Tips & Tricks

The do's and don'ts for competitor bidding in Google Search

June 4, 2023
 Min Read

In my eight years as a Google Ads specialist, the topic of competitor campaigns has always been subject to debate. These campaigns can stir controversy, particularly concerning ethical considerations. However, in the (B2B) SaaS advertising, they're more commonplace. Often woven into the broader Google Ads strategy, these campaigns can yield significant results for your SaaS business. Still, it's crucial to keep in mind several important considerations when setting your sights on competitors. 

Things to consider when diving into the realm of competitor bidding

  1. Trademark Rules

Google Ads doesn't allow businesses to use others' trademarked terms in their ads. This isn't just about following policies—it can help you avoid potential legal issues, too. In simple words, always make sure your ads don't use your competitor's copyrighted terms or phrases.

  1. Potential Retaliation 

Remember, your competitors might return the favor. If you start bidding on their branded keywords, they might do the same. Be prepared for this. If currently no one is bidding on your brand, weigh up the cost of competitors bidding against you.

  1. Competitive Edge 

Ensure you have a solid competitive advantage over the competitors you're targeting. Simply bidding on a competitor's keywords won't work if you can't offer a better solution. 

Ideally, you should aim to target competitors who exhibit particular weaknesses for which you have effective solutions. Investigate their reviews — can you identify any shortcomings? Highlighting your ability to address these issues within your ad can help you distinguish your product or service from the competition.

  1. Quality Score 

Bidding on competitor keywords frequently leads to a low Click-Through Rate (CTR), ad relevance, landing page experience, all of which contribute to a lower quality score. A low quality score, in turn, results in higher costs per click. Therefore, it's crucial to take these potential expenses into account before proceeding with this strategy.

  1. Costs

Finally, be aware that conversion rates are typically lower for competitor campaigns. This is because users searching for a specific brand are likely further along in their decision-making process. Thus, even if they click on your ad, they may not convert. Factor this into your target CPA (Cost per Acquisition) calculations.

So, after careful consideration of whether competitor bidding is suitable for your SaaS business, let's start with the don'ts for competitor bidding in Google Ads.

The Don’ts

  • Use trademarks in your ad

As previously mentioned, refrain from including the competitor's name in your ad. Google Ads' policies prohibit this practice, and it could lead to potential policy violations or legal issues. 

  • Blindly bid on competitors

Choose your competitors thoughtfully. Not all competitors are equal. Analyze where your SaaS business holds a competitive advantage over your rivals. Being selective about your targets can yield better campaign performance.

  • Defaming competitors

Avoid negative advertising. Emphasize your own strengths rather than the weaknesses of your competitors. 

  • Starting right away

Don't dive into competitor bidding right away. It's often a more challenging task to persuade an audience that's already searching for your competitors. This strategy could be a more expensive option due to potentially lower conversion rates.

The Do’s

  • Set separate budgets

Allocate a specific budget for all competitor bidding and set up a separate campaign for it, as performance metrics are likely to differ from your other campaigns. This consideration should be factored in when setting goals and defining your Key Performance Indicators. By segregating the budget, you ensure that resources allocated for other campaigns are not depleted.

  • Use of Ad Extensions

Utilize ad extensions to accentuate unique benefits, product features, or exclusive promotions. This can heighten your ad visibility and offer additional reasons for potential customers to prefer your SaaS product over a competitor's.

  • Use navigational keyword exclusions

Navigational keywords, typically used by searchers to find a particular site or page, might attract clicks but are less likely to convert. Instead, target commercial intent keywords related to pricing or reviews associated with your competitor—these are terms that users search when they're primed to purchase.

  • Dedicated competitor landing page

Consider incorporating comparison analysis on your landing page. This can be crucial in convincing audiences to opt for your SaaS solution. However, remain thoroughly informed about your competitors' Unique Selling Points (USPs). Should these change, competitors may potentially accuse you of misrepresentation.


Running competitor campaigns on Google Ads is a strategic move that many B2B SaaS businesses consider. Although it can be fruitful, especially if well-executed, it brings its own set of unique challenges and considerations. Therefore, always conduct your research with due diligence. Competitor bidding should be viewed as a component of a broader, more comprehensive Google Ads strategy. The effectiveness of competitor bidding for your brand is always worth testing. Continuously monitor the results so you can optimize your campaign accordingly.

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