Sending Bad Customers to Competitors

One of my friends thought that a good keyword to rank for was cheap widgets. Now on the receiving end of those customers, my friend regrets ranking #1 for cheap widgets. Has anyone ever mentioned poisoning competing business models by sending them floods of low quality leads? If someone helped you rank for junk, and you figured it out, how would you counter? Alter the topic of the page? Remove the page from your site if it was of low value? Change the purpose of the page to harvest and distribute link equity? Point a few links at authoritative websites (like newspapers)? Edit the Wikipedia to put a few extra words in an article? Create parasitic pages on authoritative sites that outrank your site? Recommend a competitor's services to all your bad customers? .htaccess redirect to a page full of ads or a competitor based on referral string? Buy the associated ads for a competitor? Get a competitor links and help them outrank you?

The web is a fairly anonymous place in many ways, and as long as a technique is (remotely close to) legal people will do it. Not saying that I advocate it, but it is good to think about what you would do if any important variables in your business changed (like lead quality, competition in the marketplace, changing technology, etc.)

Published: February 10, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


February 16, 2007 - 10:30pm

I have to disagree with your Aaron, I think that people that are looking for cheap have already pre-qualified themselves as purchasers.

You don't type in cheap if you want to find out about something, you type in cheap when you're ready to buy.

This, as I see it, is a big advantage.

Maybe crap widgets may be a better term for your example. :)

February 16, 2007 - 10:56pm

They may want to buy, but they may not want you to have any profit margin. That was the point of the post.

February 10, 2007 - 3:40am

How about.. signing up for an affiliate account with the competitor and filling the targeted page with affiliate links to them? They can deal with the junk traffic, and I still get a cut of any legitimate customers who come through :)

February 10, 2007 - 1:50pm

I would turn it into an upsell page and tell people why "cheap widgets" are crap and why "premium widgets" are the way to go. Perhaps you could link to your competitors who sell these low quality inferior widgets, and even better if it is through an AFF link.

February 10, 2007 - 7:32pm

Fun post that reminds you how bad some customers really are. What a timesuck.

Aaron Pratt
February 10, 2007 - 10:37pm

How about this. I rank pretty well for "Aaron" so ranking well for "Aaron Wall Sucks" would be as simple as creating a new page. I would be more concerned about this type of thing because it is not googlebombing and there is no algorithmic devaluation for it.

I rank for "SEO feed widgets" and there is not such a thing, yet. ;)

February 11, 2007 - 1:16am

I've never thought to turn bad customers over to competitors. If I don't offer what a client wants or I simple do not wish to deal with them, I usually tell them to search google for what they're looking for. Interesting ;).

February 11, 2007 - 2:39am

I like werty's upsell strategy. Why cheap widgets suck and why you should buy an expensive one instead, sounds like a decent plan and already work within your existing business model (meaning you don't have to try and become effcient with affilliate systems or try adsense.) I don't think there are that many people with this problem though. I mean there always a way to benefit from the traffic somehow (adsense, affilliate if the upsell thing didn't work)

February 11, 2007 - 2:42am

Personally, I would redirect on referrer string to an adsense page and claim the cash. Done right, you can make a business out of cheap widgets also.

February 11, 2007 - 8:31am

I would turn it into an upsell page and tell people why "cheap widgets" are crap and why "premium widgets" are the way to go.

February 11, 2007 - 6:17pm

Great article
I would be careful with the idea of up sell. In 99% of cases, the customer is looking for cheap, (search) that's what he wants. (Budget a big issue).
Very difficult to change some ones mind. This is my opinion as I’m not a SEO Specialist rather just a Business Owner.
An up sell only works out if the price difference is not too big and you have a valid point (on which your customer has to agree on) that your product is better.
It can work but the industry in which you compete has big influence on it. And you are only one click close to a sale or away from it.
I have to sell most of my products with the idea of up sell. In my case it’s just the nature of my business. So therefore names like cheap do not exist in my vocabulary. It would draw the wrong customer. I just use the opposite of it, in different words. Interestingly it works out!
But I do watch my so called cheap competitors to see what they are using to draw customers to their site and cheap is a main vocabulary with them.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Gain a Competitive Advantage Today

Your top competitors have been investing into their marketing strategy for years.

Now you can know exactly where they rank, pick off their best keywords, and track new opportunities as they emerge.

Explore the ranking profile of your competitors in Google and Bing today using SEMrush.

Enter a competing URL below to quickly gain access to their organic & paid search performance history - for free.

See where they rank & beat them!

  • Comprehensive competitive data: research performance across organic search, AdWords, Bing ads, video, display ads, and more.
  • Compare Across Channels: use someone's AdWords strategy to drive your SEO growth, or use their SEO strategy to invest in paid search.
  • Global footprint: Tracks Google results for 120+ million keywords in many languages across 28 markets
  • Historical data: since 2009, before Panda and Penguin existed, so you can look for historical penalties and other potential ranking issues.
  • Risk-free: Free trial & low price.
Your competitors, are researching your site

Find New Opportunities Today