How to Successfully Bid on Competitor Brands (and How to Fail)

Should you bid on your competitor’s brand terms in PPC, or shouldn’t you? This question comes up frequently in PPC circles and on Twitter and is frequently written about in PPC blogs. You’ll find arguments both for and against this practice in the PPC universe.

I’m here to tell you that you can successfully bid on competitor brands, and actually see decent conversions from them. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The Wrong Way

As with many things in life, the easy way is the wrong way when it comes to competitor bidding. Here are a few worst practices for competitor bidding.

• Don’t just throw you competitor’s brand into an existing ad group and call it good. PPC engines have a little thing called Quality Score, and you’ll kill yours if you dump competitor brand terms into your existing ad groups, because those keywords won’t be relevant.
• Don’t create a separate ad group in an existing campaign for competitor terms. See above. This won’t help your quality score either.
• Don’t use your usual PPC landing pages for competitor brands. Again, your quality score is going to suffer – in fact, just last week, Google announced that landing page relevance is now playing a bigger part in QS than it had in the past. Using landing pages with no mention of your competition will negatively impact your quality score.

At this point you’re probably saying, “Whoa! Are you telling me I need to create landing pages that mention my competition? Are you nuts?”

Believe it or not, no, I’m not nuts. Let me explain.

The Right Way

• I don’t recommend a landing page that merely contains a random list of your competitors. That would be stupid. Instead, create a comparison landing page with a chart or grid that lists you and your competition, and shows why you are better. This way, you’ll get a better quality score, and you’ll also have a sales tool that will help increase your conversion rate. Check out these examples to see what I mean.
• Consider including competitor brands in your ad copy. I know, this feels uncomfortable – but it just may work. I do recommend testing it – test an ad with a competitor’s brand against an ad without it, and measure the results. You could also use DKI in the ad title to automatically include a competitor’s brand; this often works well.
• Test, test, test; and measure, measure, measure. We’ve had clients for whom bidding on competitor brands worked very well, and clients for whom it absolutely did not. As with anything in the PPC world, it depends on your industry and your individual business.

Bottom line, it is possible to successfully bid on your competition’s brand terms. And I’m sure there are other ways to do it that I haven’t listed. Have you been successful with this? How?

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