July 10, 2020

How to Rank for a Competitor Brand Name

This is going to be a relatively short post, and I'm going to talk about how you can go about ranking for competitor branded keywords.

If you're in a crowded industry or competing with established players, it can be hard to stand out.One way to get a share of that market is to rank for competitor keywords.

If you can anchor your brand to your larger competitors, you have an excellent way to pull customers towards your brand instead.

But, as you can guess, it's not that simple.

In this post, I'll walk you through what you should consider when ranking for competitor keywords and how you can do it.

Why Should You Rank for Competitor Keywords?

Customers start their search with a competitor brand name because they've heard of it.

If you can get a share of that traffic, it would likely do amazing things for your lead generation efforts.

But, it's hard to rank for competitor keywords.

Ranking in Google is all about matching the user search intent, and if someone searches for a brand name, the search results will reflect that.

If you searched for coffee, you wouldn't see results about green tea.

Let's invent a scenario to show you what I mean:

You own a clothing brand, specializing in activewear like leggings, t-shirts, and other sports clothes. Let's give it a name: Athena.

You're competing with brands like Nike and Adidas.

The good news is, you know there's a huge market.

The bad news is that customers default to those bigger brands because they're an ingrained part of sports culture, and they may have shopped there before.

When a customer is looking for a new pair of leggings, they might start searching with something like "Nike leggings".

All of the search results are going to display Nike products.

competitor branded keywords
8 out of 8 results include the branded term

As you can see, the first 8 results (including ads) all include clear mentions of Nike.

You can almost guarantee that Google isn't going to show any pages with the title Athena leggings (or any other competitor) as a prominent result for that search.

If they did, the click-through rate would likely be low, as people are searching for brand names because they want branded results.

So, How Can You Show Up for Competitor Branded Keywords?

You can rank for relevant competitor branded keywords.

You just need to think outside of the box, and find the keywords with a search intent that will allow your content to rank.

Let's be clear - you're never going to rank for a competitor branded keyword directly (e.g. "Nike" or "Salesforce"), and it's not worth trying.

This means finding long-tail keywords that you can create content around that still include a competitor brand name.

Next, I'll show you some frameworks for approaching competitor keywords that will allow you to match the search intent and start ranking.

Alternative To X

One popular way to rank for competitor keywords is to create content around alternatives to a brand.

This is a popular tactic (but still underused) in the software industry.

For example, let's take the behaviour analytics tool, Hotjar.

You could write an article on "Hotjar alternatives" and list other similar brands that act as a suitable replacement for their software.

Competitor Alternative Articles

As you can see from the search results, even though you include 'Hotjar' as a keyword in your search, none of the results are about Hotjar.

They're all about alternatives.

This is consistent with almost any brand you look for alternatives to. You'll usually see blog posts, help articles, competitor landing pages, or directory websites.

It's not usually that hard to rank on these pages.

If you offer a valid alternative to a popular product, considering creating a landing page, or informational article on why your product is a valid alternative to a competitor.

Don't criticize your competitor, but focus on what makes your solution so good.

You'll have a strong chance of ranking, and it can be a great way to get qualified prospects in the door.

Competitor Informational Posts

You'll also often see long-tail keywords that are informational in nature.

For example, someone looking for pricing about a brand.

Another example would be "reviews".

If you can compile information on a competitor brand's pricing, user reviews, or similar, you have a great chance of ranking.

That said, it's not always the ethical thing to do.

While you may be happy to steal all the traffic you can from a competitor, you don't want them doing the same back, and having your efforts backfire.

This is a more risky strategy than going after "Alternative to X" keywords.

Ranking For Competitor Branded Keywords: Worth It?

It's a tricky question to answer.

Ranking for competitor keywords is an amazing way to get in front of customers who are already close to the bottom-of-the-funnel. They're solution aware, and are probably in the final stages of making a decision about whether they're going to make a purchase.

Not all companies want to target competitor branded keywords, as there are obvious ethical questions.

If you do it to them, will they do the same back?

Maybe you want to keep a good relationship with them?

That said, it can move the needle if you manage to steal a share of that market.

In our opinion, the main type of competitor articles worth creating are the "Alternative To X" style posts.

These are scalable, as you can use a fixed format, and they're generally quite easy to write as you already know your brand's unique selling points.

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