Whether you’re a website owner or a digital marketer, you likely spend a significant amount of time working on digital marketing strategy. That likely includes developing and tweaking your organic search traffic techniques, including search engine optimization (SEO).
However, one important part of organic search traffic that you may be overlooking is branded search terms, like your company or product’s name.
In this post, I’ll introduce you to branded search traffic share and its importance for your marketing strategy, including a look at how three popular digital marketing companies manage their branded traffic.
What is Branded Search Traffic Share and Why is it Important?
Branded search traffic is the traffic that comes to your website via a branded keyword search on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is typically calculated over a period of time (e.g., month, quarter).
An example of a branded keyword search for my website would be “neil patel,” or “neil patel blog,” or even “Ubersuggest”:
Now you might expect that I own 100% of the search traffic on the SERPs for branded searches. That’s not always exactly the case, which is why digital marketers track something called branded search traffic share.
Branded search traffic share is the distribution of total monthly organic traffic that lands on a page for your branded keywords.
Let’s say a user searches “neil patel” on Google.
A branded search result is one that leads directly to the brand’s website—in this case, neilpatel.com—or a branded social media profile. In the case of “neil patel,” we see six results out of the top 10 results are branded. This means I own 60% of the branded search traffic share for the keyword “neil patel.”
Why is this important?
If a consumer is shopping for a digital marketing tool, they may begin by searching something like “digital marketing tool” or “SEO tool.” They’re in the research phase of the journey.
As they do more research and understand the tools better, they will start to get more specific in their search terms. This includes the use of branded search terms, such as “MOZ SEO tool” and “Semrush keyword” as they further their research.
Now ask yourself, at which of the two stages above is the consumer more likely to convert?
By the time they’re searching branded search terms, they’re much closer to the bottom of the funnel, which is known to convert at 25 times the rate of mid to top of funnel queries.
This is why branded search terms are important for your brand.
If a competitor is ranking on your branded search results pages, they have a chance of converting the customer to their own brand. When you own the share of that SERP, though, then the conversion is more likely to be your own.
What We Found Looking At The Branded Search Traffic Share of 3 Top SEO Brands
To further highlight the importance of brand search traffic share, the NP Digital team analyzed the percent share of branded traffic for three well-known brands. We did so utilizing the Traffic Share by Pages report in Ahrefs:
The goal here is to assess branded SERP dominance and overall health. In an ideal world, branded queries only yield branded results. However, there are some outliers that might place another website in branded search.
In this case, NP Digital delved into three well-known SEO brands—Semrush, MOZ, and HubSpot—to determine their branded search traffic share.
Before we dive in, though, let’s define some terms:
- Position: Shows the search ranking position for the URL. If the URL is ranking in sitelinks, it will get the ranking position of the main search result.
- Page: The page of a website that ranks for your target keywords in organic search results.
- Share: The distribution of total monthly organic traffic that lands on a page for your target keywords.
- Traffic: The estimated monthly organic search traffic that a page gets from search for your target keyword.
Are you ready to see which of these three brands dominates their branded SERP without outliers? Let’s find out!
Semrush: Branded Share Dominance
Semrush is a popular keyword research and online ranking data software as a service (SaaS) platform based in the US. They have hundreds of thousands of users who use their platform regularly for SEO research.
So where do they stand on branded search traffic share?
The first step in our process is to input Semrush’s domain into Ahrefs to first determine its top five organic keywords as well as their top pages. For many domains, this is likely to be the brand name and their homepage. Semrush follows suit here, as you can see below:
Now that we have determined Semrush’s top branded keyword, let’s dive into how much traffic share they receive from the branded query.
To do so, we headed over to the “Traffic share by pages” report and queried “semrush.” What does this report tell us? Remember that the definition of “share” is “the distribution of total monthly organic traffic that lands on a page for your target keywords.” This means that the share percentage will tell us what percentage of total organic traffic landed on that page via the target keyword.
As we can see above, Semrush owns most of its branded traffic share. For our purposes, any URLs that are Semrush branded (such as social media) count towards the branded traffic share since the traffic will still go to their brand (and even ultimately their domain). Pages such as Wikipedia do not count as that traffic share does NOT go to the Semrush domain. You’ll also note Ahrefs is reporting multiple instances of the same URL or like URLs in the same position.
In this scenario, Semrush owns about 99.01 percent of branded traffic share for the query “semrush.” Wikipedia is owning roughly 0.09 percent of traffic share. Overall, Semrush owns their branded SERP in a dominant fashion. It’s important to note that although Wikipedia is present on the Semrush branded SERP, having a Wikipedia page is a strong branded play despite taking away a small SERP percentage.
MOZ: Notable Competitors In Branded Share
MOZ is an SEO services and consulting firm founded by renowned digital marketer Rand Fishkin.
We placed MOZ into Ahrefs to determine their top organic keyword and pages. No surprise, “MOZ” is the number one organic keyword and the top five pages are all MOZ domain URLs:
With such a strong show, you would think that means MOZ owns its branded SERP. Is that the case?
It’s true that MOZ owns more than 99 percent of branded traffic share, just like Semrush. However, as we dove into the top pages based on the keyword “MOZ,” we saw positions 6 and 9 were being lost to non-MOZ domains.
More specifically, the sixth position on SERPs is an article by Backlinko, “The Complete Guide to Moz Pro.” The ninth position on SERPs is an article by Webfx, “What is MOZ and How Can It Help My Marketing Strategy.”
While you may be thinking that’s just free advertising, it is cutting into MOZ’s branded traffic share. This means they are losing traffic for their own branded term and SERP. So an obvious option here would be to create its own guides that compete with Backlinko’s and Webfx’s.
Note: For our analysis, we are counting branded social media pages towards the branded traffic share as mentioned previously. We are not counting pages like Chrome Extension download pages (position 8 on “MOZ” SERP) because these do not ultimately lead to the brand’s domain.
With all the above said, MOZ still has a firm hold on its branded SERP with some room for improvement with competitors attempting to populate their SERP.
HubSpot: A Strong Branded Search Traffic Share Example
HubSpot is renowned as one of the premier digital marketing resources in the world. This is very apparent when looking at the monthly branded search volume for their brand’s name.
Once we placed “HubSpot” into the Ahrefs keyword explorer and navigated to traffic share by pages, we were able to see how HubSpot’s branded search traffic share played out.
In the above screenshot, we can clearly see HubSpot owns a large portion of their SERP, similar to prior brands analyzed. It is important to note that position 7 is owned by WordPress for a HubSpot plugin and position 9 is owned by Software Advice speaking to HubSpot’s SaaS solution pricing. Although these SERP listings do have a connotation of branded traffic share, it does not drive traffic share to the domain of HubSpot. With that said, Hubspot could work to create its own branded pricing page and perhaps a plugin/CMS integration page to own those positions as well.
What Did Our Data Show Us About Branded Search Traffic Share?
Each of the analyzed brands has a strong hold on their branded SERP for their top-performing branded keyword, but which wins the branded search traffic share based on Ahrefs data outputs? Well, they all have 100 percent of their branded SERPs based on the traffic share percent Ahrefs has calculated.
Although traffic share percent drastically decreases past the 3rd SERP position, we can still clearly see external competitors populating the SERP. Statistically speaking, click-through rate (CTR) drastically decreases further down in the SERP, so it holds suit that some of the competitors encroaching on branded SERPs receive some (but not a lot) of traffic share. This is not to say that they receive NO traffic share from their competitors’ branded SERP.
While there is no clear winner, MOZ has two very strong competitors who are populating their branded SERP. HubSpot has two non-branded websites populating their SERP, however, these websites are highlighting their company and plugin. Similar to HubSpot, Semrush has Wikipedia on their branded SERP but it’s speaking about their own brand.
Using Branded Search Traffic Share To Benefit Your Business
While brands as popular as Semrush, MOZ, and HubSpot have a significant share of their branded SERPs, that’s not the case for many others.
No matter your brand’s size, it’s safe to say you don’t want your competitors or other websites populating your branded SERPs, because they can steal traffic away from you.
So how can you use branded search traffic share to benefit your business?
The first step is to find out just how much share you have for your top branded search terms. For those terms with the least amount of share, you will want to prioritize your SEO efforts. However, you should be sure to optimize all of your branded search terms on a regular basis to ensure you’re not losing share over time.
The next step is to incorporate branded search terms into your marketing strategy.
Branded search terms are often considered to be an ace in the hole. As your analysis has likely shown you, though, you may have some branded terms that aren’t performing so well.
This is why you need to optimize search for branded terms with the same regularity as you do non-branded terms. What does this look like?
- Update your title tags. By adding a hyphen or line break and your brand name for all title tags on your website, you increase the odds of ranking for branded search terms on SERPs.
- Claim your Google Business Profile. If you have a physical address, then consider claiming your Google Business Profile. This will allow you to appear in Google Maps results, even if just for the city you provide services (as opposed to a specific address).
- Diversity branded content. Images, videos, and news results are a great way to expand your branded search term reach. Consider developing branded content in different ways to show in different results formats.
- Create a FAQ page. To increase the odds of appearing in a featured snippet, answer popular branded queries using a FAQ page on your website.
These techniques combined with an overarching branded search term strategy will increase your branded traffic share. This will benefit your business by increasing visibility and improving conversions for those consumers who are lower in the shopping funnel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Branded traffic is traffic that comes to your website through a branded keyword on a search engine results page. This can be organic traffic or paid traffic.
Branded search traffic share is the percentage of a search engine results page that your brand “owns” for a branded search term. For example, if your website or branded social media is seven out of the 10 results on a branded keyword’s search results page, then you have 70 percent branded search traffic share.
Even digital marketing giants like Semrush, MOZ, and HubSpot don’t own all of the search results on their branded SERPs. However, they do dominate those SERPs with more than 99 percent of branded search traffic share.
Fortunately, you can do the same if you’re more intentional in your branded search optimization. It will take time to see the results, but the investment is well worth it to drive more brand traffic to your site.
Do you have questions about how you can use branded search traffic to benefit your business? Leave it in the comments below.
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