As we wrote in our May 2008 blog post, there are some very good reasons and best practices for having your company name as keywords to trigger search engine PPC ads. However, there are also some potential “gotchas” that online advertisers and buyer of leads should be aware of. Essentially, you want to make sure your company is making the most of these tactics, but not unknowingly paying for search traffic on your company name, especially at a premium price or mixed in with new customer acquisition reports.

Internet Search Engines – Used Like Telephone White Pages

For some businesses, a significant number of online searches are for the company’s name. Basically, these searchers use Internet search engines like the white pages of the phone book. Search marketers call these “recovery” searches (as opposed to “discovery” or “functional” searches where potential customers search for features or benefits of a product or service). For well-established local companies, we’ve seen recovery searches run as high as 20% or more of the total monthly phone calls or online inquiries.

Example from a Local Search Company

A few weeks ago, while doing research for an upcoming new client of ours, we noticed a tactic being used by a company we’ll describe as “a major provider of local search”. To clarify this example, we’ll call the local search company the “provider” and their client the “advertiser”. As part of the advertising program, the provider set up a profile type web page for one of the advertiser’s well-established locations. (Each city’s location of this advertiser had different names that reflect local home services companies they had acquired).

The provider optimized the advertiser’s profile page to be found for the advertiser’s specific location name in natural search results. The result: the provider’s web page came in above the advertiser’s own corporate website in natural search results. The provider also used the company’s name as keywords to trigger text ads. We find this situation to be significant for the following reasons:

  • If the provider’s profile page had not been there, any potential customer would have found the advertiser’s own page in natural results anyway. The company name was unique with no common keywords in it.
  • The provider’s directory page did not get first page results for functional searches like it did for recovery searches in natural results. (If it had, its presence would have been easier to understand or justify.)
  • In their reporting of results, the provider co-mingled the results (phone calls or online leads) from their profile page in natural results with those from ad traffic.
  • The provider does not supply the advertiser with a breakdown of how many leads (from either ads or natural results) come from correctly spelled recovery searches of the advertiser’s name vs. actual new clients acquired from discovery or functional searches.
  • The example above involves advertisers paying for traffic, but a similar situation occurs when a company is paying by the lead. If you hire a lead generation company to provide customer leads, you should set guidelines and specify reports that clarify if or how much you are paying for leads gathered on your company name.

If you have more examples of useful and not-so-good tactics in this topic, please post them. If you need more clarification, post your question or give us a call.