Rule #1: Buy your brand as keyword

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Question: Should I buy my brand name as a keyword in Overture and Google?

Answer: Ah, yes, the age-old question that comes up in every search strategy meeting: "Should we purchase our brand name in Google and Overture?" The answer is a resounding, "Yes, yes, yes!" Let's take a quick look at why it's important.

Search engine marketing is an extremely influential medium for defining, redefining, enhancing and protecting a company's brand image online. According to a recent study by the IAB and Nielsen//NetRatings, 27% of survey respondents were more likely to name a specific brand if it was in the top spot of the search results page.

While TV, print and radio do an excellent job conveying the look, feel and imagery of your brand, hundreds-if not thousands-of people every day are out there searching for your brand and are looking to interact with you through your Web site. Searchers expect to find your Web site at the top of the search results. Perception is key in a potential buyer's mind. If you are not found, what does that say about your company? Do not let these people get away or, worse, find a competitor's Web site.

If you're not purchasing your own brand name, trust me, someone else will-whether it's an affiliate (to whom you're giving a nice chunk of your budget to bring you leads) or a competitor. There have been many highly publicized lawsuits of late challenging the validity of purchasing another company's brand name, but both Google and Overture have made it widely known that the onus lies with the company itself to protect its brand and trademarks. The search engines are not actively policing your trademark or brand policies.

Corporate marketers need to be on the offensive when it comes to brand protection by aggressively pursuing a tight keyword plan to help weed out those who inflict harm on their brand.

As search engine marketing evolves and changes with every passing week, branding remains consistent. Using every available tool to help promote and protect your brand will ultimately make your search efforts more successful and help you achieve your business goals and objectives.

Melissa Burgess is director of business development at IMPAQT, a search solutions provider based in Pittsburgh. She can be reached at

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