How to Manage Competitor Activity Around Brand Terms

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Imagine using your favorite search engine to search for your business name, but instead of getting your company’s website as the first hit, you see a competitor. How did this happen, and what can do you do about it? Knowing that your competitors are using your branded terms can be a frustrating experience, and chances are that you have got a lot of questions about the situation. It’s important to know what to do when a competitor of yours is targeting your branded keyword or keywords.

As most of us know, search engine results pages ranking is very important, with more than twenty-five percent of people clicking on the first search result that comes up in Google search. This is even more important when it comes to searches that involve your branded keyword. After all, your brand name is one of the best assets you own.

When it comes to knowing what to do if a competitor is targeting your branded terms in their marketing, you’ll need to understand bidding on branded keywords, what to do when a competitor bids on yours, and if it’s a good idea to bid on competitor keywords.

What Is Bidding on Competitor Keywords?

The idea of your competitors making a profit from your brand name can be quite a scary one. However, the good news is that this happens all the time, and isn’t quite as malicious as it sounds. That being said, however, if you have discovered a competitor targeting your branded keywords, there is no need for you to simply sit back and allow it to happen.

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A bid refers to the amount of money that your business is willing to spend on a click for a given ad. Pay per click ad campaigns feature various ads that use different keyword combinations. All of these come together to make up the total campaign budget. Bids can either be made manually, or you can set them up to happen automatically using a range of automated marketing strategies.

There are different strategies that focus on different outcomes. However, in the case of bidding on either your or a competitor’s branded keywords, the main aim is typically to influence outranking share or the target page location.

Branded keywords refer to keywords used in search that contain a brand or company name. Because of this, bidding on the branded keywords of a competitor will involve placing bids and creating advertisements that allow your company to appear in search, even if the user is searching for a competitor. There are several reasons why a company might do this, including to target a certain audience, to steal traffic from competitors, or as retaliation to a competitor that has done this to them.

What to Do if a Competitor is Using Your Branded Search Terms

Now that you know more about bidding on competitor keywords, it’s time to figure out what you should do if this is happening to your business. Generally, there are three main things that you can do in this situation. These include bidding on your own brand, bidding on the competitor’s brand, or seeking protections for your brand.

Bidding on Your Own Brand

The first thought that many companies might have when in this situation is to bid on their own brand. This response is natural, and there are usually several justifications for taking this action. Bidding on your own brand has a lot of advantages including higher CTR, a lower CPC in comparison to ads without branded keywords, preventing competitors from capitalizing on your brand name, and achieving more control over messaging.

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Companies that don’t leverage branded ads receive around sixty per cent of clicks on the top organic listings, compared to companies that do use branded ads, which receive over 90% of clicks on ads that contain branded keywords. One main result of this is higher traffic levels and increased conversions.

Bidding on a Competitor’s Brand

When you bid on a competitor’s brand, this can often have many of the same advantages as bidding on your own brand. The main difference is in how you do it, and the risks that are involved in the strategy. When you bid on your own brand, the risk to your own bottom line is the only risk your business will take on. For example, you could end up spending money on ads that don’t generate any more traffic or visibility.

If you are planning to bid on a competitor’s keywords, then it’s crucial to wisely choose the competitor you’re going to bid on. Choose a company that offers a similar service to you, and is in the same market or has a similar business size to your brand.

It often pays to be first when it comes to bidding on competitor keywords. However, it’s important to be careful – avoid bidding on competitors that have more money and resources than yours.

Seeking Protections for Your Brand

Not having your brand protected by way of a trademark will leave it wide open to competitors who can mention your brand name in their advertisements. Trademarking your brand to protect your company is one of the simplest things to do when it comes to preventing competitors from targeting your audience and stealing your traffic. The best way to do this is to apply for a trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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That being said, don’t assume that just because your brand has a trademark, that competitors will not make any attempt to use your branded terms. Once you have the trademark, it’s also a good idea to regularly spend some time checking search results to discover if there are any competitors targeting your keywords. If you find any, review their ads to see if there are any violations of Google or another search engine’s code of conduct. If you find any violates, you can report the ad to have it removed. It can also be worth reaching out to any competitors that you are on good terms with to ask them to stop.

Finding that a competitor has been targeting your branded keywords can be a worrying experience. However, this happens more often than you might think, and there are several steps you can take to deal with it.