June 1, 2011
What is the protocol on using competitors' brand terms to drive traffic to our site for related services? Is it a no-no? And is it considered unethical to somehow start to cleverly use the terms in our copy (without actually mentioning the brand)?
It's fine as long as you do it legally :)
Google AdWords lets you bid on competitors' brand keywords (usually), and many companies take advantage of doing this. I'm personally not a big fan of it, but it does seem to be legal and a good competitive technique.
I think that if the keyword can be used in your content the way you described – that is, in a generic way that makes sense – it should be fine. You should consult with a trademark attorney to be sure, however, because the legality is more of a concern than the search engines!