Q and A: Should we bid on our own brand name in Google AdWords?

QuestionHey Kalena

Can you please settle an argument we are having in the office?

My boss is suggesting that we should bid on our brand name in AdWords to make sure we come up at the top of Google searches. I don’t think we need to because we are already coming up high in the organic search results for our brand keywords.

Wouldn’t it just be a waste of money to pay for an ad?



Hi Kate

Sorry, but in this case, I agree with your boss :-) .  I think it’s good practice to bid on your own brand with pay per click advertising, for a variety of reasons:

1) Studies have shown that brands that rank high in both organic results AND paid ads receive more conversions than brands that just use one or the other, due to the saturation factor and extra brand exposure gained.

2) Unless you use paid search ads, you cannot guarantee that your brand will show up in the top search results for brand or product related searches. Organic search results will look different for everyone, based on their location, search terms used, their search history and personal preferences. The only way to guarantee a top spot is to pay for it. Also, ads will usually gain more clicks than organic results, depending on their location on the page, so you want to make sure you grab that brand click, no matter what prompts it.

3) You cannot control HOW your site will be shown in the search results unless you use paid advertising. Organic results may display the content of your page title, or a random snippet of text from your page, depending on the assumed context and what the search engine deems to be the most relevant. The organic click may also take visitors to a landing page you didn’t expect. Whereas your paid ad will show your brand in exactly the context you choose and take clickers to your preferred landing page.

4) If you have distributors or affiliates for your brand, it is possible that they may out-rank you in the organic search results for your brand-related keywords, therefore grabbing the click and making the sale, resulting in some loss of $ via commission. Making sure your ads out-rank them means you retain the full $ for any conversions.

If you are still sceptical, may I suggest reading Brad Geddes’ excellent article Should You Bid On A Keyword If You Rank Organically For That Term? where he shares the results of several detailed experiments to debunk the myth of PPC cannibalization.


Like to teach yourself AdWords? Start here.


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Q and A: Is it possible to get my site on the first page of Google in 24 hours without touching it?


Dear Kalena…

I have question on a service that somebody offered me, optimization for organic search results, 24-48 hours first page on Google.

They are a local company and he offerered me to come to his office to fill a form and to answer my questions, he also mentioned that he will not make any changes on my website just he will work to attract the engines to find us for specific key words.

Now, with all I learned so far SEO takes time so what is this guy doing to bring me to the top being so sure and giving me his office address?


P.S. He didn’t want to be specific on the technical part which I understand a little bit since that’s how he makes a living.

Hi Asher

Actually, he didn’t want to be specific on the technical part because he is a scammer trying to rip you off.

Be wary of anyone who won’t tell you the methodology they plan to use. There is absolutely NO reason for secrets in SEO, unless you’re doing something dodgy. Organic optimization is not possible without changing your web site. Let me repeat that. Organic search engine optimization is NOT POSSIBLE without changing your web site.

It sounds like this guy is talking about using Google AdWords to attract traffic to your site but not wanting to tell you this. Run far, far away from him. Or better still, ask him to email you a full technical breakdown of how he is going to place your site on the first page of Google within 24 hours and then forward it to me for giggles.

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Q and A: Is it a good idea to use a different domain for each product?

QuestionHi Kalena

In Lesson 3 of SEO 201, there is a suggestion that “if you sell wool socks AND cotton socks, then have a page dedicated to each kind”.

The owner of the website I’m trying to optimize said that she was once told that it’s a good idea to have several domain names for that same purpose. For example, have a separate domain for wool socks and one for cotton socks. What do you think of that idea?


Dear Jena

I think that’s a terrible idea. You can read up on this issue here but basically, creating multiple sites defeats the whole purpose of trying to attract traffic and promote a single brand. If you have multiple web sites, not only is it confusing to customers, but other sites will be linking back to several sites instead of your main site/brand and that dilutes your link popularity.

Google and other engines will be looking at the number of links your site has pointing to it and if those links are spread across several domains, you will lose trust-rank and therefore won’t rank as highly as you would if all links pointed to your single site.

I understand the desire to rank for several products, but you can easily achieve this on a single domain if you design individual pages for each product and carefully optimize those pages for keywords relating to each. Alternatively, you can use sub-domains for each product which provides the bonus of having each product page sitting at the root level of your site. Google staff actually recommend using sub-domains in this manner.

More information on this issue can be found in these older posts:

Could purchasing and redirecting multiple domains to our main site hurt us from an SEO perspective?

How do we stop our domains from competing with each other for search rankings?

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Q and A: How do I optimize a web site for its geographic location?

QuestionHi Kalena…

I would like to optimize a website for its geographic location. In order to do so, I think I should preface certain home-page keyphrases with the name of the city. I’m wondering if I should repeat this practice throughout the website for better effectiveness, or would this be unnecessary? I’m also wondering please, what is the purpose of the Distribution Meta tag. Please let me know.


Dear Peter

First up, you should be aware (or perhaps you already are) of Google’s new feature that allows webmasters to associate a web site with a region/country.

Regarding how best to optimize a web site for different geographic locations or languages, sub-domains seem to be the way to go, as recommended by Matt Cutts of Google.

But if you are only optimizing for a single city, you should treat that city as another keyword on your page. That is, don’t repeat it ad-nauseum, only where it makes sense to do so. I would recommend no more than 5 repetitions of a target keyword or phrase on a single page. If your whole site content is about the city then it should naturally rank well for city-related phrases anyway as people will be linking to your site using the city name.

Regarding the Distribution META tag, as far as I am aware it is not a valid META tag, is unsupported by any search engine and the myth that you should include one has simply hung around like a bad smell like the Dublin Core META Tags. Skip it – otherwise it will simply contribute to your code bloat.

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Q and A: Are tag clouds acceptable to use on business to business sites?

QuestionDear Kalena…

I would like to know your thoughts on tag clouds. We would like to add one to our careers web site but are being told that this is not an acceptable practice for business to business web sites and we will be black listed by search engines. Is it true that only blogs and internal social networking type sites are “allowed” to use these?


Dear Kerry

Whoever gave you that advice is talking bollocks. For starters, if you use tags or topics on your site, tag clouds are a useful navigation feature to help your site visitors find the topics they are interested in. Tag clouds don’t have to be limited to blogs.

The idea that you will be black-listed by search engines for using tag clouds is utter nonsense! If it makes life easier for your readers to have a tag cloud on your site, go ahead and use one. If anything, a tag cloud will probably make it easier for all your various pages to be indexed by search engines as they are similar to a site map.

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