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How to identify and analyse your PPC competition

PPC provides businesses with quick and impressive results, but there are countless other brands hoping their ad comes out on top. This is why competitor analysis is a valuable tool and essential to your PPC success.

Each PPC platform will bring its own complexities – but the insights you can take from competitor research and analysis can help you to stay ahead. We’re going to focus on the following types of competitor research:

  • Search Keywords  
  • Ad Copy  
  • Landing Pages  

Let’s start with PPC Search keywords:  

1. Search Keywords  

This is typically the most common type of competitor research in PPC. It’s the process of exploring the keywords that users are targeting when using major search platforms like Google.

PPC involves bidding against competitors for the search terms you want to rank for – meaning each search query is an action.   

Gaining insights into your competitors’ keywords can directly impact your PPC and bidding strategy. So, where would you start?

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)  

You can analyse SERPs to identify what sites are appearing for what searches. This works by actively searching for relevant key terms on Google or another search engine. For example, an online clothes retailer selling activewear could search for something like this:  

Google Search Mens Activewear
Google Search

This way, you can see what appears, in real-time, from a consumer perspective. If your site is not appearing, you can use this to see what the highest performers are doing differently and how you could incorporate this or do something different to stand out going forward.  

Keep in mind that by repeatedly searching for your ad, you may be increasing impressions with no clicks. This could signal to search engines that your ads are not relevant to this particular search.   

Also, each search is a new auction meaning no two results will be the same. Searching for a keyword can provide you with varied results over a period of time. Luckily, there are ways around this:  

Ad Preview Tools  

You can use the anonymous Ad Preview tool provided by Google Ads. This lets you enter any search term and preview a Google SERP to see if your ads appear. You can select mobile, desktop or tablet results.

You’ll access a sample results page showing whether your ad is appearing as well as what other ads are ranking for that same search. Here is an example of a mobile search results preview:

Mobile Search Results on Google Preview

If you’re going to be checking up on positions regularly then it’s better to do so without increasing the official impression count on your ads. This is a way of benefittig from this tactic without signalling poor ad relevancy – this is a great alternative.   

Auction Insights  

Auction Insights can show you which competitors have appeared alongside you. The Auction insights report allows you to measure performance alongside other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions. You can access insights around impression share, position above rate and overlap rate for one or more campaigns, ad groups or keywords.

It’s worth keeping in mind that these won’t always be 100% accurate as there may be some gaps. Competitors who are appearing may not always show in the report.   

More tools:

There are several helpful tools offered by third-party companies that can help you to optimise your PPC search strategy, including:

You can use these tools to gain metrics and insights to understand how your competitors are bidding on keywords and appearing online. We would recommend running these third-party tools on your site first. That way, you can get a real sense of how accurate the results are in terms of your keyword list and ad spend.    

2. Ad Copy  

Your competitors ad copy can also help you to make suitable changes to your PPC campaigns. For example, try looking out for the following when analysing other ads: 

  • What are they highlighting?  
  • Are they inflicting any specific emotion?  
  • How clear is their call to action (CTA)?
  • Are they offering any incentives, promotions, or discounts?  

By focusing on the top position ads, you can start to develop your ad copy to ensure your business is standing out.  

Let’s say a competing brand is offering a discount – is there any incentive to click on your ad? Do you want to focus on highlighting why your product is of higher quality? What is your unique selling proposition? Think about what makes your product or service the more relevant and reliable option for consumers.  

You can utilise a lot of the same tools for this process. The Ad Preview Tool can show the ad copy your competitors are using. iSpionage can reveal your competitors conversion strategies as well as which ad variants are running.

3. Landing Pages  

Last but not least; landing pages play a significant part in the success and ROI of your PPC advertising. When analysing competitors, you should look at where ads are leading users once they click.

The ad copy is what draws a user in, but the landing page is there to lead users further down the marketing funnel and finalise a conversion. A high-quality and optimised landing page is essential to avoid deterring customers. 
 
Consider the following:  

  • What does the page look like in terms of layout and colour scheme?  
  • Are the prices listed on the landing page?  
  • What type of content is used (videos, infographics, etc.)?  
  • Is their brand voice clear? And are they using a specific tone of voice?  
  • Does the page include a contact form?   
  • What is the call to action, and is it a straightforward process?  
  • Does the page have a direct link to the ad copy?  

What are the highest performing pages doing differently? Crafting your ad copy to stand out is one thing – but you’ll need to create landing pages that follow up and provide solutions for users once they click. If this is the case, Google will recognise how useful your page is and reward you with a higher rank.  

How to use competitor research

PPC is a highly competitive digital marketing channel – meaning having insights into your competitors strategies is essential if you want to stay ahead of the game. That also involves regularly reviewing performance and optimising your PPC ads and landing pages accordingly.

Overtaking your competition doesn’t always mean outbidding them. It’s about analysing their tactics and using any gaps or weakness to stay one step ahead. Instead of implementing their tactics, try to focus on what can make your business different.

Please get in touch with our PPC team if you have any questions.