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October 25, 2006

Brand Naming: Want a Honda? Google “Chocolate”

Honda CraveA recent article in Adweek caught my attention as it discussed the way in which Internet advertisers are buying up search terms that are not necessarily directly associated with their brand names to direct traffic to their site. So, you could do a search for “chocolate”, for the hot new LG mobile phone, and end up at the new Honda SUV site and its “crave” tagline.

The article points out that the challenge lies in reconfiguring the site to offer some kind of relevance to these users who have unexpectedly stumbled across it. I may indeed crave chocolate, or the LG Chocolate mobile phone, in this instance, and see a logical link to “craving” a very sweet SUV. And there is a logic to it: Nike would be crazy not to link to words like “athletics” or “tennis” or “basketball” or even “air,” just as it has failed to nail down the keywords to its own “I feel pretty” tagline.

For those who are interested, there is an excellent post entitled “The Long Tail of Natural Search” that goes into much more depth on the topic. It seems very clear that “branded” keywords are simply the thin edge of the wedge. If you only buy the keywords to your brand name or product name, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Non-branded keywords account for 5 times more searches than branded keywords - meaning that if you are Nike, you are five times more likely to get buyers who have clicked in “sneakers” or “running shoes” or “sweat” than the word “Nike.”

But there is much more to this game than simply buying up keywords and hoping they will randomly help build your brand name. You must have a dynamically changing web page that also attracts search engines.

And for those of you who are running e-commerce sites, things get yet trickier - just intercepting customers and gaining engagement is not enough; you need people who want to buy. In fact, randomly buying keywords could have the exact opposite effect, as the Farhad points out on Links Collector. He also suggests you buy “negative keywords” to actually discourage irrelevant searches.

Go figure.

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Posted by William Lozito at October 25, 2006 11:37 AM
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