Rival Company Name as Keyword: Should You Use It?

A recent article states that purchasing keywords for search engines of well-known rivals can hurt more than it can help. Some companies have begun purchasing keywords, including a rival company name as keyword, so that when potential customers use these keywords or business names in search engines they will be redirected to the rival company instead.

In order to reach more consumers, companies will buy these names to use as keywords in order to reach anyone using the rival company’s name in searches. For example, a car company might buy keywords and search advertisements to reach consumers that are searching for other car companies.

A note of caution should be said about this practice. It actually can prove harmful to a company, if their organization is not up to snuff with their rival. Purchasing these search words can cause the consumer to compare the two companies. In the mind of the consumer, the difference between the two brands becomes larger than if they considered the two businesses separately. The popular brand’s reputation precedes them, and the consumer will be disappointed to find what they see as an inferior company.

This reaction, however, does not occur if the comparison between brands is between near equals in reputation and quality. When this is the case, the first company found raises the consumer’s estimation of that brand, in comparison to the one that was actually searched for. So, when a company is trying to make the decision of whether or not to use a rival company name as keyword, they should consider what the comparison would do to their brand. They should consider the difference in reputation between their company and their competitor. If a brand is not well-known, and they just want to hitch onto a more popular brand, they should not advertise next to them. However, if your brand is only a little less known than your rival, it could be advantageous to advertise next to it.