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Competitor's using my company name in meta tags

What should I do?

     
10:33 pm on Sep 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi Iím new to Seo stuff and I just discovered a competitor that has our company name and our url in their meta keyword tags. They also have other competitors listed as well. My question is that illegal as far as google is concerned or any other search engine? Is there any action I can take to prevent this?
6:19 pm on Sept 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi, Greg94 and welcome to WebmasterWorld!

As far as the search engines, no, they won't take action unless it involves their paid advertising programs. I don't really know if what they are doing is illegal or not, to be honest. But if I were you, I'd contact the site owner directly and ask them to remove all references of your name from their site. If they don't comply, then I'd look into the legal implications further. Good luck.
6:32 pm on Sept 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply. I did some searching and it seems that its in a grey area.

Can I report it as spam to Google?

3:17 pm on Sept 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Google wouldn't consider it spam, so I wouldn't bother. I really think the best thing to do is contact the website owner and ask them to remove your name.
5:18 pm on Sept 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You may want to consult an attorney about that. There may be some precedence where a company was sued and had to remove the metas, but only an attorney can talk to you about that, if you want to go down that route.

Alternately you may want to try filing a DMCA. Be sure to word it well and don't ramble. Be direct. Don't tell any back story. Don't talk about how it's hurting your business. Don't talk about spam. That's all rambling. Just be direct and give the info that the search engines need.

Probably the best way to handle it is to pick up the phone and have a friendly conversation with them. Don't lose your temper. Just be normal. That can work well, fastest, and cheapest.

3:59 pm on Sept 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I work on websites for a particular industry where the tactic of using competing companies as your keywords is oft used. They go even further by creating Google AdWords campaigns that strictly use other companies as keywords, so that if you search for "John's Novelty Gifts", a sponsored link comes up for "Sarah's Novelty Gifts". I take issue with this as well, but I wonder if there's really anything you can do about it. I'd like to see one of the experts in this forum give a solid explanation about the legality of such tactics.

I would imagine in the end, it depends on the industry you're in. My reasoning as to why it is probably legal in the industry I work in is as follows, using those "novelty gifts" stores as examples:

If a prospective customer types "john's novelty gifts" into Google... they are looking for one of two things:

1. Novelty gifts, wherever they can find them. Perhaps they had heard the name "john's novelty gifts" somewhere, which is why they've searched for it.
2. The actual "John's novelty gifts" store, because they have some interest in that particular store.

in the #1 scenario, they're looking for novelty gifts, not for your company. So if another company can provide novelty gifts, the customer shouldn't be denied that information. In this case, the customer would be perfectly content to see "Sarah's Novelty Gifts" as a search result.

in the #2 scenario, someone who for some reason cannot type your actual url into a browser is using an SE to get to your site. If such a customer sees "Sarah's Novelty Gifts" as a search result, they would not be interested, as that is not what they are looking for. At least, that's the theory.

It's not all that different from someone opening up a store next door to yours that sells the same items... if someone walks down that sidewalk looking for what you sell, you by no means have the right to monopolize the selling of that product on that street... even if it seems totally unscrupulous for a competitor to open up right next door to you. If someone's looking for your store in particular, then they wouldn't give the time of day to the store next door.

The difference with your issue is that piggybacking a competitor's URL is more like them trying to open up a competing store on a street that you OWN.

4:10 pm on Sept 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I'm no PPC expert, but here is what I know as far as what is allowed by Google.

Specific to Google adwords, it's within their rules to bid on a competitor's name. Many people, I included, like to comparison shop. The name of a competitor is relevant so far as the type of product offered. So one could argue that there is a benefit to the user to be offered an alternative product.

Although if someone is using your business' name or other copyrighted/trademarked phrase in the actual text of their ad, you do have recourse to asking Google to remove the offending ad. But my understanding is that you have to ask.

4:37 pm on Sept 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Are the names being used trademarks belonging to other companies? That could make a huge difference IMO (but I'm not a lawyer).
3:18 pm on Sept 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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yes our name is protected. Our name is unique and could not be mistaken for a product.