Have you Googled your brand name lately? What about the name of your CEO or the trademark of your latest, and greatest product? We here at Greteman Group did. Along with the organic (that is, not sponsored) results we saw in the top ranks that were resources controlled by us and some glowing news articles—ads for our competitors. In the “Sponsored links” section of the search results, a couple of our competitors had bought AdWords. AdWords is a textual advertising service provided by Google, where advertisements for pages are served up based on a keyword search.

Having your own virtual properties (like a website and a Facebook profile) is great, but part of managing your online presence extends into fighting for turf in the search space. Here are some search engine tactics you should be keeping an eye on:

The Recruiter

Your competitors can bid on keywords triggered by the name of your latest product, a well-known member of the managing staff or even your brand name. Unless you’re a big name brand being targeted by lots of AdWords clients, buying “Sponsored links” on searches for your company are cheap!

+ the remedy: If your organic results are on target, then don’t worry about it. Competing with rivals for a top spot on “Sponsored links” under your own searches could quickly turn into a money pit? That aside, you might consider running similar ads on your competitor (there are ways to check whether this is bringing value).

Dirty Tricks

Some search engine marketing strategists flood search results with bogus “reports” or stack heavyweight review sites with negative feedback about their competitors’ brands. A particularly famous case is that of developer Carl Herold, who was so desperately buried by negative search results that he turned to the Reddit community for support.

+ the remedy: Beat them to the punch. Make sure you own all the relevant digital properties you can reasonably manage, and optimize them for search engine indexing. It would take a considerable effort to dethrone a brand that’s master of its own keyword kingdom.

The Powerhouse

It can be hard to break into the top results of fundamental keyword searches. In the worst cases, your main competitor is somehow dominating the results for your industry or product.

+ the remedy: Get specific. Sure, you may not be hauling in traffic for people searching for “socks” on Google. But aren’t the customers who are searching for “100% organic grown cotton socks” going to more valuable, repeat customers anyway? Optimize your site to attract these kinds of search impressions.

In the end, if you’re the only brand in your industry on the web or if you’re caught in a down and dirty scrimmage between you and a legion of tenacious competitors, the best way to fight the good Google fight is to optimize your own web presence for prime search engine indexing. And, don’t forget to Google (or Bing) yourself every once in a while.