One question we hear a lot from lawyers is: Why is my competitor bidding on my name?
While there are definitely some instances we've seen where lawyers are actively trying to syphon some of their competitor's brand equity, it's usually a case of "accidental matching."
About broad match
In my experience, the mostly likely culprit is broad match:
When you use broad match, your ad is eligible to serve for user searches that are related to your keyword. This helps you find all queries relevant to your business while spending less time building keyword lists.
Broad match is the default match type that all your keywords are assigned if you don't specify another match type (exact match, phrase match, or negative match). The Google Ads system automatically runs your ads on related variations of your keywords, including synonyms, misspellings, and many other related searches, including searches that don’t contain the keyword terms.
To help deliver relevant matches, this match type may also take into account:
- the user’s recent search activities
- the content of the landing page
- other keywords in an ad group to better understand keyword intent
synonyms, misspellings, and many other related searches, including searches that don’t contain the keyword terms.
See, your competitor isn't actually bidding on your name at all. It could just be that the Google Ads matching system thinks of you as a synonym for a non-brand category term. So, an advertiser that broad matches "michigan personal injury lawyer," might show ads on searches for:
Keyword close variants: Definition
Another reason your competition might show up on a search for your name is the sinister close variant:
Close variants allow keywords to match to searches that are similar, but not identical to the targeted keyword, and help you connect with people who are looking for your business—despite slight variations in the way they search—reducing the need to build out exhaustive keyword lists to reach these customers.
By default, all keyword match types are eligible to match to close variants.
There is no way to opt out.
This one is just mean. But your competitor isn't the evil one here, it's Google. You see, even if your competitor is trying to avoid showing ads for searches on your name by, say, only using exact match keywords, Google might still show their ads for searches on your name if the system concludes your name is a close variant for the target keyword.
By default, all keyword match types are eligible to match to close variants. There is no way to opt out.
So, even if the competition is limiting their bids to exact match:
[michigan personal injury lawyer]
Google Ads might say, meh, show the ad for that lawyer's name anyway, close enough.
There are a few other ways that this matching issue can occur, but I'm not going to go deep on them here (if you're so inclined, drop them in the comments).
The point is, before you go sending cease and desist letters to the lawyers down the street, be aware that they might not be doing this on purpose.
And if you are bidding on competitors' names, and you're brave enough to share (I guess you can do so anonymously too), I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments. Did it work? Did you lose a friend? Get sued? Have a grievance filed against you?
Over the years, law firm prospects have sent us reports from just about all of our competitors. Unfortunately, even today, some law firm marketing agencies still mislead their clients via "reporting." One particularly egregious example comes in the form of ranking reports. Which prompted this LinkedIn post. To my surprise, I received a lot of […]
John Wanamaker supposedly said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." In an an effort to figure out "what half is working," attribution was born. Coupled with a transition from traditional, offline ads to digital media, attribution became the holy grail for analyzing advertising spends. But […]
I recently asked ChatGPT, "What are some of the top personal injury law firms in Chicago?? Actually, first I ask "who are some of the top personal injury lawyers in Chicago?" ChatGPT couldn't handle that one, so I modified the prompt. ChatGPT listed five very well-known firms downtown. Can you guess the other four? That's […]
If you're like me, you have some degree of AI, ChatGBT, Bard, exhaustion. Now don't get me wrong, this is stuff is remarkable and is changing, well, a lot. But before you hook up the ChatGPT API to your WordPress API and crank out 10,000 pages, here are a few things to think about. Let's […]
If you know me, you know my opinions about links and SEO advice from Google. If you don't, here's the TL;DR: Meh, links! Meaning, all things being equal, links still remain a competitive difference maker for ranking. Take Google's SEO advice with several grains of salt. Google has no economic incentive to help your site […]
The best marketing advice I can give you is to be authentic. Of course, you don't find that very helpful in terms of meeting your growth goals. So, you might decide to game the system. As I'm writing this, one of the more popular ways to gain the system is to pay for engagement. This […]
The following post was written by ChatGPT. ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a state-of-the-art language model that can generate human-like text based on a given prompt or context. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that businesses, including law firms, market themselves to potential clients. One way that a law firm could use […]
How long does SEO take? When can I expect to see results? What results should I expect to see? These are all reasonable questions that we field from lawyers every day. And, like many legal answers, the answer is: It depends. Yes, I know that's not the answer you wanted. But it's the most honest […]
And how much time should they spend doing it? I recently had the privilege of chatting with Tyson, Jim, and Conrad for an upcoming episode of The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. If you're not familiar with The Maximum Lawyer community, you should definitely check it out. Jim asked a really great question about who should do […]