Keywords used on search engines that referred traffic to a site are usually listed in the traffic source section of the analytics tools. These keywords are very insightful because it allows you to know what users search online to arrive at your site.
We need to remember that your site content that are available to internet users determines the keywords users will use to arrive at your site. That will we based on various factors from Page Rank, external links, content relevancy, etc. (SEOMoz has great content regarding SEO). Therefore, “what” is available on your site will contribute to “what” you’ll find in analytics tool under search engine keywords referrals.
One reason I am writing about this topic is because analyst could report top popular keywords from search, best converting keywords, keywords with great ROI, etc., but that doesn’t address a common behavioral pattern internet users perform.
For major sites that promote their brand, branded terms from search is pretty important to know. Because if your site’s objective is to build brand awareness and exposures, it’ll be very important to reach audience who are looking for your brand.
If you are trying to reach new consumers who don’t know about your brand, and want them to remember your brand through your site using SEM — it is critical to remember that you’ll need to reach them by promoting search terms that are associated to your brand. For example, for an apparel company, it could be related to a type of cloths (t-shirt, jeans, sweater, etc.).
Once you reached your users, assuming your site did a great job in brainwashing them with your brand and products/services, they will likely and possibly return back to your site (may even buy or convert, too!!) through search terms related to your brand or company’s name.
Here are some steps I would use in approaching to gauge your initiatives in transforming non-branded referrers to your brand referrers.
1) Assess and acquire knowledge on current distribution of users coming from branded keywords vs. non-branded keywords. Let’s say 80% branded vs. 20% non-branded to demonstrate this example.
2) Invest in acquiring traffic from non-branded terms utilizing your data acquired through analytics — perhaps increasing traffic from the long-tail of non-branded keywords segment, participate in PPC campaign, increase content to acquire organic search traffic, etc.
3) Create two segmentations (or simply track) traffic from organic search traffic via non-branded terms, and returning traffic from branded terms.
Note: you can also generally look at overall traffic from search vs. returning traffic via search as well. However, it is advised to look at it more granular.
4) Measure the performance and results against different time. Before vs. After, Month to Month, Week vs. Week, etc.
Hopefully this gives you a different perspective on how you look at branded terms to non-branded terms, and understand how to assess traffic impacted from users converting from non-branded referrer segment to your loyal branded referrer segment.