Competitor’s Brandnames as Keywords and User Intent

So there’s this trick some website play, most often (and easily) with PPC but it can be done with organic SEO too.

  • Find a direct competitor with more brand awareness than you
  • Get easy and cheap (non-competative) traffic from their brandname keywords
  • Wonder why the traffic doesn’t convert so well

For example, lets say I’m an SEM for Sprite and I’m working on my PPC keywords. I notice I can get 10 cent clicks by bidding on “7-up” keywords, awesome. I buy bucket loads of them, but my analytics tell me visitors spend very little time on my site, don’t few many pages, and rarely (if ever) actually buy anything from me. Why could this be? Clearly 7-up and sprite are almost identical and my product is cheaper or better or better marketed, obviously customers should be buying my soda.
Two words:
User Intent
Search traffic is a marketer’s dream. Users are using 1, 2 and 3 word phrases to tell me exactly what they want. Any SEM worth his salt should make it his first priority to take advantage of this and meet that user intent as closely as possible, otherwise you’re just burning money. So what did those searchers using 7-up keywords tell me about their intent? They said they want 7-up, not sprite. Offering them sprite is insulting and deceptive. I suppose there could be some positioning games the advertiser could play with competative keyword traffic, describing why our product is better or cheaper than theirs, but in a PPC environment you’re toeing legal copywrite lines, and I’m still not concerned its the best way to use ad dollars.