Competitor Bidding: Yay or Nay?

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Competitor bidding in paid search: yea or nay?

It depends!

🛑 My initial answer is usually nay, because most advertisers aren’t ready to bid on competitor names.

Competitor bidding can be expensive:
✳ Keywords automatically get low quality scores, pushing CPCs up.
✳ Conversion rates tend to be low – after all, the user was searching for someone who isn’t you.
✳ Competitor keywords can eat up your entire paid search budget!
✳ Close variants mean you might match to other competitors or even your own brand terms 😲

Here’s how to do it successfully:
✳ Set aside a dedicated budget for competitor bidding, separate from your main budget. Look at it as a test. Set reasonable ROAS metrics that are likely worse than your regular search campaigns.
✳ Create a landing page that shows why you’re better than the competition. Name names. It’s critical to be bold here – if you don’t want to name your competitor on your landing page, you’re not ready to bid on their keywords.
✳ Use keywords like “cancel [competitor]”, “alternatives to [competitor]”, and other variants that indicate the user is looking to make a switch. These can be high-converting keywords.
✳ Monitor search queries daily. Relentlessly add negatives to keep things tight. This is going to be even more of a game of whack-a-mole than your regular SQR work, so dedicate yourself to it.

I’d love to hear how you handle competitor bidding!

Originally posted on LinkedIn on January 16, 2024

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  1. Great post and I agree with all of it. Also, what I’ve been seeing for the last year (in mostly the legal and home improvement space), you may be showing for your competitor terms without even knowing it. Google is matching your competitor names to your non-branded and non-competitor keywords.

    For example, a keyword like “personal injury lawyers” might already be matching to an injury law firm name like Smith & Jones. I see it a LOT. So make sure to check your search query report regularly and constantly add negatives if you don’t want to show for these terms.

  2. Excellent recap Melissa,
    I would only add that to give your campaigns any success chance you need to target only direct competitors with perfectly comparable/exchangeable products or services.
    For the rest there are many other ways to target collateral or similar products/competitors which are by far more effective in GAds and in other PPC platforms.
    My 2 cents 🙂

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