Let’s assume that you own Majestic Motel. You began your business by launching your website in January 2020. However, another business called The Majestic Motel had already started back in October 2015. Both companies provide accomodation in Australia and primarily advertise for clients through their websites, Google or Social Media.
In this example, both businesses could be sort of screwed. There is clearly potential for consumer confusion because the names are similar and the businesses are operating in the same market, providing the same service. It could also cause time loss for both motels, as they field calls meant for the other party, enquiring about availability of rooms – or even having cross bookings intended for the different location! This could be a slippery slope to some negative reviews from disgruntled customers affecting your online reputation.
In situations like this, where both websites are on a close or even footing as far as design, features and performance go, Google will being other rules into the mix to help determine who gets ranked first.
An indicator of these rules is one such as Domain Authority – a search engine ranking score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.
Because your business is newer, it will not have the ranking history of a more long term competitor, and will require more time and effort to be ranked higher. When competing with an existing business where your new name is not tied to a long history or known brand name, it may be wiser to choose a different name to avoid competing directly online or introducing consumer confusion.
There are methods and ways around this of course, but will require additional budget for advertising and on-going SEO work to help track and improve your online position.
Having a unique name is very valuable. Think of it this way, if you were to search “hotels in Australia” googling that term would probably yield millions of results. But now imagine that you started to use a unique name – it would be much easier for people to identify the your business rather than what competitors are already online. As you build up your brand, having a unique name is going to be really helpful.
In summary, the first thing you need to determine is whether you are competitors with the business who holds the same or similar name. If you’re not competitors, then there isn’t much to worry about. If you are competitors, then you have more analysis to do to prevent consumer confusion.