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Attention Doctors! Who’s Buying Ads for Your Name on Google?

Is your competitor buying ads under your practice name?

Paid search is a valuable part of any online marketing strategy. Through pay-per-click (PPC) tools like Google Ads, practices can purchase ads to position their website next to—and even above—the organic search results. In addition to bidding for procedural keywords, doctors may choose to purchase ads for their name or practice name. But did you know other websites can buy ads for your name, as well, even if it’s trademarked?

Why Would Another Site Buy Ads for My Name?

Businesses competing for your audience’s attention may purchase ads for your branded keywords, a strategy known as competitor targeting. This allows their website to appear for searches conducted by people interested in your practice. Other medical practices may do this to redirect the searcher’s attention toward their offerings, while healthcare directories may do this to get people to visit your profile on their site, helping to increase their click-through rate.

In terms of people visiting your directory profile versus your website, this may not seem all that bad since they’re still reading information about you. However, this can be a problem since doctors can usually buy ads for their name for a relatively low cost, but the price increases when a directory also buys their name. Not to mention, doctors are already paying for their directory exposure with the goal of getting in front of different audiences—not competing with themselves in search engine results.

Competitor targeting has become a common way for businesses to take advantage of a doctor’s brand awareness by buying their way into the highly targeted SERPs. When someone searches for a doctor’s name or practice, this is typically a more motivated individual. That is, they want to learn more about the doctor because they may be considering the physician for care. Someone at this point in the research process tends to lead to higher conversions, which is why many businesses advertise to other doctors’ prospective patients.

In addition, buying branded terms in Google Ads is typically more affordable than broad procedural terms like “breast augmentation.” This is because procedures tend to have a higher search volume, which can make these terms expensive for ads since they’re highly sought after. The strategy of buying another doctor’s name in PPC ads could be seen as a loophole to the typical way of advertising, bypassing popular terms to focus on a motivated audience.

Is Competitor Targeting in Google Ads Really Allowed?

Yes, while competitor targeting may sound like a questionable strategy to some, it is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of Google Ads. As its trademark policy states, “We don’t investigate or restrict trademarks as keywords.” However, Google does clarify that businesses cannot use the trademarked name in their ad text (i.e., what people see in their search results). If this rule were to be broken, it could lead to major penalties and even legal ramifications.

According to Rosemont Media CEO Keith Humes, “Buying a doctor’s name for profit on Google is a grey area and dirty little trick directories do to try and drive lead conversions.”

The Risks of Bid Wars in Competitor Targeting

While competitor targeting is allowed, it can be a risky strategy due to potentially higher bounce rates and businesses getting in bidding wars. In regards to the latter, if a practice wants to counteract someone buying its branded terms, they may choose to bid on their own terms, as well, in the hopes of getting a higher ad placement. This can lead to the practice and its competitor trying to out-bid each other, driving up the cost of the terms—eventually threatening their bottom line. The more competitors bidding on your brand, the more the cost will be for you to bid on your own name. This is why competitor targeting can be an especially complex strategy.

What Should I Do if It Happens to My Practice?

Every practice is different in how it should respond to a competitor buying its name in Google Ads. To determine how to adjust your strategy, you will need to review your website analytics, consider your Google Ads budget, and perform a competitive analysis. With this information, a calculated response can be made to get the most from your media buying efforts and maximize your SEO potential.

Want help from the professionals? Our team at Rosemont Media is experienced in all aspects of search engine marketing. Contact us to learn how we can help you rise above the competition and get noticed.

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