Glossary: Unbranded Search

Glossary: Unbranded Search


Unbranded Search refers to when a Brand buys general, non-Brand keywords.

Reasons for buying Unbranded Search keywords include:

  • Target the middle and top of the funnel. When we are doing research for a new product/service, we don’t know the domain specific keywords to search for so we start with very generic (even long) descriptive words then look at the results that get returned. Once we see those results, this arms us with more specific keywords that better describe what we are after, and so as our search progresses, the words we use get more specific and more detailed (even if they do not include any brand terms as of yet). Because of this, we can deduce from the type of search queries where each searcher is in the marketing funnel – and provide appropriate advertising to help move them down the marketing funnel.
  • To Compete. If you aren’t buying the unbranded middle and top of the funnel keywords for your niche, chances are your competitors already are. Not only are you trying to reach your target customers, but so too are your competitors, so buying Unbranded Search is also your way of offering a viable alternative to your competitors for your target customer.
Intentional Tips
  • Always be measuring ROI. Even for non Ecommerce businesses, every Conversion should have a Goal Value attached, and the measure of Goal Value driven for Advertising dollars spent allows you to measure ROAS.
  • Always separate Unbranded Search campaigns from Branded Search campaigns
  • Have multiple Unbranded Campaigns that span the gamut of the marketing funnel
  • Have a small number of Single Keyword Ad Groups, grouped by singular search intent, inside each Unbranded Campaign
  • Fill your marketing funnel from the bottom up – in other words, using your Ad Spend to target the most ready to convert potential customers, then working our way up
  • Continuously ‘sculpt’ traffic to ensure the right search queries (& hence the right ads) are being mapped to the right keywords.  
  • Continuously optimising ad spend towards the highest ROAS campaigns by regularly feeding your winners and starving your losers.


  • Don’t have too few Unbranded Campaigns. This practise means you lose visibility over where each keyword (therefore each type of searcher) is in the marketing funnel.
  • Don’t have too many keywords per Unbranded Campaign. This practise means some (perhaps even prize) keywords are being cannibalised by lesser keywords and you have therefore lost control of your marketing funnel.
  • Don’t buy the wrong keywords inadvertently. This commonly happens either because you are buying broad matched keywords that is giving Google license to buy search queries that are related but not actually relevant, or, you are buying the right keywords but are not ‘negativing’ properly so are still showing for close variations that you should not be.
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