Using Your Competitor’s Keywords – Does it work?

By Avelyn Austin | Jul 31, 2008
More Articles by Avelyn


Can you get more conversions using your competitor’s brand name in your campaign? I recently read a blog on Search Engine Genie (SEG) that encouraged pay per click marketers to include ad groups with commonly misspelled keywords and ad groups with competitor’s keywords.

I agree, by adding commonly misspelled keywords you are very likely to see conversions increase. However, using your competitor’s keywords does not always return the same results. How do I know?

Upon launching a new pay per click account the client asked to have one more campaign added, a competitor campaign. With much hesitation I agreed to test out the campaign for one month. After the month’s test was complete here’s what I found:

  • Low Click Through Rate (CTR) – The overall click through rate was over 4 percentage points lower than the rest of the account’s average click through rate.
  • Higher Minimum Bids -The quality score of these keywords was “poor”, resulting in a much higher minimum bid required.

The conclusion I came to is that when users are searching for a competitor’s keyword they know exactly what they want and by piggy backing on your competitor’s brand keywords, your ad is simply creating “noise” on the results page. If someone does click on your ad, you will pay a much higher cost per click and it’s not guaranteed that they will convert.

Don’t believe me? Test it yourself and let me know what you find.

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