Thou Shalt Not Take Thy Competitor’s Name In Vain At Least Not In Search Engines

February 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jason Ezell - Also by this author

I cannot for the life of me understand the trend of car dealers inserting competitor dealership names into their meta-content.  Recently in a specific region, I’ve seen an increase in dealers either using their competitors as keywords, or wanting to because the competition is using theirs.  Someone must have gone through that market and told all those guys that using their competitors as Internet keywords is a good idea.  I have been fielding so many phone calls about this that it’s time I address this issue publicly. 

Using competitive dealership names as keywords in your meta-content is never a good idea.  One of the basic rules of advertising is that the #2 brand can mention the #1 brand, but the #1 will never acknowledge #2, or even acknowledge that anyone is selling a product similar to theirs.  They are the only game in town, and they know it.  Would you, as a dealer, reference your direct rival in your television, newspaper or radio spots?  Not likely.  By alluding to your opposition, you’re admitting you are the inferior brand.     

When potential customers do a query through search engines, the search engine’s function is to weed out irrelevant content to locate exactly what the user wants.  If someone types word-for-word the name of a dealer across town into a search engine, they aren’t looking for you.

Think about it like this: if you are doing an Internet search for the Cowboys, the last thing you want to see is a Web site for the Redskins.  (I can hear you all saying that it’s totally different.)  Both are football teams, in the same division that have a long standing heated rivalry.  They sell game tickets, season tickets and any piece of merchandise with their respective teams’ logo emblazoned across it, but no matter how many times the Redskins show up on an Internet search for the Cowboys, it’s not going to make the person who is searching a Redskins fan.  It’s just going to irritate them.       

The most damaging result from using rival dealership names as keywords is being blacklisted from search engines.  Search engines are putting greater emphasis on relevant content.  Even though there is some legalese to get around the letter of the law when it comes to what you can and can’t put into your meta-content, it is still misleading and search engines don’t like it.  It only serves to frustrate an Internet user if they can’t find the content they want, and that frustration will be directed at you for misleading them.  The people at the search engines understand this and will ban you from their listings for unrelated content.  So, if you use your competition as keywords in your meta-content, you can look forward to a community of angry consumers and no Web site listing on search engines.  The next time a vendor tries to talk you into using your competitor’s name think again.

Vol 3, Issue 12

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