The Paid Search Blockade Strategy

by , , Sep 22, 2005, 3:15 PM
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What is a blockade? It's exactly what it sounds like -- a barrier to prevent your competition from appearing in the top search results. It is an advanced pay-per-click strategy of occupying the top three or more spots in search engines, essentially blocking out your competition. This technique typically is used only in very competitive markets.

Now, you might think that's not so hard, I'll just create three campaigns in my Google account, and bid on the same keyword in each campaign. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Google will only serve one ad per keyword and URL. In other words, your multiple ads won't show in the search engine results pages.

Here's how it works. A blockade can be set up on any cost-per-click search engine. For example, if you want to occupy the top three positions in Google, then the first thing you must do is open three separate Google accounts. Just so there's no misunderstanding, that's three different accounts, that have three separate log-ins. If you want to occupy the top four positions, then you'll need four different Google accounts. And so on..

Once you set up the accounts, you'll need to bid on the same keywords. Deciding which keywords to use in your blockade is crucial. Maybe you only want to use your brand names. Or maybe you'll choose some keywords with a high click-through rate. Or maybe you'll choose your keywords with the best conversion rates.

Now, here's where it gets a little tricky. If you use the same destination URL, it'll be obvious to everyone what you're up to. So what you need to do is set up a different Web site for each pay-per-click account. Take a second to think about consumers' buying behavior. Before a purchase, they might want to check out some objective opinions, and/or read some testimonials. Using this logic, it would make sense to set up a review site and a testimonial site as your two additional sites besides your main company Web site.

Using a different destination and display URL is especially important with Google, because Google only allows one URL per keyword. So, as an example, if two or more affiliate marketers are bidding on the same terms and using the same URL, only one of their ads will be served. That will be the ad with the highest "quality score."

If you are using a rules-based bid management platform like Atlas, then no rules should be applied to your "blockade" keywords on Google. Since Google has a hidden bid landscape, and uses a "quality score," you'll have to manually manage the blockade keywords. Just make sure you keep your cost per click high enough to insure a high placement.

Yahoo! has a visible bid landscape, so you can apply rules if you use rules-based bid management software. However, I recommend checking on the keyword positions regularly, just as you do with Google.

After your blockade is set up successfully, you'll need to track and monitor it closely to determine if you've achieved the desired results. Then, the optimization needs to begin. Since you don't optimize a pay-per-click blockade, the best way to optimize is by testing different forms of the creative, landing pages, and keywords.

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