SEO – Should you bid on competitors terms?

SEO – Should you bid on your competitors SEO AdWords terms?

There is some contention as to whether or not you should bid on your competitors terms as part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. Although Google has not banned the practice, recent cases suggest that if the ad contained in the bid is in any way confusing to the user – for example, if it’s text and link suggest the competitors brand but then present your brand once followed – you may be penalised.

Despite this, Google’s Trademark Policy states that as long as you’re not using a trademarked term in your ad, then the post will be allowed. So now that we know bidding on competitors terms is ok, the question remains: should you?


Reasons you should

Product placement

Customers looking for your competitors product or service are liking looking for yours too, meaning that this is a new traffic source you could be taking advantage of. Your brand won’t appear in competitor organic searches, so it might be worth taking advantage of the paid searches.

Brand recognition

Even if the customer doesn’t click on your ad, appearing alongside your competitors can improve your brand standing in the mind of the consumer, by offering you as a similar service. This is great for small businesses competing with larger ones.


Reasons you shouldn’t


Bidding on competitor terms is not for those with a small budget; bids on your own brand are affordable because you’re the only one bidding on them. When competition increased, you may be forced to increase your bid to compete, pushing prices up. It can also start a bidding war when competitors realise you’ve placed a bid on their term, thereby increasing costs once again.


Google displays ads based on relevancy quality score, a score it determines based on a mixture of relevancy, search terms and meta tags on your ads landing page. Unless your competitors term is on your landing page, you will probably receive a low quality score, and Google could penalise you for this. Be mindful that this will be applied to your entire AdWords account, not just the specific ad you’re placing.


The Result?

So Google says it’s ok, but that doesn’t mean they are making it easy for you. If you do bid on your competitors terms, be prepared for the backlash; not just form the competitor, but from Google.


Find out more about SEO in our Search Engine Optimisation topic, and learn how to develop a strategy for your business.


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