Posted on November 29, 2016

Should You Be Using Competitor Names as Keywords?

Should You Use Competitor Names as Keywords?

Using your competitor’s name in your keywords list has been a long standing battle in the paid search realm with one side advocating it and the other condemning it. Naturally, if someone is searching online for your direct competitor you may reason that they could use your services too, which is absolutely true. However, there are pros and cons to this approach and Glacial does not recommend it for everyone.

We’ll preface this by saying that Google doesn’t directly say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to this technique. However, they do explain that “Google won’t investigate or restrict the selection of trademarks as keywords, even if we receive a trademark complaint.” This is, as long as you don’t use a Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) ad – You can read more about that here. That said, they do offset this by generally giving the competitors keyword a low quality score – which in turn can show ads less often, make the keyword cost more per click, and can negatively affect the campaign as a whole.

At Glacial, we commonly don’t use our competitors keywords in our Adwords campaigns. Generally speaking when someone searches for your competitors, they already have their minds made up about what they are looking for. This mindset normally produces poor click-through rates and high bounce rates, ending in wasted ad spend. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Targeting the names of larger companies such as TLC or LASIK Plus tend to deliver better results, though these keywords can get expensive quickly. However, in general, using a competitors name as a keyword is typically amongst the worst performing strategies if you are looking to drive traffic and conversions as your goals.

The reason for this is that you do not represent your competitor, and Google knows this. Google’s algorithm is to give the end user the most relevant search results. How relevant is your competitor’s name to your brand? Think of it this way as well: you are basically starting an Adwords bidding war. You are now openly inviting your competition to bid on your name, too, with the hopes they can poach potential clients away from you as well. And if you’re looking to use a name brand, for example LASIK Vision Institute or TLC Vision – generally speaking the company will bid on their own name to drive up costs on a national scale, something you definitely don’t want to compete with on a smaller budget.

Bidding on your competitors keywords can be hit or miss. And even with all these cons it doesn’t mean it’s not worth testing, it just means you may have to put a little more thought into getting an effective response. Using your competitor’s brand may drive awareness for your brand, especially if the user had no idea there were more options out there, essentially piggy-backing on a large franchise’s advertising. Ultimately what it always boils down to with all keywords is to test, evaluate, and then optimize.

Are trying to get the competitive edge with your paid search campaign? Reach out to learn what Glacial Multimedia can do for you!