13 December 2007

I was asked in a focus group recently, whether Google allowed a company to put multiple ads under the same keywords.

I have always been led to believe that Google does not agree with this, on the basis that it is unfair competition. It merely drives up the cost per click for other advertisers and allows them to monopolise the Google results.

I know that from time to time UKFast advertises under the same keyword. However, we do so only when promoting completely different brands. Each brand has a different marketing strategy so it is very unlikely that two UKFast ads are ever seen next to each other.

Whilst doing some research, I chose keywords that related to our industry. The two words being ‘dedicated servers’.

Immediately, I was confronted with a marvellous example of how you can take advantage of the system. The UK arm of a well established hosting company, and indeed a competitor of ours, was ranked in spots one, two and three.

I spoke to Google this morning and they confirmed that at first look this is the case. They assured me they are already aware of the situation and it is with their policy team at the moment awaiting a decision.

I was pleasantly surprised that this organisation, who have grown so quickly, remain consumer focused and totally on the ball.

However, in spite of Google frowning on this type of monopolisation or abuse of the system, I imagine it is a very successful method of marketing.

Effective keywords are few and far between so it is easy to envisage the fun you could have if you literally own the keywords. Possessing the top three spots means tripling the volume of leads coming in.

But then on the other hand, I was brought back to Earth when I remembered a conversation I’d had recently. We’d won a piece of business from a company and our contact stated that he felt this cumulative marketing strategy was wholly unnecessary.

He’d needed quotes from three different companies and had to make many extra phone calls to really get a good overview of the industry. This monopolisation of Google top spots had really all been a waste of his time. Because of this, the way he now looked on our competitor was unfavourable.

So personally, my advice to companies wishing to use adwords to the absolute maximum is; ‘work within the rules’. There is no point cheating the system. Eventually you will be found out and it may reflect badly on the way you are perceived both by competitors and potential clients.

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