I have long been a proponent of bidding on branded terms in paid search campaigns. Let’s move past the antiquated notion that “Users searching our branded terms would be converters anyways, so why pay for them.” There are many ways in which this statement is false (or at least misleading), but this topic has been discussed by every major blogging engine in the SEM space (Wordstream, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, etc.) so I won’t beat the dead horse. Let’s just accept that bidding on branded terms is a necessity and move on to something more important: How to analyze the numbers in a way that provides actionable insights.
Branded paid search visitors inherently interact with your website differently than visitors who came through more generic terms. They will convert at a higher rate, bounce much less often, and spend more time interacting with different areas of the site. Depending on your volume of branded paid search visitors, this high level of interactivity could skew your overall paid search traffic numbers in Analytics. If half of your visitors come through branded terms, you will not get an accurate representation of how relevant you are with your non-branded keywords because your numbers will be artificially inflated.
In order to fully understand the level of interaction you are driving through non-branded terms, we must separate out the branded data that is skewing our numbers. Historically, this involved intricate filters at the keyword or campaign level which can be frustrating, time consuming, and sometimes not all that accurate. Thankfully, the folks over at Google have come up with a solution to automatically segment branded and non-branded (or “generic”) terms into their own channel buckets in Analytics.
In order to take advantage of this new functionality you will need to “opt in” and add the terms you want Google to associate with your brand. Fortunately this is a pretty easy process (unlike most new Google bells and whistles). Here are the steps to activate:
Under the Channel Settings section of the Admin tab (in the View column), you will find a new option to Manage Branded Terms. Google will likely have already suggested a few terms for you to add (these suggestions are based on site interactivity and I have found them to be extremely accurate).
Once setup is complete it can be a few days before Analytics begins reporting out the data. When it does, you will find that what use to be the all-encompassing Paid Search channel will be segmented into Generic Paid Search and Brand Paid Search (Reporting > Acquisition > Channels).
Now you can quickly and easily analyze the level of interactivity of your non-branded paid search traffic. Is it performing as well as you once thought?