Most businesses that have to do advertising also have to deal with competition from similar businesses. Many traditional media publishing platforms made it possible to separate your advertising in time (broadcast) and in physical space (print) from that of your competitors.

The search engines are very different from legacy media as most of your ads will be placed alongside those of the competition. For instance, when someone searches for a particular book, the ads will include listings from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and your local retail business. As such, you will all be competing for the same click, which makes things harder for everyone.

In the world of PPC advertising, bidding on competitor brand names can be a lucrative strategy. However, we at BlackStorm have learned that as easy and as enticing as it may be to take away a competitors traffic, it can create some problems with the quality score.

If you have ever tried to bid on someone’s brand name, then you know that Google will hit you with poor quality scores. Their logic is that someone searching for Walmart stores near me” would be interested in Walmart and not Target. As such, Target would get hit with poor quality scores for bidding on Walmart keywords.

Nonetheless, there may still be a few legitimate reasons to bid on your competition’s brand names. Maybe you just got into the market and need visibility or maybe you intend to capitalize on some confusion between your brand and that of the competition. Regardless of your reasons, you can target competitor brand keywords and manage to get decent quality scores and score some visitors. Here are some of the most effective ways to bid on the competition’s brand keywords:

Bid on Misspellings

If your competitor has an easily misspelled or a hard to spell brand, you need to gather all the possible keywords and place your bids. Most of the search engines do not understand misspellings and it may not be clear to them if you intend to find the real brand or something else. Once there is confusion, your ad has a higher probability of getting a decent score and being listed.

For instance:
If a searcher were to type in “esurance” while looking for the auto insurance company but ended up typing “ensurance”, the company still shows up on the search engine as the number one ad.

However, the second advert is awkward and is probably the result of dynamic keyword insertion. Still, it has used the searched keyword twice and this has made the search engines bold these out, making them stand out from the others. They are also using more site links as compared to the other advertisers. You would have to read the ad carefully to know that it has nothing to do with the company Esurance. However, most users will simply click the bolded result and visit the site rather than the website they intended to.

Bid on Cancel Keywords

This is one of those tips that could completely revolutionize your PPC competitor keyword strategies.

I do not believe you can find a better way of targeting disgruntled clients of the competition than by bidding on keywords they are likely to use when they intend to cancel their subscriptions.

This is not only smart but is also very effective at ensuring that you never get hit with the poor quality scores that you are likely to get when bidding on competitor keywords. For instance:

Most competitor keywords will get you quality scores no higher than 2, which the search engines are highly unlikely to list on the search results.

However, cancel keywords are a different kettle of fish:

You can get have your scores jump from as low as 2 to something between 4-5 and in some instances even 10. What is even better, cancel keywords tend to get above average click-through rates and drive leads.

If you are in the contractual or service industry taking advantage of cancel keyword can significantly improve your strategies.

Employ All the Weapons Available

At Blackstorm we always say that you are never going to be better than your competition if you do not have great ad copy. The best way of doing this is to provide reasons for the searcher to choose you and to always have a better offer. There are many advertisers that have won the battle for clicks by offering super deals and exclusive offers not found anywhere else.

Writing creative ad copy will also go a long way in improving your click-through rates. For instance, in the example below, Olive Garden gets really creative when targeting the keyword Applebee’s.

They have been so clever that Bing ads gave them annotations on the search engine results showing that they have had 100k visitors in the last month and that they have 205,900 twitter followers.

While it is impossible to control ad notations, ad extensions can be controlled. With good ad extensions, your ad will stand out more on the results. Still, you will have to get your ad to the top of the page before the search engines will show your ad extensions. But, having them show on the results can be a game changer.

Take for instance a search “Adgooroo” a search intelligence tool.

Adgooroo has neglected to bid on their brand and Spyfu has jumped in to bid on it. With their Google+ extensions and callout extension, their ad stands out on the page and they must be getting clicks. You could also use location and call extension on competitor ads. Imagine if the searcher learns that the competitor is a better fit for their needs than the company they were searching for.

Always do anything in your power to give the searcher a reason to click or call your business rather than that of a competitor. All being said, competitor campaigns can a solid source of high converting leads, sales or quality traffic.

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