Branded Traffic: The Powerful SEO Ranking Factor You’re Overlooking

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Backlinks.  On Page keywords.  Internal links.  Anchor text. Pagespeed optimization.  You know what all these website ranking factors have in common?

Website operators (SEOs) have the ability to easily change / alter them and they have no reflection of how actual users value the website.  

That’s counter intuitive to the mission of Google search.  Google wants to display the best web pages to the users… not the webpage that SEOs want to users to find.  

Behold ‘Branded Traffic’.

Branded traffic sends a powerful, positive signal that the website is valuable enough for people to directly seekout, and it can not be easily impacted / manipulated by SEO’s.

SEMrush report of the branded / non-branded search traffic to the website
SEMRush directly reports branded search volume.

If you do any SEO competitive research, I guarantee you will find that the websites that have been at the top for a long time, have relatively high branded search traffic.

What is branded traffic?

Branded traffic is the combination of people actually typing your brand name or keyword into Google to find your website specifically.  

There are two types of branded keywords.  First there are those that include your brand name and then branded keywords that you create.

An example of a branded keyword that includes your branded name would be ‘Coreys Plumbing Business Tampa Fl’.  This is rather straightforward.  People know your business or website and seek it out.

An example of a branded keyword you create would be the ‘Skyscraper Technique’ by Brian Dean.  He created a concept and then branded it.  People typing in ‘Skyscraper technique’ wanted to find his website.

Now you might be thinking “that’s great but I want new users to find my website on Google”.  Let me address that…

Why is branded traffic powerful?

Here’s the thing, a person typing in your branded keywords indicates that your website is valuable enough that people remember it and want to find it for some reason.  Therefore other people will probably find it valuable and Google will serve content on that website up to others.

Think about it, when you find a website that is valuable, you remember it, and type it in directly to go back to it.  On the flip side, that random SEO website you found, loaded with ads and some generic info, provided absolutely zero value – you’ll never remember it nor type in its brand name as a keyword.  

Websites that have branded search volume are exactly what Google wants to serve to their users.  

Personally speaking when it comes to ‘website investing’ I would never buy a website that does not have branded search volume as websites that have not established a brand are simply a leach on Google traffic.

A quick word on manipulation of this.

Yes I am aware there are bots that can search branded terms and click the appropriate result – and that this service is being sold.  However, Google can easily decipher what is coming from real people and automated systems by analyzing how much data they have on the searcher.  No secret Google has countless data points on everyone, unless you proactively try to hide (a very minute percentage of the population) or you’re a bot that has ‘no data’.  Even at my low level I employ this concept of ‘how many data points’ a user has to filter bots out of my paid advertising – Google is certainly doing at a much higher level.

Now let’s talk about how to increase brand search volume.

This is something I’ve thought a lot about and am working on for my content brands.  Here are some ideas.

Branding your own conceptual ideas.  As Brian Dean did with the Skyscraper technique.

Providing a service people continuously seek out.  For example when I need to run payroll for my business I need to go to the website of Gusto.  Sometimes I type it in directly to the URL bar and other times it’s Google.  

Serving Valuable Content By Email.  This keeps your brand name front of mind and people will remember the value and insight you provide. I know personally there are a few content brands that I remember and seek out because they have great emails.

Paid traffic.  I am a big paid traffic guy.  I love the scale, the sustainability, and the fact that it is backed by quantitative analysis.  Regardless of how you slice and dice it, SEO is purely theoretical.

Audio and video ads are the direction I am going with it.  Running ads that consistently mention the brand name and then instruct the audience to Google ‘brand name’ when they have a need or want to take the offer.  From there a conversion event can be triggered when that user comes to your website from organic search so the ad platform algorithm serves the ad to more people that remember and seek out the brand directly by search.  This concept could be applied to Facebook / insta ads, Google video ads, tiktok ads and many of the new streaming service ads platforms that are in their infancy 

About the Author

I have been in the 'online business' space since 2009 when I started an eCommerce business selling motorcycle parts (sold in 2012). Since then I have owned and operated several successful online business (and had a fair share of failures), along with owning offline home services businesses. Currently my focus is online businesses that are profitable with paid traffic. As a 'self employed individual' I do not use Linkedin, but you can connect with my on my personal instagram and youtube which largely revolve around my mountain biking passion!