Bidding can be a complicated process, as a lot of factors come into play. You need to take your strategy and what your competitors are doing into account, as well as how it affects your brand.

Sometimes you may find that competitors are buying your brand keyword, taking that space where your ads should be. Is this even legal?

Surprisingly, this is not a banned practice. Search engines such as Google and Bing allow bidding on someone else’s branded keywords.

The only situation where they meddle is when marketers bid on trademarked brand names, when they use them on display URLs or when the intention behind the strategy is to mislead users into clicking their ads instead.

Brand bidding as the prisoner’s dilemma

This raises the question of how one should operate in these situations.

Should you bid on your competitor’s terms? If you don’t, you’re at risk of having your keywords bought by them.

What if you buy other brands’ keywords? Competitors will retaliate, spending more money on your brand words and the costs for both will increase.

Understanding these factors, what can you do to defend your brand from those who want to take advantage?

Some brand-protection solutions

There are some tactics you can use to protect your brand:

Trademark your brand name

This seems like the most logical and quick solution. As we noted before, trademarked words are not allowed to be bought, so it’s an easy way to secure your brand.

Ask your competitors first

Before taking any action, you can talk to other advertisers and agree not to bid on each other’s keywords. That would be the most ideal situation for the competitive landscape. Having a healthy relationship with your competition can be beneficial for both of you since it will save you a lot of unnecessary spend in brand bidding.

Bid on your own brand terms

It can be cheaper for brands to bid on their own name. If you and your competitors both decide to buy your terms, Google will prioritize the advertisers that have notified their intentions to bid on their own keywords beforehand, giving them an added quality score (QS). As Search Engine Journal states, “advertisers benefit from a higher QS because it means they have to pay less to maintain their position versus their next competitor.”

Buy your competitors’ keywords

If this doesn’t work, you always have the option to bid on your competitors’ brand terms. It’s risky since you don’t know how much money they’re spending on their own words or if they are doing it at all. You could be wasting money for words that are not generating any traffic or visibility of your ads. That’s why you need to think thoroughly about what your bidding strategy is going to be.

What are brand keywords?

Brand keywords are terms or phrases that include the name of a company or brand. They’re used by potential clients in search engines to look for specific information on a product or service.

Is it legal to use competitors names in your keywords?

Yes, it is completely legal. However, you should not use trademarked brand words and not mislead potential consumers.