Is it time to rethink bidding on your competitors keywords?

I have been noticeably quiet in the last few months with my Search Engine updates because quite frankly the major news media has been doing a great job keeping people informed.

You may have heard about the J.C Penny scandal in the New York Times  , the blunder with back-linking and the paid linking woes over at Each one of these actions got the websites penalized but you probably have not heard about the changes to the Pay-Per-Click rules as upheld by the courts…

I could go into a really long story about the background and the impact of this new ruling but bottom line – the court ruled that buying ads based on a competitor’s name isn’t a violation of trademark law. While most businesses affected by these types of bids don’t think that they are “fair”, the floodgates are about to open on competitive bidding.

If you think that this is something that only the mega corporations should be concerned about, think again.  Imagine a scenario that your potential customer types in your business name expecting to find your website, now the first result can be a competitor making an offer to lure business away from you.  An excellent example is a law firm bidding on the name of their competitor that does a huge amount of advertising.  Typically the cost to bid on a trademark or business name is pretty cheap, less than $1 and now you can target these consumers with a better offer for a similar product.

The action item here is two fold:

  1. Be defensive; make sure that you have at least a small minimum bid with Google and Bing for your business names and trademarked terms. Point these clicks to your site and in the advertising copy say something like “Trademarked Term Official Site” so that consumers know that you are the authority site.
  2. Be offensive…if targeting the momentum of one of your competitors by bidding on their brand terms, business name or trademarks would buy you some additional customers, go ahead – play the game.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention if your website suddenly shifted in rankings the past two weeks it’s because Google did an update.  You can read about the financial impact at