When it comes to Google branded search “bidding wars”, whilst a little competition is healthy, things can get heated rather quickly. Seeing your biggest competitor take the number 1 spot on Google when searching your own company brand name can be quite frustrating; after all it is highly valuable traffic including existing or potential new customers. Most companies would turn to chaos in this case, particularly if your brand has high search volumes.
But what can you do about it? Google lifted the ban, in 2008, on bidding for branded keywords of competitors, so it is completely “legal” to place such bids against your competitors brand. It may be frowned upon from a moral standpoint, but when it comes to Google, it is perfectly acceptable practice. This means reporting any activity against your brand searches like this to Google will be overlooked. You aren’t completely out of luck, though, there are ways to protect yourself and manage such campaigns using proven reputation management techniques.
Step 1 – Come To Terms With The Fact Your Competitor Might Not Remove The Listing
There is no legal obligation for your competitor to remove the ad in question. It may be a highly profitable source of traffic for them and as long as the snippet doesn’t contain your brand name (or any trademarked terms) their practice is perfectly acceptable. If they are using your trademark or brand in their copy, this could well be an infringement and you can request for Google to remove the ad(s).
Step 2 – Research Google’s Search Partners
You may well be losing traffic on multiple fronts. Whilst Google doesn’t disclose a list of search partners, due to constant change and expansion, there are a number of popular and well-known search partners – ASK.com, Dogpile.com, Amazon.com and AOL.com to name a few. It may well be worth researching a couple of branded search terms on these websites and see what sponsored links appear.
Step 3 – Contact Your Competitor Directly (And Politely!)
If the matter can be resolved professionally and politely, it would be the best outcome for both parties. By no means should you get into an argument with your competitor, as it may only drive them to be more determined to monopolise your branded search terms. Try sending a polite email requesting for the ad(s) in question to be taken down; it may well be a case that their SEO agency has placed these ads without their consent!
Step 4 – Start Your Own Branded Search Campaign
Regardless of whether your organic ranking is high for branded searches, you should set up a branded PPC ad.More often than not, huge companies will still have a branded PPC ad to allow them to completely dominate the SERPs with multiple listings. Combining an organic listing with a paid ad can improve your CTR significantly.
Step 5 – Targeting Your Competitor’s Branded Keywords Is An Option
If your polite request hasn’t been well-received, you can consider taking a little “revenge”. As a last resort, that may be very worthwhile, you can set up a campaign that targets your competitors branded search terms and you may find that they take their own ads down in a mutual agreement. However, this depends on search volumes as to whether they will react or not!