As your brand grows, becomes recognizable, and you acquire more customers, you should prepare to resist your competitors who will come for your branded traffic. Or, maybe, they’ve been taking a bite of your customers on Google Search for a long time. In any case, you should know how to beat your rivals who want to benefit at your expense.
How Competitors Can Reach out Your Branded Traffic
In the ideal world, when a user types into the search box the name of your company, he would see the following:
In this example, the user directly goes to the website he has been searching for. Nobody interrupts him on his way to your site.
A variation of a good scenario supposes that you target your branded name, and the user sees both organic and paid search results; he can decide which of these links to click on. However, if the top one is yours, the user will move to your site.
The issues occur when competitors start to wedge into the top of the search results on the queries related to your brand name. In the example below, you can see that the organic result for the branded query takes the second position, while the competitor’s site is in the first position due to the paid search.
In such a situation, some of the users who are not your customers will go to your competitor’s site. The question is how many users will fail to reach your site. Much depends on the ingenuity of your competitors and your ability to resist them. Let’s look at the strategies your competitors can apply to intercept your branded traffic flow.
1. Targeting Keywords Containing Trademarks—Google Doesn’t Mind
This is a common practice. When lesser known brands target famous brand names, they can announce themselves and reach out to warm audiences. Large companies apply this approach in brand wars as well.
For example, the UPS delivery service ran an ad for the competitor’s brand name «dhl» and took first place in the search results:
Google doesn’t restrict targeting trademarks in Search campaigns. So you don’t have grounds to file a complaint or prohibit the use of your brand in keywords.
Therefore, if you notice that someone else’s ads are showing for your brand queries, the only remedy is to launch your ads for the same queries and outbid your competitors’ ads at auctions to rank higher.
2. Using Your Brand Names in Competitors’ Ad Texts—Illegal but Possible
Unlike brand name targeting, you cannot insert registered trademark names in ad texts without the permission of the owners. In response to trademark owner complaints, Google may restrict the use of trademarks in ad texts.
In practice, you can create an ad, and it will be exposed until the owner of the trademark files a complaint (provided that the trademark is officially registered).
Therefore, the Paid Search ads often contain competitors’ brand names.
Sometimes such mentions are relatively neutral:
However, competitors may harm your reputation. From the example below, the competitor’s brand is mentioned in a negative context (deliberately emphasizing its high cost). This is no longer harmless targeting but is an action that can decrease branded traffic and conversions.
If you are faced with the fact that your trademark was used in an ad without your permission, you should file a complaint. In Google Ads, you just need to fill out an online form.
3. Brand Name Hinting—The Way to Bypass the Restrictions
Most advertisers know not to mention competitor brands in their ad texts. Therefore, workarounds are found.
For example, the Freshworks platform is calling for a “Move on from Chimp.” The target audience representatives understand for sure that “Chimp” does not mean chimpanzees.
In this case, the copyright holder is unlikely to be able to prove that the advertiser has violated his rights. The only way to resist is to run ads on his branded keywords.
4. Staking on the Associations—The Creative Way to Outrun Competitors
The creator of this ad turned out to be even more ingenious than the previous one:
Hotjar aptly used the word “Crazy” at the beginning of the first headline. It is consistent with the name of the competitor’s brand and successfully (even with irony) conveys the message to the target audience (“Crazy about Heatmaps?”). Besides, it is safe to use it—Hotjar’s competitors have nothing to complain about.
5. Offering the “Better” Product—An Easy Way to Stand Out from Competitors
Your competitors can use a very simple and safe strategy—just say that their product is “better,” without mentioning your brand. Without fail, the target audience will understand what is really meant.
The advantage of this approach is that you don’t need to be creative. The single ad text is suitable for all competitors’ brands.
6. Acquiring Traffic from the Related Niches
Sometimes “guests” from the related niches can target your brand to acquire warm traffic.
For example, if a user is looking for the hosting, it is safe to assume that he needs a website. So site builder can target hosting providers brand names:
For you, as a targeted brand owner, such a competitors’ approach is relatively safe. The only issue is that the auction bid starts to increase, but you can do nothing with that.
7. Resellers Targeting Your Brand Name
If a company sells your products, it is allowed to mention your brand name in its ad copies. This is not restricted by Google Ads policy.
However, if you notice that the reseller is not official or harms your reputation when using your brand name, you can file a complaint to disable his ads.
8. Unfair Competition or Scamming
If your brand is famous, it will inevitably attract people who want to make money at your expense. For example, if you have an affiliate program, your unscrupulous partners can create doorways with URLs consonant to your URL, and direct traffic to your site throughout their affiliate links.
Another way to get your branded traffic is to create a brand name very similar to your one. In this case, users can be misled and proceed to your competitor’s page instead of yours. The solution is to monitor search results, uncover such unfair competitors, and take countermeasures.
5 Life Hacks to Withstand the Fight for Your Branded Traffic
Regularly monitor search results for your branded queries
You can enter branded queries in Google Search box to see if your competitors target your brand. To monitor paid in other regions than yours, use Google’s Ad Preview Tool.
The advantages of the method are:
- You get up-to-date data.
- You can identify new competitors that you did not know about before.
However, this method has some disadvantages. They are:
- You need to do everything manually—that is time-consuming.
- Some of your competitors’ ads may be disabled at the moment (for example, due to the ad scheduling).
- It is impossible to manually monitor all the targeted regions.
More effective way to monitor your competitors
You probably know your main competitors. By leveraging competitor analysis tools, you can find all the keywords they target in the regions where you show your ads.
Let’s say we need to find out if Trello’s competitors target its brand name in the US. To handle this task, we will use PromoNavi’s Competitor Analysis Tool. We enter “our” website trello.com, its competitors, choose the country, and run an analysis.
Let’s move to the Paid Keywords section to find all the keywords that competitors target. On the Missing tab, there are all the keywords that our competitors target which we don’t. We choose branded keywords containing “trello”. For this task, we use filters:
Now, we have the full list of branded keywords that Trello’s competitors target. Moreover, we can download all the competitors’ ad copies to monitor what strategies they use to sneak our branded traffic.
Set up a Branded Campaign in Advance
If no one is targeting your brand, and in an organic search you are already in the first position, it can be expensive to launch a branded campaign.
However, your competitor can launch ads for your brand any time and take the first line in the search results. For a quick response, we advise you to keep a customized campaign based on your own brand queries. If necessary, you will quickly launch it. But this approach only works if you regularly monitor the competitors. In this regard, it is useful to set up competitors tracking in real-time. You can do this using PromoNavi’s Competitor Analysis tool.
In the Recent Searches section, choose the competitors you want to monitor, and click Notify Me. On the email you enter, you’ll receive notifications as soon as your competitors run new keywords.
Complain if Competitors are Exploiting Your Brand
If you notice that competitors mention your brand name in their ad texts, you should file a complaint. There is an online form for such issues, so you won’t have problems.
Keep in mind, if competitors just target your keywords without mentioning your brand, there is no sense to file a complaint. This strategy is absolutely legal.
Hold a High Top of Page Rate for Branded Keywords
For a branded keywords campaign, this metric is very important. Ideally, your Top of Page Rate for branded campaigns should exceed 90%. If this metric is lower, you can increase bid, improve your ad copies and landing pages, or opt-in for Target Impression Share bid strategy. The latter lets you set the definite Impression Share level that system will strive to hold.
Target Your Competitors’ Brand Names
Return the favor to your competitors—target their branded keywords, and you will return some traffic.
First of all, target competitors who are targeting your brand names. Then, if you have enough resources, you can look forward to targeting other brands in your niche.
Keep an eye on your competitors, timely react to their attempts to steal your branded traffic, and you will never lose because of their actions.