I should caveat this blog by stating that I’m not in the habit of Googling my name.
However, a few days ago, I typed my name into Google in search of a recent press comment.
I was a little surprised to find a paid advert across the top of my mobile browser promoting an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) in Berkshire.
This search result was my first personal experience of a practice known as Brand Bidding.
Essentially, a competitor hijacked people searching for my name (brand) by bidding on it as a keyword.
Brand Bidding advantages
Brand Bidding isn’t the worst idea in the world.
It can result in pretty cheap clicks, with likely less competition for those keywords. After all, relatively few people will be bidding on my name!
As well as being relatively cheap, hijacking competitor keywords can result in some high-quality clicks. You might not secure very many clicks by bidding on competitor brand keywords, but those who do click are likely to be very relevant for your products or services.
The practice also puts you in front of potential customers who are familiar with your competitors, and therefore (assuming you’re in the same sector or profession), interested in what it is you do.
When I saw this paid advert from a competitor, my first thought was, is this even legal?
Well, yes, there’s no law against Brand Bidding. You do need to comply with Google’s search advertising guidelines. Still, all that means is not including trademarked text in your ad copy and not confusing the customer about the origin of your products or services.
Despite the advantages of Brand Bidding and its legality, it’s probably a bad idea and a waste of money.
It’s one thing with marketing to borrow authority, for example, getting your name or business mentioned in a publication. Borrowed authority is a clever marketing tactic.
Stealing authority by Brand Bidding, on the other hand, is deeply flawed.
Someone who is already searching for a brand or personal brand is likely to have an existing connection with that business or individual.
In other words, someone searching for this personal brand will be able to determine with whom they are dealing quickly, and that’s not an IFA in Berkshire.
Brand Bidding is lazy marketing. Instead of hijacking competitor brand keywords, put the work in and create a brand that is worthy of searching for in the first place.
Taking all of the content marketing steps to build profile and authority is far more rewarding than bidding for a competitor brand keyword and will result in a much better conversion rate from search to customer.