Analysing Brand vs Generic Keyword Performance

Breaking down your GSC into brand vs generic keyword performance can give you a better insight into how an SEO campaign is going.

Most SEO activity won’t be affecting the brand too much, as it will be more to drive performance increased within the generic keywords.

Whilst you’ll get a flow-on effect, in that as generic performance improves, more traffic will then drive brand marketing essentially, increasing return visits via branded search.

That takes time though.

You’ll also want to monitor rankings separately, and rankings for brand-related keywords will bring down(up?) the average, and hide some of the generic keyword performance.

My first analysis like this many years ago took quite a while to figure out.

Now, they’re like 30 minutes.

Definitely a worthwhile analysis, considering how short they are.

What are brand keywords?

Brand keywords are any keywords that include your brand name.

This could include both brand + generic phrases, as long as there is a mention of your direct brand in the keyword it’s a branded keyword.

It also includes anything that should include the brand, and by that I mean misspellings. Whilst you might think there are 3 ways to spell your brand, I can assure you the internet will come up with 50 more.


What are generic keywords?

A generic keyword is any keyword that does not include a mention of the brand.

It’s basically the “everything else” bucket for this analysis.

There could be keywords mentioning other competitors, or other brand names from what you sell, but these will still be classed as generic (although, you could further categories these later to get additional insight).


Why analyse brand vs generic keyword performance?

There are two main reasons I like to do these analyses.

Brand vs Generic keyword split

Initially, they’re great to set the default pre-SEO brand vs generic split percent.

As your generic SEO activity increases, the assumption here is that the generic keywords will improve performance more than the brand. You would then see an increase in the overall % of the generic keywords.

You can then trend this monthly, and just add something else to the list to help show any performance increases.

Exclude branded keywords from GSC data

The other reason is to essentially just exclude brand performance from GSC data.

Sometimes brand performance, particularly spikes from campaigns, can mess with the GSC data.

Excluding these branded keywords can help you get a more accurate overview of ranking performance for the keywords you’re targeting.


How to do a Brand vs Generic keyword analysis

1. Use your favourite GSC data exporter to get a dataset of Query, Clicks, and Impressions. I personally use Search Analytics for Sheets, and would only select the latest 3 months of data, or even just the latest month if the sites big enough, to ensure that the analysis is with recent data. You could rerun with older data to compare.

2. Copy my Google sheet from the below link

3. Import your data into the rows highlighted below. If you have included CTR & Av rank then just ignore them, but most exporters by default will include that data so we may aswell save it for later.

4. Enter variations of you’re brand terms into the K column, and then mark them as ‘Branded’. These should be the shortest variations you can come up with, that still ensure generic keywords don’t get included. Leave the cells below it, as the formula will just fall back to ‘Generic’ when a brand seed word isn’t found. You should only really be adding 5-10 to start, and can come back and refine it to more later on.


5. (OPTIONAL) If you’d like to get deeper insight, add some categories & sub-categories into their columns. This will help you break the performance down by category, if that’s something you think would be useful for your brand.

6. Visit the ‘analysis’ tab to have a brand vs generic performance overview pivot table ready for you

One caveat to this is that due to exporting query performance data, you have a limited click count. Large portions of longer tail keywords are excluded from query exports, so whilst this % is a good indication, it should be used as only that and not a source of “truth”.

You will be able to see this shift over time though, as both branded and generic keywords will get excluded.

You can read more about that here under the ‘queries’ expander.

Monthly Brand vs Generic Keyword Analysis

This can be extended to include monthly data, and I might extend the Google Sheet later if I get a few asking for it.

Just throw on a month row, ensure your data exports are monthly, and then just add them all together in the same sheet with each different set having its associated month added.


Just another insight you can provide

Overall, this is just another little insight you can provide your clients, and hopefully, another metric you can just keep an eye on.


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