Piggyback rides – Nobody rides for free!

As a former lead generation pirate, I know a thing or two about piggybacking. And in the online lead generation world, where the world of black hat and white hat gets lost in all the gray haze it bears noting that this does piss people off, namely the person who is giving the piggyback. At some point, they will get tired and decide not only to put you down, but send you a nice letter from their lawyer. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Does Google bear any responsibility to police this since the action is occurring in their AdWords product? Google says no. Don’t shoot the messenger is probably what they think. In my experiences we used a multitude of brand names that corresponded to products we were collecting leads for. It makes sense, because many people type in brand names or head terms into Google and then click on an ad rather than using direct navigation or bookmarks. In some cases, a trademarked term used in your ad creative would cause Google to issue a warning and decline your ad copy due to infringement. But that is the ad, not the keywords, which are usually free game to bid on. A little dynamic insertion technique will render the title you need regardless of Google’s attempt to keep that term out of your ad copy. The net net here is that you can effectively siphon brand name traffic searches into your site…in droves!! I made it a practice [personal ethics] not to officially claim, falsely, that the searcher was going to enter the branded site, but if the ad copy is good enough you can still get the click and pull the customer in under an inference that you are somehow “affiliated” with the company you are bidding on you win, even if you do feel a bit “dirty”. To make this even worth doing, you’ll need content on your site that discusses the brands that you are using in your copy and bidding on in your keyword inventory, or your quality score will suffer immediately before your “gray” hat project even works out for you.

So what do you do when you get the letter from that company’s lawyer telling you to stop using their name in your ad copy? Well, you can take out the dynamic insertion and play it straight on the ad copy, but continue to advertise your “similar” product by bidding on the trademarked terms (known as a ‘conquest buy’) until your heart’s desire. Google only goes after trademark issues in ad copy and they usually won’t investigate this type of stuff unless they are alerted by a company that has been victimized. Every so often, Google makes changes to it’s algorithm, affectionately known in the industry as a “Google Dance” and you can just cross your fingers and hold your breath. I have heard of and personally witnessed the “Dance” crush some PPC campaigns into tiny little pieces. I mean, it makes sense. As a consumer, don’t you want an environment where you are not subject to any “slight of hand” to complete your transaction? You don’t want to be confused and Google doesn’t want you to be confused either. What I mean is this….doing this is a short-term gain! At some point, you will either be buried in legal paperwork or Google will kill you. When Google kills you and a keyword bid jumps from $.10 to $10, you know you had better get into another vertical. Many online lead gen companies own so many urls that they will vanish and reappear under a new url and new AdWords account, using the same content that worked before. Sometimes this will work and sometimes it won’t. Affiliates will always keep living on the edge of ethics, they need the clicks and many figure the risks are worth it. If you are selling mesothelioma leads then you’re probably right, the legal fees and harassments may be worth every penny.

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