How Do I Analyze Competitors’ PPC ads and Why Would I want to?

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Some say that analyzing a competitor’s PPC strategy is a total waste of time. Others might say that it may help you to save your money by learning from competitor’s mistakes. I say you should try it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

In this article, I’ll try to go through the process in a step-by-step manner explaining the motives behind each action. Let’s find out what we can achieve from this method!

Where to start when analyzing competitors’ ads?

As with everything, and in this case analyzing your competitors, you need to understand what you’re doing and why. Here are some crucial points for the analysis of contextual advertising:

  • the number and quality of queries and ads within the subject — to see the whole picture and assess the competition;
  • the quality of the headings and texts (paying attention to the offer, CTA);
  • keywords — to find out what keywords the competition may be bidding on; how many of keywords per ad they use. It can be helpful when working on your own keyword list.
  • destination page — to find where competitors are sending traffic; estimate their landing pages.

Number of queries within the subject

To get this information, we can use some services which can help automate this acquisition such as Serpstat, Ahrefs, SEMrush. I’ll go with Serpstat.

For example, you’re running an online jewelry store and want to know about the competition on the gold rings. Just enter your keyword «Gold rings» into the search box and get the summary report, where you can find many keywords in the PPC ads. You also can choose a different region for the search engine.

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What do we get?

Now we know that there is a demand for the product we promote, and it’s pretty big — about 1000 queries.

Using this report, you can understand the level of competition in PPC and decide if it’s worth investing in it. Without doing this little research, there’s a significant risk to lose your money: the query can be too competitive (not worth efforts) or not competitive at all (which means that nobody cares about it).

Number and quality of ads

And again, we can’t do it manually because search engines don’t provide us with the information on how many ads our competitors have and what keywords they’re bidding on. SEO tool can gather this information in one place:

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What do we get?

With this report, we can recognize the strong and weak spots of our competitors’ PPC strategy. See, every word matters as to advertisement text so we should be careful working on it. Analysis of competitors’ texts might be coming in handy now.

Сomposing your advertising text without competitive analysis, we risk making a similar advertisement, or one even worse than the existing ones.

Let’s try to analyze one of them.

Title: Black Gold Engagement Rings — 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Text: 100% Authentic Black Gold Engagement Rings. Free FedEx Shipping & 30 Day Return!

What comes to mind? As for me, phrases «100% satisfaction guarantee» and «30 day return» really kind of contradict each other, to say the least. Moreover, «30 day return» paints a picture of a runaway bride and jilted groom. Should wedding ring ads cause such feelings?

All joking aside, before embarking on the creation of your own text, read about 100 existing texts to have a baseline for your ads. I guess the folks who wrote this one skipped over this step. This is what they got.

Keywords

The report from the previous screenshot presents keywords that your competitor is bidding on in search advertising. You can analyze this column, as well jot down some ideas for your own campaign. Since this post is meant for competitor analysis, I won’t go into detail on how to collect keywords. You can also find some good PPC keyword research guides to study the subject.

I’ll be brief and suggest following these steps:

  • Check your competitors — find out their primary keywords from the most successful ads;
  • Organize a brainstorming session with your colleagues to come up with your main points, find landing pages that your ads will be linking to. Always try to put yourself in the place of the customer.
  • Use any SEO tool you like, run your main keywords through the keyword research module and export the data to Excel or Google spreadsheets. (Also, you can download the list of LSI keywords und search suggestions to have a comprehensive pool of keywords.)
  • Remove duplicates and unrelated keywords, split it up into campaigns and ad groups.
  • Test it in your campaigns! If it’s a first experience, conduct A/B testing. It might help to find out what keywords fit better for you.

When you already have a few campaigns, you can compare it to your competitors to find the keywords that you might have missed.

Go to Website analysis > Domain analysis > PPC Research > Domain vs Domain:

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What do we get?

This report can help to find the gaps in your PPC campaigns.

Landing pages

If you work in Serpstat or Semrush, just click on the title of the ad, and you will see the landing page that this ad is linking to.

Another way is to click the link directly from Google, without any tools. Go through the top ten different ads in the subject and assess the quality of the landing pages where visitors come.

What do we get?

You can assess the relevance of the landing page to the ad, the advantages and disadvantages of other sites compared to yours, find competitors’ mistakes.

If the link in the ad leads us to the irrelevant page, the bounce rate will be high. Always try to use a relevant title and text in your campaigns.

What else to check

  • Time of ads displaying — some simply show it around the clock, some only during the business time. Follow the patterns in your niche to find perfect time and save your budget.
  • Remarketing — channels they use; CTA, including discounts and bonuses.
  • Devices — check if their ads are displaying on other gadgets, not only via laptop.

Conclusions

The crucial aim of such analysis is to minimize the risk, as sometimes launching a PPC campaign without first analyzing competitors can go horribly wrong.

All this information about your competitors will come in handy when creating your campaign — find the patterns, find some ideas, identify their mistakes and avoid it in your work.

So spend a few days doing this, and it could cause you a saved budget!