Competitor Keywords in Adwords Advertising

Competitor Keywords in Adwords Advertising

I regularly run searches on our brand term “ONE400” to see how we look to users trying to find us through Google. Normally, a search will pull up our paid ads and several organic results thereafter. This time, I found something interesting. It appears another company called ConsultWebs is bidding on our brand term. This is a common strategy for search engine marketers (SEM’s). So common in fact, that my business partner wrote a blog on the legality of it. Legal or not is it worthwhile? Does it really drive business or is it wasted money since a user searching on a brand term clearly has either been referred, knows you by reputation or has been introduced to your work through some other channel like social media for example. I personally think it’s wasted money and here’s why.

First off, Google Adwords views your ads, keywords and landing page and creates something called a quality score. The quality score rating is from 1 to 10, 1 being poor and 10 being great. Google rarely displays ads that have a quality score of 3 or less. When you’re running an ad with a high quality score, Google rewards you with a higher ad position and a lower bid costs. Google does this mainly because they want their users (people using search) to have a great search experience. So if you have ad copy that directly corresponds with campaign keywords as well as with the keywords on the page that you direct your ads to, then Google rewards you with a higher quality score because of the high relevance to the search term. That is a good search experience and reduces your advertising cost. But let’s say that isn’t the case.

Say you are bidding on a competitor’s terms such as “ONE400”. In other words you want your ads to appear when people search for ONE400. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Google search for ONe400


You can see how ConsultWebs is using this strategy with ONE400. Well because of Google’s terms on the subject, you are unlikely able to use the Brand’s name in your text ad. That alone lowers your quality score some. Additionally, when you direct someone to a landing page on your site, you are unlikely to use the Brand’s keyword there either because you want to focus messaging on your business and not your competitors. Again, another ding against your quality score. When all is said and done, this particular ad group is likely to have a very poor quality score which only really increases your costs, probably results in poor conversion and does nothing to help your brand stand alone. In my humble opinion, just not worth the effort or cost. Use that money for something else. There is maybe one exception.

In the event that you have a competitor that does a lot of radio or TV advertising and very little or no online advertising, you may be able to scoop lots of that run off traffic by bidding on their brand terms. However, for reasons already explained above, that campaign will still cost you more than one based on focusing more broadly on services you offer.

Again, this Adwords strategy is not really our thing over at ONE400 but lots of people do it. I actually think it’s rather flattering that ConsultWebs thinks we have a solid enough Brand that they feel it’s worth spending money on. I also think we have a solid Brand, one that people will seek independent of the ads displayed under a ONE400 search.

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About the author

Allen Rodriguez Allen Rodriguez is a legal product development strategist who has been serving the legal industry for over 21 years. Over the course of his career, Allen has built a reputation for creating innovative legal services products as well as developing highly effective law firm business and marketing strategies. Allen is a valued speaker on the topics of law marketing, legal services product development, and future of law issues.

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