Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great marketing strategy. It’s accessible. It’s inexpensive. And it can scale to yield an unbelievable return on investment (ROI).
But there’s a big problem that might stand in your way: competition.
Having a formidable competitor at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) means you’ll have to work twice as hard to earn a spot in the top few ranks. It also means you could lose a lot of traffic to another site just because you’re a rank away from the top.
It’s possible to mitigate the threat of competition with strategies like targeting a different audience, optimizing for long-tail keywords, and focusing on a unique niche.
But what if you could use the power of your competition against them?
That’s the idea behind brand jacking – a novel SEO (and PPC) strategy that can help you get better results, no matter what kind of competition you face.
“Brand jacking” or “brandjacking” is a combination of the terms “brand” and “hijacking.” But we’re not literally hijacking someone else’s brand. Instead, we’re attempting to use the power of their brand against them.
In a traditional advertising context, brand jacking has been used to criticize, undermine, or otherwise attack popular brands. For example, in 2013, charitable organization Oxfam created an ad called “The Bitter Taste of Sugar” that parodied an ad for Coca-Cola Zero in an attempt to criticize Coca-Cola’s unsustainable business practices.
But we’re more interested in using brand jacking in the digital marketing world.
Here’s the idea. Your competitors have established a lot of visibility and brand equity with their brand name. When someone searches for “CompetiTrix” (your top competitor), they inevitably see several pages of the CompetiTrix website.
So what if you could leech some of the traffic they’re getting here? You’d hit them right where it hurts.
Let’s say you write an article on your site titled, “The Top X Alternatives to CompetiTrix,” and you optimize it for terms related to “CompetiTrix.” Eventually, you could organically reach the second position in search engines (landing the number one spot may be impossible). Now, people who search for this competing brand name will have the option to look at alternatives instead.
If successful, you’ll take traffic away from your competitor. You’ll capitalize on the existing power of their brand name. And you’ll get a chance to persuade your target market not to go with this competitor. It’s multiple advantages in one.
You can also brand jack with the help of pay per click (PPC) ads. The idea here is to pay for ads with keywords related to your competitor’s brand name. It tends to be faster and more reliable, but also more expensive.
There are two big problems you might run into:
Here’s a quote clarifying Google’s position on the matter:
Advertisers may use a trademark term in ad text if they are a reseller of, offer compatible components or parts for, or provide information about the goods and services related to the trademarked term.
In other words, as long as you have something relevant to say about your competitor, you’ll be in the clear.
One of the secrets to brand jacking success is choosing the right brand jacking target.
There are no right or wrong answers here, but you should consider:
Brand jacking won’t be successful automatically. If you want a chance to succeed, you need the following ingredients, on top of the right competitive target (via competitive analysis of course):
How do you form a brand jacking strategy from the beginning?
Is brand jacking really worth the effort? To be successful, you’ll need to dedicate a lot of time and resources (and possibly money) to be competitive.
In many cases, it’s better to focus on your mainstream SEO and PPC campaigns. In others, brand jacking can yield incredible value.
It’s not always easy to tell. So consider:
One more important note: you’re not the only company thinking about brand jacking. As you’re reading this, your competitors may be plotting a brand jacking move against you. If you want to minimize their impact, you have to prepare a defense.
The first phase of defense is making sure you’re dominating the field with your own branded keywords. It shouldn’t be hard to get to the top spot with your own brand name. But what about the subsequent ranking slots? What about PPC ads for your branded terms? The more robust your branded ranking strategy is, the harder it will be for someone else to move in.
The second phase of defense is watching out for threatening new content – and fighting against it. Run searches for your branded terms and evaluate the content you see ranking (including ads). Can you write competing articles to outrank them? Can you outbid the top bidders?
Are you interested in starting a brand jacking strategy of your own? Or are you interested in learning more about SEO, PPC ads, or other digital marketing strategies? Contact SEO.co today for a free consultation!