I was talking to my brother the other night and somehow we got on the conversation of online advertising and not wasting money. Somewhere in the midst of this discussion I gave an example of making sure you are not paying for visits when a searcher is putting your business name in their search phrase. This is a waste of your money, because the intended user already knows they want to go to your site. Why not let them click the free organic link? In a very quick response he came back with a great analogy: “That is like giving every customer that walks in your door a dollar for showing up when they intended to anyways.”

When is paying for your company name in search a waste money?
When a consumer is directly putting a company name in a search, they already know where they want to go or who they want to do business with. They have completed most of the buying funnel and have come to the conclusion that your business is the one they want to patron. With search engines getting really good at page rank relevance, it is a safe bet that your company’s website will already be a top result in the organic listings. If there just happens to be a paid advertisement from your business on the same page, they might be compelled to click on that instead of the free listing link – it would be higher up on the page and easier to click on.

When is it NOT a waste?
In most cases, paying for your company name in search is a waste of money. However, there are a few instances when you should. If your keyword is very competitive, or your competitors are buying your business name to target their ads, you should continue to buy traffic for it. Or, if you are not ranking highly in organic search, you should keep your company name as the keyword. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to delete your company name from your keywords.

What to do?
If you are managing your own CPC campaign, you want to delete any keywords with your company name and also add a negative phrase-matched keyword for your business name. Adding the negative keyword is the important part since the searcher might be using your name in a phrase which could actually be part of your keyword list.

For example, lets say I was running an ad for “d2labs web marketing”. If I was running a CPC campaign for “web marketing” then I would want my ad to show up when someone searched for “web marketing,” but I would not want my ad to show up for “d2Labs web marketing.” I would add a negative keyword for “d2labs” because I already show up as the 1st organic search result for “d2labs web marketing.” The intended searcher already knows they want to find d2labs, so I let the search engines do their magic and give me a free visit instead of possibly paying for a visit through my CPC ad.

Going back to my brother’s analogy, paying for a click when someone is searching for your name is like giving a customer a dollar every time they have already walked in the door. Don’t waste your money, and make sure your paid search advertising campaigns are on track.

Eric Patterson is a developer for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry. He is also a Google Analtyics qualified individual.