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Optimising Your Website for Competitor Keyterms - Blackhat PPC?

17 March 2009 by admin
Filed under Google

Take a look at this screenshot below take from the query “Confused.com”. As you can see rival companies are bidding on Confused.com’s brand, nothing new there you might say after Google allowed companies to appear for each others brand terms, as long as they didn’t use the brand in the adcopy itself. However, the one thing that is concerning here is that Confused.com’s own adtext is NOT in the number one position.


This could be down to two main reasons.  Firstly that whomever is doing the PPC for Confused.com has not ensured a high enough CPC bid on their brand terms and is effectively being outbid.  Personally if I were running their account I would set an overly high Max CPC on the brand terms and also ensure positional preferencing is set to number 1.  This should help to ensure that this scenario does not happen.  A company’s brand term will almost always be their best converting keyword and the one that all their marketing efforts are focused on driving through search.  It is not healthy at all to have a competitor appear higher than you for your brand in the sponsored listings.

Assuming Confused.com have taken the above action there could be another reason why they are in position two for their own brand term.  Take a look at this screenshot below from the rival site which is appearing in the number one sponsored spot, Gocompare.com

As you can see from the highlighted areas they have tried to optimise the page with copy relating to Confused.com.  The reason they have done this is to gain a better quality score and thus drive down the average CPC - it appears to be working!  They have even used “Confused.com” in the H1 tag…

The question is, is this foul play or simply ingenuinity on the part of Gocompare?  With Google already in hot water with Louis Vuitton this week, will practises like this only serve to aggravate companies which spend such vast sums of money with the search giant?

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2 comments on 'Optimising Your Website for Competitor Keyterms - Blackhat PPC?':

  1. Silv
    19 March 2009 @ 7:51 am

    You could make it even more blackhat by stuffing the page with more confused.com keywords and simply having the terms in white text - ie the user can not see them.

    Obviously ensure you no index the page to avoid any SEO penalties - although I have seen this practice result in the occasional G slap. This is a practice that some affiliates have implemented in the past that I know of.

    Bit naughty but at least the ad bots would deem the page relevant to the search query!

    Not something that I would recommend by the way to anyone else reading this - so please dont take this as advice!

  2. admin
    19 March 2009 @ 9:51 am

    Demonstrates just how primitive the Adwords bot is in terms of Quality Score, merely reading the page copy and the meta data. Reckon it will become more sophisticated as times goes by.

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Optimising Your Website for Competitor Keyterms - Blackhat PPC?

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