‘In business, competition will bite you if you keep running, if you stand still, they will swallow you.’ Victor Kiam
Now with that said, this article is dedicated for all the folks on the paid search conquesting and want to nail their ppc competitor analysis. Let’s get straight into it.
Why is ppc competitor analysis important?
PPC can be hard and mean at times. Especially if your competitors know what they are doing or paying someone to do the job. Your competitors’ strategies are in one way affecting the market, your potential buyers and in turn, affecting you. You can’t afford to ignore what your competitors are doing.
Back in the day, you had to have some sort of insider news to know what your competitors are doing, but today most of what your competitors are doing is pretty much accessible. You just have to grab the information and analyse it and use it to fine-tune your overall strategy.
What is ppc competitor analysis?
Competition analysis gives you a good idea of how aggressive your competitors are, how they communicate and engage your potential buyers, and can also shed light on their overall marketing strategy. However, don’t get into the trap of following them or becoming obsessed with what they do. This should be 1 component of your entire sales & marketing strategy. Now that we got that out of the way, here are the things you can get when you do your competitor analysis.
What insights can you get?
Here are some of the major benefits of putting some effort into doing PPC competitor analysis.
- What keywords are they focused on and are you missing out on some of them
No matter how effective and comprehensive your keywords strategy is. There is a chance you are missing out on some important keywords. Having a look at what your competitors and ranking and bidding on, can give you some fresh ideas and expand your portfolio and help you tap into additional unforeseen traffic. SEM RUSH has a great tool, Keyword Gap and you can pretty much use it to see how your portfolio compares with your key competitors. You can find things like search volume, CPC and domain’s position.
Are they more focused on paid search or organic results?
Knowing your competitors’ key strengths and weaknesses across organic search and paid search will help you strategise your campaign better. There are many tools (some mentioned in this article) that can help you get deep insights into that. For example, if they are very aggressive on some keywords with paid search and neglecting organic search, you can choose to not get involved in a bidding war and focus on ranking organically. It all comes down to your overall strategy and your business KPIs.
- What digital channels are they focusing on
This is more of a high-level analysis to understand what the main channels driving their traffic are. Are they heavily depending on organic searches or are they putting more focus on paid search and other PPC channels and which ones? Compare that with your current formula and get some perspective. This will broaden your thinking and help you be more confident about your strategy.
How to get started
Be very clear on what you are trying to find out
It is quite easy to get lost in an endless stream of numbers and data. Be efficient with it. Write down your top 3 – 5 things you want to find out. Some of these could be
- What channels are they focusing on across their product portfolio and how does that compare to our strategy?
- Which keywords are they dedicating the majority of time, effort and money on?
- What are their seasonality strategies? And how does that change throughout the month and the year?
- What percentage of traffic are they stealing from us and how does that compare over time?
- What are their demographic bidding strategies like?
AdWords Auction Insights
The AdWords Auction Insights report will show you some key important metrics that will get you to dive deep into how your competitors are performing in ad search compared to you. Two of our favourite metrics in auction insights are:
- Impression Share
This is basically the % of times your ad appeared when you were eligible to appear. Don’t confuse this with the % of audience you are appearing and bidding to. Impression share only looks at the keywords you were eligible to show an ad for. This basically is telling you how more impressions you could get if your competitors weren’t bidding as high as they were or if you decide to bid higher.
- Position Above Rate
This one is quite important as it also gives another important perspective on how aggressive your competition is. Position Above rate tells you how often your competitors’ ads were shown above yours for every time your ads were shown. A high percentage means your ads are more often than not showing below your competitors.
What other tools can you use?
Besides SEMRush which comes with a stack of tools and has a free search option, SpyFu is a great and affordable tool that helps you analyse your competitors’ PPC and organic performance on keywords level. You can see figures on numbers of pages that reach the first page for organic and paid keywords. You can also see estimates on their budgets and monthly clicks. For organic keywords, you can even see backlinks recommendations and more. They have several helpful tools beyond the competitor analysis.
These guys let you find out how much your competitors are spending per month on AdWords, download competitor SEO keyword lists, find profitable keywords, create alerts, and much more. At the same time, they are very well priced, and we think this tool is a good value for money.