What to Watch Out For When Using Competitors’ Names as Keywords in Google Ads

White Shark Media

11 years ago



There is an updated version of this blog post; click here to read it.

Depending on your particular industry, you might be facing light, moderate or high competition. The world of Google Ads is no different and you’re most likely going to run into competitors that want to fight to get a piece of the market share.

Some of your competitors could be old companies with well- established brands that are highly recognized by the public. If your business or product brand is not as recognized or popular, this situation could place you at a big disadvantage in terms of visibility and brand recognition towards your potential clients.

Let’s imagine you’re running a small business selling custom brewed beers, but you are facing huge competition from major beer brands. You’re probably going to feel outgunned by these major companies as they have way more resources and brand name recognition.

But thanks to AdWords, there’s a way around, or shall we say a loophole: Have you considered using your competitor’s brand names as keywords on your campaign?

Perhaps you’re also concerned about its legitimacy, but according to Google’s current policy this it’s perfectly legal and accepted.

“Google will not investigate or restrict the use of trademark terms in keywords, even if a trademark complaint is received.”
So, now every time someone is looking for custom beers using well-recognized brand names, your ad could be showing if you have those brand names as keywords for your campaign.

Keep An Eye Out For High Bounce Rates

Let’s say you did an in-depth competitor keyword research and have developed an extensive list of brand names you would like to include in your list. Then, after a week you notice that they have a good CTR and a healthy amount of clicks.

This all might seem great initially, but if you take a look at your Google Analytics and see very high bounce rates for those same keywords, this can be actually hurting your campaign.

A high bounce rate could indicate that people who clicked on your ad were expecting to see products for the specific brand name they were initially searching for. Therefore, once they landed on your webpage they were expecting to see products for that brand and since they didn’t find what they were looking for, they just hit the back button and left.

Even though you did get a click, you just ended up spending good money and receiving bad traffic.

Always remember that competitor’s keywords are only good and productive in terms of improving your ROI and not just your campaign’s CTR.

Don’t Include Your Competitor’s Name In Your Ads

Keep in mind that you don’t want to give your competitor’s brand name more publicity than what they are already getting and that you certainly don’t want to get into a legal fight over brand names and trademarks.

On the headline of your ad, you could either use your own brand name or a generic description of your competitors’ brand products.

In a worst-case scenario, you could end up in trial due to manipulative marketing if you use another brand name in your ads. This can be perceived as you trying to trick the user into thinking that your website is your competitor’s website.

For example, if you are using Amazon as a keyword and writing Amazon in your ad headline, users might think that you’re actually Amazon. This is manipulative and against the law in many countries. So, if you decide to use your competitors’ names as keywords do not use them in your headlines or with Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

Do Not Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion In Your Competitor Ad Group 

So far, you’ve refined your keyword list consisting of competitors’ names and have come up with a winning set up.

You’ve created generic ads describing the specific brand features and you have been careful not to mention any competitors’ names or their particular brand names.

All of this is just fine until you, out of common practice, decide to include an ad with dynamic keyword insertion in your ad group with competitors’ names.

If we recall how dynamic keyword insertion works: it will basically take any of your keywords matching the search query and fit the 25-character limit of the headline in your ad.

If you’re using dynamic keyword insertion, the headline of your ads could be showing your competitors’ brand names and that could be a big potential problem.

Worst-case scenario, you could be involved in a lawsuit. So, it’s never a good idea to use DKI for your ad groups with competitors’ names or brands included as keywords.

Use Keywords From Competitors That Are At Your Same Level

When using competitors’ names as keywords you want to be at about the same level considering your business and specific industry. If you’re a little league baseball player, you sure don’t want to compete against major-league players, as it won’t be a fair game.

Going back to the custom brewery company, it would be a good idea to use those competitors’ names that are aiming for the same target market as your company. In this case, it would most likely be small to medium size local custom beer brewery companies.

This is because people looking for brand names of products that have similar characteristics to yours could end up buying from you, as they would like to try out something different but within the same range of products.

Conversely, you should not use keywords from competitors selling mass consumption regular beers. For once, these guys are what we would call “big leaguers” in terms of advertising budget and brand recognition. And secondly, they sell different beers aiming to meet mass consumption and not the more selective custom beers offered by your business.

Competitors’ Names Can Be Good Keywords, But Be Careful

Using your competitors’ names and their brands to your campaign’s advantage is a good way to increase your potential conversions. You just have to follow the best practices mentioned throughout this article, and continuously monitor the campaign’s behavior in order to make sure that your competitors’ keywords are working to improve your campaign results.

Also, do keep in mind that since your webpage most likely doesn’t have content related to your competitor’s brands, it’s very likely that those keywords will have lower quality scores and higher CPCs as well.