PPC’s Unwritten Rules

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “PPC’s Unwritten Rules.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What are some PPC tactics that you consider to be black hat? Why?

  • Affiliate Arbitrage. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
    • Agreed, especially when affiliates bid on your branded terms. – Matt Umbro
  • Move a keyword from Exact to Broad to increase QS. Move back to exact – sometimes keyword keeps bigger QS. – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
  • Not done it myself, but advertising on competitor’s brand with misleading ads (if you can get ’em approved…) – Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
  • Having multiple sites running for the same keywords (and, in effect), the same offer. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Direct a BotNet / accumulate multiple clicks on a competitor’s ad. Click Fraud! Seems pretty black hat. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
  • Does click fraud fit here? If so, it’s a big one. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • I think most “blackhat” PPC really has to do more with traffic sources/networks than actual SEM tactics. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • I’ve had issues where other advertisers hack LP’s to place a redirect to their site, essentially stealing my paid traffic. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)

Q2: What is your stance on bidding on competitor terms? Why?

  • I bid on any competitor who bids on me. Even if they are using some sort of RLSA strategy to do it. – Andrew Bethel
  • Competitor bidding is completely fine. We ensure we don’t use misleading ads. (DKI is a no-no). – Anubhav Sonthalia (@sonthalia)
  • Do it if you have a good LP and the budget to do so. But proceed with caution. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • I let the client make the final approval. Give them the pros and cons. But I am a fan. Low QS, but “sometimes” good conversions. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • I wish we still had Search Companion. It worked great for competitive brand targeting. – Andrew Bethel
  • Only if the client wants it (or a competitor who just went out of business). – Robert Brady
  • Works well for the players behind not for the leader in that space. If one has the money, its a great way of establishing yourself in a newly entered market. – Anubhav Sonthalia
  • Make sure client is ok with it, then use it as long as profitable. Often times it’s not. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • I let the client make the final approval. Give them the pros and cons. But I am a fan. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • If it’s affordable & the data shows good KPIs I have no problem as long as my ads clearly delineate different company. – Kirk Williams
  • For me, it’s fair game, but I just about always try to come in at lower position. Client gets final say in the matter though. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Everyone does it – somehow it became a “must” a while ago in the industry. I usually leave it to my client to choose. – Roxana Hassel
  • Always worth a test, but sometimes politics are involved. If you bid on their terms, they’re gonna bid on yours. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
    • True. Have had more than one “cease and desist” letter come through. We stop in those cases. – Luke Alley
  • I prefer not to bid on competitor terms simply due to the break in relevance. I’ve seen quality suffer. – Heather Cooan
  • Yup, improves brand awareness if you are showing up against the known brands! – Ashwin Chandra (@ashwin_chandra)
  • Some indsutries have “gentlemen agreements” not to do it. – Bryant Garvin
  • I do it if client requests but honestly don’t see a lot of good results. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Depending on the industry it could be a deal breaker. Small industry = most competitors know eachother and share talent. – Andrew Bethel
  • Combining 1 & 2 > Use RLSA for competitor bidding – competition often won’t realize it. – Brad Geddes (@bgtheory)
  • Can generate decent leads. Works best if your product is actually better or comparable. LP makes a difference, too. – Amy Bishop
  • In the B2B world some competitors’ names are the industry, “industrial vacuum” or “fabricated pipe.” We have to bid on those. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Its fair game. If we can run a discount on those particular ads as well, even better. – Vamsi Ponada (@Vapo1126)
  • But I think if company is ok with it & you are offering a better quality product/experience can be in “users” best interest. – Bryant Garvin
  • It is also a factor of the performance goals. If you are okay with some additional spends! – Ashwin Chandra
  • You don’t own the SERPs for your own name. Google has the right to run ads, same as any website publisher. – Steve Gibson
  • I tend not to because it’s frustrates us when others bid on our terms. But it all depends. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
  • Yes I do it. Usually will exclude their zip code or city though. But I have 0 problems bidding on competitor terms. – Sean Burrows (@BurrowsPPC)
  • Depends on client preference and ROI. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Depends… Is the competitor a bigger player or a friendly part of the business community. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • In general, do it if budget is there. Especially if competitors bid on you. Can be expensive, so watch bids. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Bidding on comp terms is okay in my book. As long as you’re getting a decent ROI. – Bas van Meurs (@BasvMeurs)

Q3: What is your stance on one company having multiple PPC accounts (aka double serving) Why?

  • I’m okay with multiple accounts. I’m not okay with double-serving. – Amy Bishop
  • I am not a fan. I know a company who did it a few years back, but they got busted. – Mark Kennedy
  • If legitimately selling two separate products or there is a strategy in place I’m OK with it. – Matt Umbro
  • It really depends… at CH we had one for every brand… Sometimes Double Served for Different Brands. – Bryant Garvin
  • No. I don’t/won’t work with clients who want to trick the system into double-serving. – Theresa Zook
  • As a consumer (when I notice) I don’t like it. As an advertiser I think it is fair game. – Richard Fergie
  • If it’s actually double serving (same url, mutliple ads). Not cool, it’s straight up against the rules! – Heather Cooan
  • There are legitimate reasons on occasion. Most times its shady & I wish Google was more agressive about shutting them down. – Brad Geddes
  • Yellow Page PPC providers and the like are horrible about doing this. Their LPs suck too. 1 per client w/ best LP. – James Svoboda
  • I have multiple brands that sell similar products But they are distinctly different however a lot of them share targeted terms. – Andrew Bethel
  • Double serving = bad. But have seen lead-gen companies have separate “entities” which is ok according to Goog’s rules. – Luke Alley
  • Different products, different geos. There can be reasons for multiple accounts to the same URL. No good reason to double-serve. – Amy Bishop
  • It makes me so angry when it is just so obvious – it hurts the integrity of the PPC profession. – Matt Umbro
  • Had different accounts for search and display. Helps in streamlining and efficient managing of work. – Ashwin Chandra
  • Fine if KW intent is ambiguous and offering different products. Otherwise makes a poor searcher experience. – Mori Yagi (@mori_kun)
  • Double serving happens all the time, in almost every niche. Build.com owns faucetsdirect. KW search: bathroom faucets. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • It makes it difficult to deal with people that don’t understand Googles policies. They just see another company doing. We deal w/ it in the service industry. A challenge to convince the powers that be it’s better to keep things on the up and up. – Chris Davis (@C_Davis20)
  • What’s bizarre is that most of the AdWords reps I’ve talked to have admitted openly that G’s double serving policies are “gray”. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Dupe accts for management ease = ok. Dupe accts for sole purpose of double serving for SERP real estate = not ok. – Melissa Mackey
  • I have had Google Reps SUGGEST Double serving, and they helped rationalize why it was ok for that client. – Greg Young (@PPCJedi)

Q4: Aside from Google’s regulations, are there any remarketing messages that you believe are not ethical? Why?

  • Any promises the client can’t/doesn’t automatically fulfill. – Theresa Zook
  • Don’t retarget in sensitive industries. Rehab, engagement rings, personal health etc. should all be no no’s imo. – Aaron Levy
    • Recent story where guy researched fiancé’s wedding ring based on remarketing ads he saw on “their” shared laptop. – James Svoboda
  • Zappos remarketed me saying to hurry back before my cart empties. I never put anything in a cart on zappos before. – Joe Martinez
  • If I ever have a client who cares more about the reputation of PPC industry than sales, I’ll care about reputation of industry. – Steve Gibson
  • Yes! Big one for me is don’t have the potential to ruin families if someone else sees the ad. e.g. divorce lawyer. – Michelle Morgan
    • I worked with a bankruptcy attorney once…I’m sure some ads were a surprise to some families. – Matt Umbro
    • Had a divorce attorney client once. Wife used my comp and there was divorce retargeting everywhere! – Jesse Semchuck
  • Kind of retargeting; I’d be hesitant to give cust emails to Fbook without consent. – Richard Fergie
  • I don’t mind the ads themselves. I hate when someone tries to force ads with no cap impressions in EVERY youtube video I watch. – Roxana Hassel


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Anubhav Sonthalia (@sonthalia)
• Ashwin Chandra (@ashwin_chandra)
• Bas van Meurs (@BasvMeurs)
• Brad Geddes (@bgtheory)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Chris Davis (@C_Davis20)
• Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Mori Yagi (@mori_kun)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Sean Burrows (@BurrowsPPC)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Vamsi Ponada (@Vapo1126)

Creating Unwritten Streamcaps Every Week….They’re Typed

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking Director of Technology in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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