Have you ever played the word association game? You know the one: where someone rattles off a list of words and you say the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word. For example, kittens = cuddly, rain = cloud, spiders = creepy.


This isn’t just a teambuilding activity or an exercise that therapists use to tap into your unconscious mind. It can also be a great exercise when it comes to thinking about your online brand. Your brand name and the words that people associate with it are important. Why? Because they can help make up your branded keywords.

WHAT is in a name…. or a branded keyword?

For those of you who are familiar with what a branded keyword is, go ahead and scroll down to HOW section. But for those of you who aren’t (or just want a refresher) stick around!

Branded keywords are the words or phrases that people type into search engines that include, your brand name and any variations (including common misspellings), and products that you sell or services you offer. Specific phrases also fall under this umbrella of branded keywords. These phrases can also be referred to as long-tail keywords or brand-plus keywords. For Apple, some of their brand-plus keywords could be:

  • iPhone 7 reviews
  • Apple customer support
  • iTunes special offers

HOW do you find your branded keywords?

Figuring out the first part of your long-tail branded keywords is simple, since it is your brand name or the name of one of your specific products or services. Figuring out the second part, the associating phrase, can be a bit trickier. Here are a few things you can do to figure out your long-tail keywords:

Google It!
The easiest thing to do is type in the name of your company, product or service and see what Google pulls in to autocomplete your search. While this might seem like the easy way out, it’s not! It shows you what people are ACTUALLY searching for. 

Investigate social media!
Spend some time perusing the wide world of social media. Look at your own profiles to see the language that people are using when they interact with your brand. But don’t just stop there, look at the profiles of your competitors or industry forums.

If you want an even more in-depth look at what people are saying about your brand and the language they are using, consider investigating sites that have more of message board format, like Reddit.

WHEN should you use branded keywords?

Let branded keywords be your guide to content creation. Once you have a grasp on your best branded keywords, it’s time to start putting them to good use.  A good place to start is by adding them into your digital content. Since they are the EXACT words your prospective customers are using, they can help you create content that your audience will find valuable and clear up any questions they might have. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Are there certain questions that you came across a number of times in your research? Create a blog post or FAQ section on your site to answer them.
  • If there are certain products or services that people are searching for a lot, make sure information about them is easily accessible and prominently displayed on your site.  One item that falls into this category are pricing and pacakge details. Having this type of information easily accessible is crucial, since it can be a determining factor in purchasing decisions. 
  • Did you come across any long-tail keywords that aren’t as positive as you might like. For example, “Product XYZ poor quality” Don’t hide from it, own it. Create content that clears up any misconceptions or addresses any common issues.  Make sure others aren’t running the conversations about your brand. 

Keep in mind that it’s important not to stuff content full of branded keywords, as it can come off as very self-promoting. Strike a balance between branded and generic keywords.

Learning the words and phrases that your customers use to navigate to your site is just one aspect of really getting to know your customers. Want to learn even more about them? We have just the tool to help!