|Running with the brand names|
Not sure if this is a very novel approach, but here goes.
I just discovered that a certain brand name keyword does enormous trafic....much more so than the generic product.
"Acme widgets" gets about 100 times as many seaches than just plain "widgets" (I guess because Acme pretty much IS widgets).
Owning a small time widget site, I'm thinking I should optimize for "Acme widgets" to maybe get some overflow, or whatever. If I choose my verbiage wisely (i.e. "an Acme widget type alternative") I'm thinking I'll be safe from any repercussions from Acme. I've seen a few sites doing this, but have no idea how they might be doing as far as whether their "Acme" is okay with them doing it.
Has anyone tried this? Do I need to consult an attorney? Or am I just a little paranoid?
No, you're not paranoid. If you use their trademarked name and gain financial benefit from it (in increased traffic/conversions, let's say), then Acme may have a case of against you. You're in significant jeopardy (assuming Acme is aggressive) if you use their name in titles, metas, or cloaking. However, this gets fuzzy if you are making comparisons, such as "10 reasons XYZ widgets are better than those manufactured by ACME" -and spiders visit those pages, too.
The real issue comes down to whether the consumer may be confused in any way as to which company/product is which. I've seen some very far-reaching legal judgements in the press on this that have gone in favor of the trademark holder. In one case, involving a foreign webmaster using dotcoms, the FTC had NetSol revoke the registration of the domains. In another more recent one, the offending publisher was ordered not to use the word in the domain and EVEN in the url (as subdirectory names). These actions literally wiped the opposing sites off the face of the web.
disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer (Thank Goodness!).
There is a new 'Cybersquatting' law that went into affect, I believe this year. You might check it out by searching the web. It has some very severe penalities and most brands can stop you without going to court. Even if your are right in what you are doing, can you afford to battle the big guys?
In most cases you would want to avoid it, unless you give them all your profits!
>>However, this gets fuzzy if you are making comparisons, such as "10 reasons XYZ widgets are better than those manufactured by ACME" -and spiders visit those pages, too.
I have used this strategy many times, and have been quite successful with it. If you create a feature comparison page you will have the opportunity to use ACME widgets quite often. Another thing that works well is to develop an FAQ section that includes a question that relates to ACME widgets.
Just make sure that you include the appropriate trademark info for each product you mention at the bottom of the page. As long as there is "ACME widgets is a registered trademark of ACME, Inc." on the page, you are on pretty firm ground.
What you definitely don't want to do is try and draw traffic to your page by cloaking or hiding competitor's trademarks in any way. That will almost guarantee that you will end up getting a nasty letter from an attorney