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2nd October 2009 |  Written by Guy Levine

Would you bid in Adwords or optimise for your competitors brand & company name?


This is an interesting and controversial topic which caused a big law suit between Marks & Spencer and Interflora.

Here is the scenario.

You (or your client) wants to appear in the search results for a competitors brand, company name or products. You add them as keywords to your paid search account and start creating and optimising product comparison pages. The competitor starts getting upset and says stop or I will bid on your terms.

Do you keep doing it because it generates traffic? Do you stop because you don’t want the competitor bidding on your keywords?

What would / do you do Please comment below – we will then collate into another post.

Your Comments

  1. Guy,

    wow, taking on bit of a hot topic here!

    As far as PPC campaigns go, yes I have done this in the past and it has generated traffic and income. If those competitors asked me stop, would I? Yes I would, especially as dentistry is a small industry.

    What about SEO, well, no I wouldn’t optimise for a competitor, it seems to me this is going too far. Also if there was a complaint it would be difficult to get the results out of the caches fast enough to prevent a law suit, where as PPC campaigns can be stopped instantly.

    On a similar point though I would optimise a site for a competitor segment i.e. another geographical location or market segment.

    For example lets say I ran a business that operated solely in the high quality, low volume, high cost sector of an industry, I could develop a website for that company optimised for their industry sector… but I would also consider developing another website and optimise for cheap, low cost, high volume work.. on that website one could say “did you know that using low cost is not as good in the long run etc etc” and then point them to my alternate business.

    That is an extreme example and boundaries between sectors are not always that clear, but the principle of optimising for competition is an interesting area with plenty of room for discussion.

    Thanks for starting the debate.

    mark

  2. To Mark’s point, yes, optimizing for a market segment is just good sense. On the other hand, actually using the competitor’s trademarked keywords is bad practice and can backfire quite easily.

    I talk about using competitor names in keywords here and the main point is that in order to make any significant impact, their keywords would have to rival the density on their own site—which has the major downside of taking away from your own brand. After all, any publicity is good publicity, right?

    What if you looked at context? What if it was a comparison of your product and the competitor? That would serve the purpose of filling the page with primo keywords while telling the story you want customers to see. Would that still be considered shady?

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