PPC Competitive Intelligence: How to Gain the Upper Hand on Your Competitors

PPC Competitive Intelligence: How to Gain the Upper Hand on Your Competitors

When it comes to pay-per-click advertising, knowing what your competitors are doing and how you compare can help take your marketing efforts to the next level. By doing a little bit of research, you can see how your keywords, ads, landing pages and overall strategies stack up against the competition. From there, it’s easy to take any insights you learn and make adjustments to your own advertising campaigns to gain a competitive advantage.

10 Steps to Improve Your PPC Campaigns and Gain the Competitive Advantage

1. Conduct keyword research

When setting up your advertising campaigns, you most likely conducted a lot of research to determine what keywords, ad groups, and campaigns to run. However, it’s likely that you didn’t uncover every keyword opportunity during that first phase of research.

Find similar #keywords that your competition is ranking for by using #Google Keyword Planner. Click To Tweet

You can use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to find similar keywords to the ones you’re running and see if your competitors are ranking for any of those terms. In addition, this is a great opportunity to see who your biggest competitors are and even bid on their brand names.


2. Compare your ad copy to the competition

You can learn a lot about what your competitors have to offer – and where you have an opportunity to grow – just by reviewing their ad copy. You might notice that a competitor is using different ad formats or different types of ad extensions that help their ads rank higher than yours or making their ads stand out more. For example, a competitor using expanded text ads instead of the older standard text ad format will have more room to advertise their services:

This makes it easy to uncover strategies to improve your own ad copy, create additional ad extensions, or test using new types of ad formats so you can better compete.

3. Observe which type of ads your competitors are running

Take the competitive analysis one step further by seeing what types of ads your competitors are running. While most of your competitors are probably running some form of text ad, you can also see if they’re running display, video, or remarketing ads.

To view your competitor’s text ads, simply look for their company name or services within the search engine. To see if they’re running remarketing ads, you can visit their website and then see if their ads start showing up on websites or social media networks you also visit.

You can test new ad formats after observing which types of ads your competitors use. Click To Tweet

4. Find out where they’re advertising

In addition to what types of ads your competitors are running, you should examine where they are advertising. In today’s marketing world, the options for advertising are continuously growing, and you can now see ads on social media, search networks, and in supporting pieces of content, just to name a few.

If you see your competitor running a social media advertising campaign and getting a lot of engagement on their page, it might unveil a new advertising opportunity for your own business.

5. Review competitor’s landing pages

Creating an effective landing page is essential for any paid advertising effort. A high-quality landing page is the best way to lower bounce rates and get people to sign up for your product or service. Just as with ad copy, reviewing landing pages created by your competitors can help gain insight into areas where your company can improve and gain the upper hand.

For example, your competitors might be using a different type of landing page, different colors or fonts, or may have additional types of content such as videos or descriptions. While it would be unethical to copy your competitor’s landing pages, observing what type of information they’re offering to searchers can provide great ideas on what to test on your own landing pages.

Reviewing landing pages created by your competitors can help gain insight into areas where your company can improve. Click To Tweet

6. View their pricing structure

It’s important to keep an eye on how your competitors are pricing their products or services in order to remain competitive. If your goal is to get people to sign up for an appointment, it’s helpful to know how much your competitors are charging for that same appointment. If your goal is to get people to make a purchase, say through a shopping ad, it’s helpful to know how much your competitors are charging for the same product so you know whether or not your pricing is competitive enough.

If a potential customer can find a similar product or service for a lesser price from a competitor, and you offer no other unique value propositions, then that customer is likely to choose your competitor based on price alone.

If you notice your competition offers the same product or service as your company, but at a lower rate, it might be worth lowering your prices or adding some information that details why your product or service costs more.

7. Consider creating discounts or sales

Just as it’s important to keep an eye on competitor pricing, it’s helpful to know when your competitors are running discounts or sales. If you’re able to compete or even beat what they’re offering, you’re more likely to gain more new customers over the competition.

Know what discount or sales your competition offers by signing up for their email list. Click To Tweet

Aside from visiting their websites on a regular basis, a great way to keep track of any sales or promotions your competitors are running is to sign up for their email lists. If they are running a good lead nurture campaign, they will most likely send an email alerting you to any new discounts or special offers.

8. Highlight value propositions

While pricing, discounts, and sales are usually monetary, value propositions can help differentiate a company by showing what they can bring to the table that others can’t. Seeing what value propositions your competitors are advertising can help you determine what you want to entice customers with.

Some examples of good value propositions are:

  • Years of experience
  • Emergency services
  • Availability outside of regular business hours
  • Same-day services
  • Free shipping
  • Free setup or installation
  • Free trial or money back guarantee
  • Customized options

9. Use auction insights

If you’re advertising on Google AdWords, you can use the Auction Insights tool to see how your campaigns and ad groups perform against your competitors. The tool will list your top competitors and provide insight on the following:

  • Impression Share: How often your ads show when eligible compared to your competitors.
  • Average Position: Where your ads rank on average compared to your competitors.
  • Overlap Rate: How often a competitor’s ad showed in the same search results page as yours.
  • Position Above Rate: How often a competitor’s ad in the same auction shows in a higher position than your own.
  • Top of Page Rate: How often your ad or a competitor’s ad was shown at the top of the search results page.
  • Outranking Share: How often your ad ranked higher than a competitor’s ad, or if your ad showed when a competitor’s ad did not.

10. Utilize automated tools for extra help

While most of the competitive intelligence we’ve mentioned requires manual research, there are some great tools out there that can help you gain some insight:

  • SEMRush: This comprehensive tool provides an understanding of your competitor’s strategies around paid advertising, as well as organic and link building. Within the tool, you can see your competitor’s keywords, ad copy, and budgets. You can also see what your competitors are doing in terms of display and video advertising, as well as any shopping campaigns they may be running.
  • SpyFu: This tool allows you to search for any domain and see where they show on Google for paid and organic efforts, the keywords they’re bidding on, and the ad copy they’re running.
  • iSpionage: With iSpionage, you can examine competitor keyword lists and see if their keywords are effective. You can also gain visibility into their campaign structure, how much traffic they’re getting, and how much they’re spending each month. iSpionage also allows you to easily examine competitor offers and landing pages.

Put Your Competitive Intelligence to Work

Conducting a comprehensive competitive analysis should be an ongoing effort for any advertiser. Once you learn who your main competitors are, it will become easier to gain competitive intelligence on a consistent basis and use any insights you gain to help form your own marketing strategy. With a strong paid media campaign and beneficial competitive intelligence, you can take your business to the next level.

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Jen Rubio

Jen grew up in Western New York, where she received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University, and later relocated to Phoenix in 2009. She has worked with a variety of businesses doing content writing, SEO, and PPC advertising. In her free time, Jen likes to travel, go to concerts, and hang out with her pets (two dogs, a cat, and a lizard).