Is it unethical to take advantage of a competitor's mistake?

by 117 replies
I was doing my usual competitor scouting on google to check out the competition, and I noticed an adwords ad, where they had mis-typed their url. Example - they had put widget-big.com, instead of big-widget.com. I look at the adwords link and it goes nowhere. So then I do a search, and find that the url is not registered. I register the url and have a website up in about 15 minutes. Now I'm getting free traffic from a url mistype.
#main internet marketing discussion forum #advantage #competitor #mistake #unethical
  • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
    LMAO - unethical, no!

    Smart, yes.
    • Profile picture of the author CmdrStidd
      ROFL - That has got to hurt the other guy. How long before he realizes that he is getting all these click throughs on the ad but is not making any sales? I am sure he would check the ad to see he had it right and will notice his misspelled URL.

      Please let us know how long you get free traffic from his typo. I want to see how long this poor schlep takes to figure out his mistake. lol
  • Profile picture of the author Clyde Dennis
    One word... Nope! I agree w/Jeremy - very smart.
  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I call it a lucky break and good that you noticed it. Capitalizing on mistakes isn't unethical in my book.
  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    I'm sure it won't last for too long, but I couldn't resist. That sort of mistake pays for a domain registration usually in less than an hour.

    What's really fun is to find an unregistered url that was mis-spoken on TV. I've done that before as well. Free money, you gotta love it!
    • Profile picture of the author ~Davor Debrecin~
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      What's really fun is to find an unregistered url that was mis-spoken on TV. I've done that before as well. Free money, you gotta love it!
      Hm, just curious - how do you actually find out if a URL is mis-spoken on TV? Do you check every URL you see on TV?

      If you do, you really have an interesting habit.

      If you do check every URL shown on TV, could you share with us the "mis-spoken conversion rate" haha? If it's one in a 100, boy, I'd hire someone to watch TV all day..



      Take care,

      ~Davor
  • Profile picture of the author Pete223
    That's hilarious!!!!!!

    Unethical, absolutely not... opportunist is what comes to my mind!!!!!

    Cheers, Pete
  • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
    I would say it's fair. I wonder, however, how long before the Google Adwords algo uncovers this problem and suspends the ad due to a QS of 0. You may need to act fast.
  • Profile picture of the author pretter
    lucky dude I must say.

    Not unethical for me, but I understand your little guilt feeling, I would feel the same way too, because I'd want to contact the guy about his URl
    • Profile picture of the author garyv
      Originally Posted by pretter View Post

      lucky dude I must say.

      Not unethical for me, but I understand your little guilt feeling, I would feel the same way too, because I'd want to contact the guy about his URl
      I was actually going to do that first, but his original url had a private whois - so, oh well. At least I tried.
  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    As the others have stated, no. Luck is when opportunity and preparedness meet. This was your lucky day for sure. I doubt it will last very long. But Google is going to take the money no matter what. At least this way someone benefits from it. You have to feel sorry for the guy that is paying for it though. Such is life.
  • Profile picture of the author Jon Steel
    His mistake...What can I say? I would do it -

    js
  • Profile picture of the author BurgerBoy
    I would do the same thing you did. I just wish I had thought about it before you did.
  • Profile picture of the author xohaibx
    Unethical in no way! In fact, it's always good to learn from mistakes others make, especially if they are your competitor! lol
  • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
    It is unethical and scummy. How would you like it if the tables were turned?
    • Profile picture of the author garyv
      Originally Posted by Rich Struck View Post

      It is unethical and scummy. How would you like it if the tables were turned?
      I'd hate the fact that I made the mistake and would hope that someone would email me and let me know. And that's what I tried to do in the beginning, however the original url had no contact information, and the registration info in the whois was private.

      That's money just being thrown out the window in my opinion. I'm just providing the bucket to catch it with. If that makes me scummy, then bring on the scum
    • Profile picture of the author JennJessop
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      There was a time when it happened quite often. Now the competition is fierce.

      The most recent one was just a few days ago, when someone on Fox News Channel's Red Eye made up the url yellowfellows.org. Don't remember what they were talking about, but when I heard that url, I could tell that he had just made it up on the fly. So I checked it, and it was un-registered. I took it, and haven't really done much with it yet, but it will get free traffic every time that they re-run that show. Plus they show red eye episodes on hulu.com.

      That is awsome. Again second time I have said this tonight, way to think out side of the box. You always have to keep your eyes open for those great opportunities out there. They are out there you just have to look. And Congrats on the find, definitely not unethical just business.


      Originally Posted by Rich Struck View Post

      It is unethical and scummy. How would you like it if the tables were turned?
      Kick my self for not double checking my spelling. If I was stupid enough to make this mistake I would say thats what I get and the money lost is my punishment. This is not scummy at all again, just business.
    • Profile picture of the author Kim Standerline
      Are you kidding, of course its not unethical (or scummy)

      Serves him right for making such a stupid mistake, Gary already said he tried to warn him

      Kim

      Originally Posted by Rich Struck View Post

      It is unethical and scummy. How would you like it if the tables were turned?
  • Profile picture of the author Randy Bheites
    The real takeaway here is simple:

    Always QC your work.
  • Profile picture of the author traceye
    That's gold. I wouldn't even think to check if they had the correct url or not.

    I would have done the same and registered it quick smart.
  • Profile picture of the author CrimeCleaner
    Banned
    [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
    I'm learning a lot about some of the members of this board.
  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    Again, I wasn't trying to be mean to the guy/gal - I actually made an attempt to try and contact them first. But this is traffic that was going to absolutely nowhere.

    And if you look at it in another way, I may actually be saving his Google Quality score.
    • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
      Originally Posted by garyv View Post

      Again, I wasn't trying to be mean to the guy/gal - I actually made an attempt to try and contact them first. But this is traffic that was going to absolutely nowhere.

      And if you look at it in another way, I may actually be saving his Google Quality score.
      No matter how you spin it, you are stealing his traffic. The fact that the traffic was going nowhere doesn't give you some kind of license to swipe it. Is that really how you want to conduct your business?
  • Profile picture of the author George Wright
    [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author actionplanbiz
    you still getting traffic from it?
  • Profile picture of the author mhuktar
    Banned
    [DELETED]
    • Profile picture of the author stephenraj
      Originally Posted by mhuktar View Post

      "Is it unethical to take advantage of a competitor's mistake?" is notUnethical, absolutely not, SEO is learning from someone Mistake. you need to learn how to find mistake of someone enable to outsmart him.
      You are right. And what he did was a smart thing, he is getting traffic for free from someone's ads. . .

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