Bidding On Competitor Names With Google Ads

Many of my Google Ad clients want to bid on competitor brand names. Yes, you could argue that it’s a little shady and yes, many advertisers do it. Google does allow you to use competitor brand names as keywords, but not in the ad copy. And bidding on them is legitimate when you are new to the market and people don’t know of any options other than your primary competitors.

But what I’ll see is competitor brand names used as keywords to drive traffic to a general landing page. This can result in low quality scores and high costs since these are not related to the business. I don’t recommend this approach even though it can result in the occasional click to the website.

Instead, have a landing page that addresses competitors without naming them. If someone clicks on your Google Ad after searching a competitor, they will compare your brand to that competitor.

It’s helpful to look at your competitor’s ads on Google, (but don’t click on their ads to drive up costs. That’s not cool). How can you be different in your ads? Start addressing that in the ad copy and continue it on the landing page. You do this by noting the standout feature about your offering. A longer warranty? Faster delivery time?

Inject some humor in your copy (if that’s in alignment with your brand) or use site extensions to show an offering the competitor doesn’t have. (I have a client whose competitors focus on features so we’re killing it by simply emphasizing benefits – an easy practice may of us forget.)

Use keywords that make sense – not ones that are out of reach. For example, I don’t recommend going head to head with some of the big guys. (Do you think you’re going to outbid Amazon and are they a true competitor?) Also consider if prospects search your competitor brand name or product name? Maybe they search for neither and instead look for specific attributes.

When people do search on a brand, it could be that their minds are made up so if you decide to use competitor terms as keywords in ad groups, watch your bounce rate. You might get traffic from people who didn’t notice at the URL in the ad and clicked what came up. They could get to your landing page, realize it’s not the brand they want, and leave right away.

And finally, when deciding whether to bid on competitor terms, remember that if you do this to competitors, they may do it to you. Are you prepared for the battle?