google search

What is branded search?

Google Search Console tracks the number of impressions and clicks for your website in search results, otherwise known as organic search. Typically, organic search falls into two categories: branded and non-branded search.

What is Branded Search?
Branded search refers to keywords that include the name of the company, or a variation of the name, in query results. For many local businesses, the majority of search traffic comes from branded keywords such as business directions, business website, business phone number, business locations, etc.

Non-branded search refers to queries that do not include the company name, or a variation of the company name in search results. Google Search Console filters make it easy to include and exclude specific keywords in your results. 

By looking at results with your company name included, or branded search results, you can see what questions related to your company people are searching for answers to, and the pages pages from your website Google is listing as a result.

Any search that includes your company name should by default list your company on the very first page of Google, and most likely as the very first search result. If that’s not the case, then you have some work to do.

Since searches including your company name are looking for results from your website, this is the easiest place to start in optimizing your website for organic search traffic. 

If you find that there are lots of searches including your company name for information not on your website, then that’s usually a good place to start adding new content to your site. 

For example, if you’re a local business and search console query data reveals a lot of people looking for company name + locations, you should add a locations page to your website. The new page will help you rank higher for that specific search term and it will also bring organic traffic from new search terms related to your locations.

Once the new page is live, get it ranking as quickly as possible by using the URL inspection tool. It lets you test new URLs to see exactly what Google sees when it crawls your webpage. Once you’ve inspected the URL, you can request indexing for that specific page. It’s also a good idea to update your sitemap as you add new content to your website.

Non-branded Search

Now that you’ve added some additional pages to your website and you’re ranking well for all your branded search terms, you’ll spend the rest of your time focusing on non-branded search.

Non-branded search terms are more general topics and, as a result, more difficult to rank for because they apply to more than just your company. Here’s an example to help illustrate the difference.

QueryAvg. searches per monthKeyword difficultyType
Javier’s HVAC Pros Locations100Branded
Air conditioning repair in las vegas1,50027Non-branded

For HVAC repair companies in las vegas, the table above shows two different types of keywords that potential customers are searching for. The first search, Javier’s HVAC Pros Locations, contains a branded search term meaning that the customer who’s doing the search is already familiar with Javier’s company. For the owner of Javier’s HVAC Pros, this would be an easy keyword to rank for because there’s not a lot of other companies competing for this keyword. As a result, the keyword difficulty, a zero to 100 scale, is low.

The second search, Air conditioning repair in las vegas, is a non-branded search term meaning that the customer is looking for any company in las vegas that provides air conditioning repair. Since the second search is more common, there will be more people searching for it every month. But since the search applies to more businesses, it also means that it will be more difficult to rank for because there’s more competition in search results.

Search engine optimization means constantly finding the balance between easy-to-rank-for keywords with low search volume, and high volume, impossible-to-rank-for keywords. Understanding the difference between branded and non-branded search terms helps guide your focus by giving you a starting point (branded search).

In the next lesson you’ll learn how to turn non-branded keywords into a content strategy by identifying search intent. You’ll learn the difference between long tail keywords and head terms and exact levels of search volume and keyword difficulty to target based on your domain authority.