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5 Key Things Worth Analyzing in your Competitors’ PPC Strategies

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5 Key Things Worth Analyzing in your Competitors’ PPC Strategies

This post is in English
Daria Voronina
This post is in English
5 Key Things Worth Analyzing in your Competitors’ PPC Strategies

PPC can be hard, but the data you get from competitive research can make your job a whole lot easier. 

SEMrush is mostly known as a competitive intelligence suite, so it is no surprise that when it comes to PPC activities that we strongly rely on our competitor analysis. Based on our own experience, we have figured out five important things advertisers should keep tabs on to make the most of their research.

This post will help you better understand how to analyze your rivals’ AdWords strategies and use the accumulated information to achieve your goals. Our Advertising toolkit has been developed to help PPC specialists streamline their online marketing practices and take their competitive research to a whole new level.

Competitor Keywords: Discover What You Might Have Missed

No matter how much keyword research you do, there is always a risk that you can miss some relevant, high-potential terms and phrases. Exploring the competitive landscape can provide you with fresh ideas and boost your creativity. What keywords are your rivals using? Are your competitors bidding on terms you have missed?

Competitor keyword research

It is important to check where you are being outperformed so that you can shift your focus. The Keyword Gap tool allows you to compare your domain’s keyword portfolio to those of your closest competitors.

Enter the domains you want to analyze and select your “keyword type.” You can either compare the same keyword types (e.g., paid keywords) or compare one domain’s paid keywords to another domain’s organic keywords. You then need to choose the “intersection type” for the search terms. If you select “Unique to the first domain’s keywords,” you will be able to view terms you might not have considered for your PPC campaign.

Keyword Gap Analysis

In the first column, you can see the keywords that the first domain ranks for, but the second domain does not:

Keyword Gap Analysis

The report also allows you to dive deeply into data and discover more details:

  • A domain’s position in paid results for the given keyword.

  • Volume

  • Cost-per-click

  • Competitive density

  • Number of results

Key Takeaways: Discover terms and phrases your competitors are using in their ads and analyze data to understand how cost-efficient a certain keyword can be for your business. Do not look at paid keywords only, as organic terms can also provide you with some great ideas for your campaign. Be sure you do not let other PPC players seize your positions!

SEO Bonus: Enriching your keyword list with additional search terms can increase your chances of appearing in the SERPs next to your top competitors’ websites. The larger your keyword pool, the better your chances of reaching your prospective clients.

Keyword Research Tool for PPC

Discover local CPC, manage keywords and export to AdWords

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

Ads: Analyze Seasonality and Tailor Your Campaign Around It

To ensure the success of your AdWords campaign, you need to take a strategic approach. When planning your PPC campaign, it is worth analyzing seasonality to better understand what keywords are used most frequently by advertisers during certain months. These insights will help you make more informed decisions to get the best impact from your efforts.

The Ads History report in the Keyword Analytics section is the perfect place to view previous ads of competitive brands to analyze how specific keywords perform in paid search. The report allows you discover which months are the busiest in your niche in terms of online advertising and when is the off-season. Just type a term or phrase and hit the search button, and you will see a list of domains and a table, which shows where each domain’s ad ranked for this keyword in a specific month. A blank space means that the requested keyword wasn’t used for an ad campaign. To see how the ad appears on the results page, click on a box with a position number.

Ads History report

On the above screenshot, you can see that the domains mostly advertise for the term “sport shoes” in autumn and winter. This means that the competition is particularly high during this season. Therefore, it might be worth considering attracting your audience with more sales and special offers and increasing your advertising budget. Nevertheless, you should always keep in mind that what worked for others may not necessarily work for you in the same way.

Key Takeaways: Pay attention to the seasonal fluctuation that has an impact on how your PPC competitors use their ads. It will allow you to plan your campaign ahead of time. Use your rivals’ experience to avoid pitfalls and minimize potential errors in your strategy.

Ad Copy: Revitalize Your Ads

You are staring at a blank screen, feeling as if inspiration has left you once and for all. Or your ad copy seems boring and flat, and you have no idea how to breathe life into it. But do not get discouraged. You can easily overcome your blank page syndrome and reawaken your creativity by borrowing some ideas from your competitors.

Your rivals’ PPC ad copy can be a great source of inspiration. By "borrowing ideas" I mean consuming and analyzing other people’s inputs to spark your creative energy. You can discover how your rivals structure their ads in the Ad Builder tool. Just enter a seed keyword to see the text ads triggered by this keyword. Additionally, you can view the ads for a specific competitor.

Competitor text ads

To collect new ideas for your display ads, you can also explore data provided by our Display Advertising reports. Enter your competitor’s domain to see if they have advertising campaigns with display ads. If they do, in the “Ads” section of the report you will be able to view how their ads look and get other details, including publishers and countries where SEMrush has found the ad running.

Competitor display ads

When it comes to display advertising, creativity can work wonders. By incorporating the best ideas from your top competitors you can expand your marketing vision and nurture your creative spirit. It will help you create ads people won’t be able to resist the urge to click on.

Key Takeaways: Take the germ of an idea and start building from it. Analyze what your competitors tend to emphasize in their ads, whether it is discounts, free shipping, product quality, or compelling images. Adapt the collected ideas for your ads.

Pro Tip: Explore our SEMrush Annual E-commerce study to see the most popular emotional triggers and even the discount percentages used most frequently across different industries and countries.

Emotional triggers in ads

Mobile Usage: Enrich Your Multi-Device Strategy

According to Smart Insights, in most countries, people prefer multi-platform usage and they switch between mobile and desktop. To stay ahead of the PPC competition in 2018, advertisers should understand what works and what does not in the world of mobile paid search, so that they can effectively communicate their message to their customers.

Keep in mind that the keywords you target to appeal to desktop searchers may differ from the terms and phrases used in your mobile campaigns. Discovering the best practices of other advertisers can help you strengthen your efforts and build an effective mobile PPC strategy. In the Advertising Research report, you can view a mobile report in addition to the desktop report. You will be able to see a list of the mobile keywords that trigger ads for the analyzed domain and compare them to those from the desktop report.

Advertising research: desktop and mobile

If you are focusing your efforts on display advertising, it can be useful to analyze the Google Display Network ads of your competitors on different devices. Our Display Advertising reports enable you to compare the proportion of your rivals’ display ads on desktop, mobile, and tablet.

Display ads proportion by device

Keep in mind that the way different device types are targeted can vary significantly across different industries. Our Display Advertising Stats report shows that desktop remains the preferred device among advertisers in the software niche, meanwhile, the Retail Trade industry is mainly focused on iPad users and targets desktop in the campaign least frequently.

Key Takeaways: AdWords mobile advertising is the key to getting your business in front of people who are on the go and usually have a strong intent to make a purchase. Learn from your competitors to provide the best paid search experience to the mobile users. Use your findings to build a message that will perfectly appeal to your target audience.

Keyword Research Tool for PPC

Discover local CPC, manage keywords and export to AdWords

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

Organic vs. Paid: Uncover Your Rivals' Strategies

Last but not least, by looking at how other advertisers combine two of the biggest online strategies you can better understand what happens in the ever-changing search marketing landscape. When it comes to organic and paid search, there is a never-ending discussion. Should you bid on a keyword if you rank number one for that term organically? Or should you remove this keyword from your PPC campaign?

Organic and paid search results

Comparing your competitors’ organic and paid search efforts side by side will give you a good idea of which tactics are used by other advertisers in your niche. In the Keyword Gap tool, you can compare your rivals’ organic to paid keywords and see if they pay to advertise on terms that they already rank well for in the organic results.

Keyword gap analysis: paid vs organic

On the screenshot below, you can see that the analyzed website is running paid ads on some of the keywords that it already ranks for on the first page of Google.

Paid and organic keywords

Figuring out which keywords your competitors are after and what they are doing to rank for them will help you shape your PPC campaign. This information will be your ace in the hole: it can give you some direction on where to focus your ad spend.

Key Takeaways: Analyze how your competitors are doing in terms of organic versus paid search efforts. Find out both their most commonly used tactics, as well as gaps in their strategies. Use your findings to come up with ways to beat the PPC sharks in your industry.

Competitive Intelligence for the Competitive Edge

There is a limited amount of space on the desired first page of Google. The competition for users in paid search is as intense as it is in search, and it is becoming increasingly harder to differentiate yourself. One of the best ways to gain an advantage in the PPC battle is to conduct a thorough competitor analysis.

When researching and analyzing your competition, you need to focus on what really matters. Pay attention to the important aspects of your rivals’ campaigns as described above. With all these golden nuggets of information, you can try to forecast what your competitors are likely to do in the future, adjust your campaign accordingly, and pave your path toward PPC success.

Keyword Research Tool for PPC

Discover local CPC, manage keywords and export to AdWords

Please specify a valid domain, e.g., www.example.com

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Content Writer at SEMrush. I started writing from a young age. Four years ago, I broke into the world of digital marketing. Consider myself to be the lucky one.
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Daniel H.
Excellent advice. you stated "Key Takeaways: Analyze how your competitors are doing in terms of organic versus paid search efforts. Find out both their most commonly used tactics, as well as gaps in their strategies. Use your findings to come up with ways to beat the PPC sharks in your industry."

This is perfect, thank you.
Daria Voronina
Daniel H.
Hi Daniel, thank you for your comment! :) We've released another post on SEO and PPC recently that you may also find helpful https://www.semrush.com/blog/4-data-driven-tricks-to-find-optimal-mix-seo-ppc/
Saravanan Subramani
Great post Daria , this is really helpful. Time to refine my competitive intelligence process.!
Daria Voronina
Saravanan Subramani
Thank you, Saravanan! :) Glad you found it useful!
Sadman Rahman
Yes, It's really important to analyze these steps.You have to be top of your competitors.
Daria Voronina
Sadman Rahman
Thank you for your comment, Sadman! That's right! By doing competitive research you can identify fresh opportunities for your future campaign and gain great insights you can act upon.