying mode.

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