Ranking for competitor brand terms


This is one of those techniques which is rarely talked about when it comes to commercial SEO campaigns but its one of my favourite ways to grab extra traffic and piss off competitors in the process;-)

As any affiliates out there will know one of the easiest and most profitable ways to make money with affiliate marketing is to rank for the brand names of your merchant advertisers (be it in organic or paid search results). So if I’m an affiliate of Argos I want to rank for ‘Argos’, ‘Argos voucher code’, ‘buy toasters on argos’, ‘www.argos.co.uk’ etc. Look at any of those voucher code sites and you’ll see this is part of their core strategy.

The reason its so effective is because branded terms have far higher conversion rates than non-branded. If I’m searching for Argos.co.uk its probably because I want to buy something on Argos. I often recite with glee the story of when I ranked position 2 and 3 for a merchant brand term and they screwed up their site during a redesign causing Google to drop it for 2 weeks. During that time my affiliate link was the only way to find that brand in Google. Happy days indeed!

Anyway, while affiliates do this all the time, ‘real’ companies are far less likely to acknowledge competitor brands on their site, let along actively try to rank for them. If you’re feeling cheeky, here’s some ideas how you might go about ranking for competitor brands…

1. Product comparison

If your product or service offering shapes up well against the competition you can have a dedicated page on your site comparing your service to that competitor. Clicky do this pretty well with pages like their Clicky vs Woopra page. The key is to have a dedicated page on your site with the competitor brand name in the page title and body. You can then point some low level links at that page (article marketing, blog comments, whatever) and you should be able to rank pretty easily. Gab talks more about this in his post on ranking for competitor brands.

2. Run a news story on your competitor

If you’ve got a blog or news section on your site run an article on the competitor. Newspaper stories rank all the time for brand names so why shouldn’t you.

A headline like

“mycompetitor.com lays off half of workforce due to being inferior to mybrand.com”

will be especially effective as its likely to pick up some natural links, just make sure you stay legal!

3. Inline product comparison

The most successful example of this I ever worked on was a small ecommerce site who were selling electronics below RRP and beating the big players on price. So we included a little price scraping widget on each product page which displayed the price vs the competition so on the JVC LT-15DK1BJ product page we’d have:

Compare prices for JVC LT-15DK1BJ

  • JVC LT-15DK1BJ at comet.co.uk – £149.99
  • JVC LT-15DK1BJ at Currys – £159.99
  • JVC LT-15DK1BJ at Dixons – £139.99
  • JVC LT-15DK1BJ at PC world – £154.99
  • JVC LT-15DK1BJ on Amazon – £145.99
  • JVC LT-15DK1BJ on eBay – £139.99

Our price – £129.99

Traffic on keywords like ‘JVC LT-15DK1BJ comet.co.uk’ isn’t massive but the collective of ranking reasonably well for hundreds of product + competitor brand combinations drove lots of traffic and converted pretty well. When you get to this level of keyword just having the brand + the product name somewhere on the same page is often enough to rank so if the price widget is out of your range or you don’t really compare very favourably you could always just boiler plate some text into the footer of the page like:

“Our prices on JVC LT-15DK1BJ regularly beat comet.co.uk, Currys, PC World, eBay and other leading retailers and we offer free delivery!”

4. Slipping in brand terms by the backdoor

Couldn’t think of what to call this one. Basically the idea here is to incorporate competitors brands within your page titles, taglines and copy without it being a direct reference to that brand. So if I had a job board I might use a page title like:

“mybrand.com – The Total Job Site to help you Fish 4 Monster – ous Jobs | Reed our latest Jobs today”

That might of course be going a bit far but you get the idea. If you can do this on your homepage or a high level page on your site you might find you only need a few anchor text links with the competitor brand name to start ranking, even if you can’t get an exact match on the brand name in your page.

5. Customer reviews and UGC

Your boss might not want you scattering mentions of your competitors brand names all over your site but if your customers do it in reviews, testimonials or comments then there’s nothing wrong with that right? So something like…

“I love your guys website, its so much better than Comet, Currys or PC world and its cheaper too” Testimonial from XYZ

6. Bait and switch

Probably the most aggressive tactic so I kept it for last, not sure if this still works but it used too…

Say you wanted to rank for “travel supermarket” you would go out and register a domain like www.theuktravelsupermarket.co.uk (which is available if you’re interested BTW). Throw up a little site, nicely optimised for Travel Supermarket and bomb it with ‘branded links’ until you get it to rank. This might take a little time for popular brands. Then 301 it (or rel=canonicalize it if that more your cup of tea) back to your main site. Like I said not sure if this one’s still working but I’d bet if you do it properly it will.

Share your own tips for ranking for competitor brands in the comments