Bid on Competitors’ Keywords in Google

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Online advertising can be an aggressive and cutthroat arena. Many businesses strive to get to the top rankings of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Google runs an advertiser competition through an auction as a main factor to determine the most relevant ads to show to the searcher. There are businesses that choose to bid on their competitor’s keywords in order to increase their online visibility, utilizing competitors’ brand strength.

Bidding on a competitor’s brand terms is a fairly common and accepted practice.  Another word for it is competitive bidding. Google allows it and has set a list of advertising guidelines that cover this issue. It is legal as long as the business does not mention the other brand in the ad copy itself. Make sure you also refrain from using Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) ads because it will place the search term in the ad, which is your competitors’ brand name – this will lead to you violating a competitor’s copyright and/or trademark.

This approach works best for potential customers who are still searching for brands that provide solutions – at the information collection stage of the funnel. This is the awareness stage when people are searching for answers, resources, user feedback, research data, and other important insights. In marketing terms, this is called early funnel or the top of the funnel.

Consistent with other advanced advertising strategies, there are advantages and disadvantages of bidding on competitor’s keywords. Bidding on a competitors’ keywords incorrectly may have costly consequences.

Here are the main advantages of targeting competitors’’ keywords:

  • Brand name keywords often cost much less. The reason behind this is because there is generally much lower competition when bidding on brand names versus generic keywords. This results in low CPCs (cost-per-click).
  • Improve your brand awareness. This is especially important for relatively new companies who want to introduce their brand to the industry. Prospective customers become aware of new brands when they advertise using their competitors’ keywords. This also gives new brands a chance to promote their products and services.
  • When an up-and-coming brand is contending for market share with a long-established brand, it can ride on the coat-tails of their more popular competitor, taking advantage of their branding and market success. The newer brand will now be more visible to potential new clients.
  • This is an effortless way to get high-quality traffic. Your ads will most likely show up in more relevant searches. Since a good number of clicks will be from users looking for a specific product or service provided by a direct competitor, there is high intention and conversion is a big possibility.

Here are some tips on the right way to bid on competitor’s names and key phrases:

  • Choose competitors wisely, those that will only benefit the target brand. It is not a good idea to compete against everyone.
  • The unique selling point and its competitive advantage should be included in the ad copy – this helps make you stand out against your competitors.
  • Make sure that trademark regulations are not violated.

Competitive bidding is part and parcel of placing advertisements online.  It is practiced in Google AdWords and other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. This strategy has its benefits and when done correctly, may help the business get valuable market share. However, this can be a double-edged sword.  Companies should be mindful of guidelines and abide by them. Before going ahead with competitor keyword bidding, it is a good idea to consult with an AdWords account manager or ad representatives of other search engines to ensure you are taking advantage of your competitors’ brands strategically and legally.

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