How Competitors are Stealing Your Leads

(and what you can do about it)

businessman stealing notepad from office

An easy way for businesses to steal your online leads may be happening every day. If you’re not aware of it or if you do nothing about it, your competitors will continue this strategy forever. It costs very little for them to do, and it obviously works or they would not continue the practice.

How they Steal your Leads

To see if businesses are indeed stealing your leads, head on over to Bing. While this happens on Google too, more people get away with on Bing.

Now enter your company name in the Bing search bar and check for ads at the top of the list. If your company listing is not at the top of Bing when searching on your name but an ad is there for some other company instead, there is some stealing going on. Hint: Try this exercise during a busy time of the day for your business. Many competitors turn their ads off during typically slow hours so you won’t know if they’re doing this or not.

The companies who placed an ad that is competing with you recognize that your site is getting traffic that they want. So they simply bid on your company name. Many people click on the ad instead of your listing and hence, there goes your lead. Here are some examples:

Example 1 – Bidding on the Business Name . . . illegally in one instance.

bing serp on term "melvin belk roofing"

Search term: melvin belk roofing.

  • The top ad is for Home Advisor
  • The second ad is for Simpli.com
  • The third listing, the first organic one, is the actual Melvin Belk Roofing website

Is this legal?

In the Melvin Belk Roofing instance above, the top ad is legal because it doesn’t mention the company name. It is ok to bid on a competitor’s name as long as the name is not in the ad itself. There can be grey areas on this, but this one is pretty clear.

The second ad is not legal and the company could be reported. While your competitors can bid on your company name so their ad shows when it is searched, they cannot use your company name in the ad itself unless they actually sell your products or services. They used the name twice in the ad and once in the domain page name.

Regardless of whether this is legal or not, unless someone reports the illegal activity, it will likely continue. 

Example 2 – Bidding on “part” of the business name

bing serp on term "lange flooring center"

Search Term: lange flooring center

  • The first ad is for Empire
  • The second ad is for Floor & Decor
  • The third listing, the first organic one, is for Lange Flooring Center’s website

In this example, it is possible that the competitors bid on anything that has the term “flooring” as part of the search. But the result is the same in that leads are being stolen from Lange Flooring Center.

Example 3 – Duplicate company name

Our final example involves a duplicate company name. Neither business is trademarked, but they are located in different states.

The search was on ‘jacksons western store’ This is in Wayland Michigan and I searched on it from Grand Rapids Michigan, about 20 minutes away.

bing serp on term "jacksons western store"
  • The first ad is for Jackson’s Western Store, but it is for the store in North Carolina, not the one in Michigan. This one actually has a copyright symbol in the ad, which is not legal unless the name is copyrighted. A business name is not copyrighted anyway, it is trademarked. Thus if it were trademarked, it should have an R, not a C.
  • The second ad is for Sheplers, an out of state competitor
  • The third listing contains featured image results, again from the store in North Carolina
  • The fourth listing, the first organic one, is for Jackson’s Western Store in North Carolina.
  • The fifth listing, the second organic one, is for Jackson’s Western Store in Michigan.

So you can see, there are some shady strategies going on in the PPC space. While you may have loyal customers who quickly realize they are on the wrong site, it doesn’t seem worth it to take the chance.

Especially when you can do something about it.

Take Your Leads Back

By starting a PPC ad campaign and bidding on your company’s name, you should get top placement, especially if your company name and domain name are the same. 

Not only that, but it is very inexpensive to bid on your business name. Much less expensive than it is for your competitors to do so.

Even if you start up a PPC ad campaign only for your company name, it will get you the leads going forward. The leads signify someone is specifically looking for you or what you sell. Those are the no brainer leads and the best kind!

About the Author

Beverly Mapes, Founder, President

Beverly Mapes

Founder & President, Top Of The List

Bev founded Top Of The List in 2006 and has over 25 years of experience working with technology. In her free time, she competes in dog agility competitions with her Golden Retrievers, Cosmo, and Finn.