SEO KPI: Breaking New Ground with Non-Branded Keywords

The SEO KPI Series is a collection of posts that aim to enable the reader to extract more meaningful statistics from their analytics package.

Branded vs. Non-Branded

In the first part of my KPI series, I’m going to tell you about measuring what we call “Non-Branded” Keywords. To me, this metric does a great job of understanding “pure” organic traffic. For example, you represent the company “Nike”, the branded keywords would be “Nike air”, “Nike golf”, etc. Your on-page SEO optimization could be rather mediocre and you’d still rank quite well for these terms. But what about keywords such as “tennis gear” or “running shoes” which do not include your unique brand name? The terms are far more generic. There’s a good chance the consumer is more likely to have an open mind when it comes to picking a product (or in this case, brand). Being able to identify this sort of search traffic and build on it has a larger potential of bringing you entirely new clients, not just existing clients who want to see what the latest products of a certain brand look like. The traffic you receive from non-branded keywords is in other words directly proportional to how your brand awareness is performing.

Case Study on the Non-Branded KPI

Let’s take some work I did for a client in the tourism sector for example. I exported the data from Google Analytics and had my organic non-branded keyword traffic displayed as a percent of the remaining traffic, in other words Non-Brand Performance = Non-Brand Keyword Traffic / (Total Traffic – Non-Brand Keyword Traffic). Within 4 days of the launch of the updated website, Google took note of the newly optimized pages and started displaying these to people searching. Unfortunately I do not have older data to compare too (except total traffic), but the optimization resulted in 5-10% more traffic instantly for this business situated in a fairly competitive niche. This from one week to the next:

Google Chart

This is an incredible channel for driving traffic to your business, because you’re primarily focusing on people that probably don’t know you or your company (yet ;) ). Optimizing and fighting for the non-branded segment of your industry is a cost-effective manner of raising brand awareness. This KPI can quite quickly confirm what sort of impact your changes are having (given variables don’t move too much, i.e. competitors targeting these keywords through paid search).

Reporting it in Google Analytics

I thought I’d include this in case anyone was interested. To measure the non-branded performance, you’ll want to create a “advanced segment” that targets traffic from an “organic” medium (condition: matches exactly) as well as ignores keywords that have your brand name in it (condition: does not contain, not case sensitive).  This could be a little tougher if you have a brand name that is also a common/generic term, but give it your best shot. Here’s a screenshot:
google analytics non branded keywords kpi

Further Reading