This is quite a debate! There are pros and cons to both unique brand names and keyword-focussed brand names. Keywords in a brand name can help with ranking, but have the downside that when your audience googles your brand name, they can’t find you. A unique brand name will mean that when your audience googles your brand name, they will find you easily, but dominating SEO for competitive keyword within your industry will take a little more work.
At Kalicube, we generally recommend a unique name since in the long run, the pros outweigh the cons. That said, each case is unique, so reading this article and the case studies we have written will help you make the best decision for your specific case.
In this article I will run through some of the pros and cons of each, which will be helpful if you are currently choosing a name for your brand. If you are already using a name, then one of these case studies will interest you:
- How BackPacker Job Board takes advantage of its keyword-focussed brand name in 2022>>
- How Kalicube leverages its unique brand name>>
Why Do Some Companies Have Keyword-Focussed Names?
Companies who chose their name based on “say in your name what you do” in order to be clear with their prospects and (often) to game Google’s simplistic algorithms that tended to favour company names that contained the keywords users searched.
For example “Car Dealership Austin” would have been a great business name in this context: prospects know immediately what the company does, and Google will have often given preferential treatment in its algorithms to the domain http://cardealershipaustin.com for searches such as “Best car dealership in Austin” or “car dealership near me” for someone searching in Austin, Texas.
Why Can Keyword-Focussed Brand Names Backfire?
So far, so good. But there have always been downsides. And today there are more.
Keyword Focussed Brand Names: Brand SERPs
One downside to this tactic has always been what people see when they google the brand name. A generic term like this is ambiguous and so ranking #1 on Google your own brand name is not a “won battle”, and controlling the entire Brand SERP is very, very difficult. It is possible, however.
Keyword Focussed Brand Names: SEO
Google’s algorithms have evolved – since 2015 with Humminbird, and then Rank Brain, BERT and other revolutionary changes in technology and Machine Learning, Google is no longer the simplistic machine it was in the past. It no longer simply matches what the user typed into the search box with the words in the Company Name.
It understands that the name represents a business and attempts to understand who the business is. That means the advantage brought by matching “query-word-to-brand-name-words” is lost. And only the disadvantage represented by the difficulty in managing, dominating and controlling the Brand SERP remains.
Do I need to Change my Keyword Focussed Company Name?
Not necessarily. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of changing your company name, the cost of reprinting promotional materials, changing references to the company on and offline, and any negative effect a change might have on your SEO and social media efforts. In short, you need to consider the financial and time investment a change would require and evaluate the potential damage to your current marketing efforts (on and offline). The foundational question is: do you have the resources you will need to make the switch?
You Can Change the Brand Name to Something Unique
You can. This is a massive and expensive undertaking. Offline, you’ll need new headed paper, business cards, signs, adverts, legal papers to complete… Online you’ll need to redesign your website, change domain name, change references there, update social channels, update profile pages (Crunchbase, Wikidata, review platforms…), and all references on third party sites (articles, forums, videos, podcasts…), and much more. This is a massive, time consuming and expensive task.
There is a risk that Google loses track of your brand, doesn’t digest the domain change and that your SEO performance nose-dives. So not only is it a massive task, it is also a huge risk.
If you choose this route, then Kalicube Pro offers a simple solution that makes updating your entire digital ecosystem with the new brand name in just a few days (rather than the months it would take otherwise). In addition, we provide consultancy for changing your domain name seamlessly without Google losing track. This is the only way to ensure your SEO doesn’t nosedive.
This approach requires a clear brand message, focussed topicality and consistency in all communication. Here is a case study (link to Kalicube case study) that shows how this can be done.
You Can Retain the Company Name and Leverage Some Benefits
This solution takes a lot of work but can pay massive dividends. You can dominate and control your Brand SERP (thus taking care of bottom and post funnel audiences googling your brand name).
The benefit you can leverage is that because your company name explains clearly to your prospects exactly what you can offer them, and people react positively to such close associations, you can retain that advantage (especially if your competitors choose option (1) and change their company name.
Further, when this is done exceptionally well, your brand will appear prominently in multiple Google results for generic terms around the company name in the form of Knowledge Panel, Videos Boxes, blue links, Featured Snippets and much, much more.
This approach requires a great deal of intricate work that you must maintain month after month, year after year. Here is a case study (link to Dominating with an ambiguous name) that shows how this can be done.