How do you combat a competitor who’s trying to annoy you in AdWords?

A client recently asked me if there was anything he could do about the fact that when he typed his own company name into Google, a competitor’s advert appeared at the top of the page. I suspect it was his managing director who’d become the most irritated by this.

The answer is no, there’s nothing you can do, unless your company name is trademarked and your name appears in the competitor’s ad (Google shouldn’t allow that). But if it’s just an ad for the competitor, you may have to grin and bear it (you might win if you wanted to get m’learned friends involved, but that’s going to be very expensive). Then again, why should it be disallowed? As I’ve mentioned before, the competitor is advertising against a page of search results on your company name. If a newspaper runs a story about the Blue Widget Company, there’d be no complaints if the Red Widget Company ran an advert alongside it.

I’d look at the situation this way. Your competitor is going to have to bid an extremely high amount to advertise against your company name. That’s because Google determines the bids based on the relevance to the search term of the ad and the website it links to. Your competitor’s ad and website clearly won’t have anything to do with you, so any clicks might easily cost them several pounds a time. And for what? People were looking for you. If you really think they’re going to lose interest in their original search intent just by seeing your competitor’s website, I’d have a serious think about making your own website as good. Every time somebody clicks on their ad, it’s costing them money they could be using far more productively on generic searches about the products the two of you sell.

If you really want to do something about it, put your own advertisement above their one. Because your ad is relevant, it’ll cost you just a fraction of what it’ll cost them.

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