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4 Ways to Monitor Your PPC Competitors

August 11, 2017
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Implementing a successful PPC strategy involves not only the knowledge and experience of your team, but also the monitoring of your competitors. Every business should keep an eye on the competition to see what they’re offering and promoting in the industry.

A competitive analysis is often done at the start of a campaign, but it’s a smart idea to “keep tabs” throughout different buying seasons and industry trends. Why does monitoring matter? There are several ways it can prove beneficial to your marketing initiatives, such as discovering new opportunities by seeing what your competition is doing, forecasting changes, and reviewing any potential threats to your business.

It’s nice to think that all your marketing ideas will be original and successful, but some of the best marketing campaigns have stemmed from one business challenging the other to do better. Often times in digital marketing, we learn the most through A/B testing to help us identify the winning strategy and ultimately achieving success.

Related: 5 Things Your PPC Agency Should Always Be Monitoring

If you see an influx of traffic, sales, or other notable wins from your competitor, ask yourself how you can mimic and more importantly, exceed the results. Find what kind of opportunities arise when you start paying closer attention to your competitors.

Monitoring your competitors can also help you forecast changes. Just as you likely work on a monthly or quarterly strategy system, so do your competitors. Do they launch a new asset every six months? Do they promote an old product on a three-month rotation? Understanding these types of insights from your competitor(s) will alert you to when another change is coming in their strategy and how to use it to your advantage.

Lastly, you want to monitor your competition to combat potential threats. The reason why consistent monitoring is important is because competition often changes throughout the years. For example, the Hiltons and Marriott’s of the world may not immediately view Airbnb as a direct competitor, but it is still a brand they should keep on their radar due to the change in industry and consumer trends.

Bottom line: monitoring your competitors should be part of your strategy, especially when it comes to your PPC campaigns. Check out our 4 recommendations on how you can monitor your PPC competitors.

Utilize SEMRush

SEMRush is a great tool for competitive research. It allows you to gather insight into what keywords your competitors are bidding on, which are the highest performing, and how much money is being spent. You can also see your competitor’s ad copy and get ideas to help you create new variations to test.

The data provided through this tool allows you to track what your competitors are doing, while also avoiding some of their common mistakes. Additionally, using SEMRush allows you to localize your campaigns. You can review ad data in more than 20 languages spanned over 100 countries, ensuring your ads are relevant to the location you’re targeting.

Related: Keyword Research Tips for the PPC Beginner

SEMRush also gives marketers the opportunity to track positioning for specified keywords and across different devices. With so much data at your fingertips, it makes it easier to optimize your campaigns and make the most of your advertising budget, while at the same time assessing what your competitors are doing as well.

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Review Metrics Via Auction Insights

Take advantage of the information available through your AdWords dashboard by reviewing theAuction Insights report. This gives you an accurate look at your competitor’s average position, impression share, and other helpful metrics that will show you where you rank.

In order to view this report:

1. Click on the Campaigns, Ad Groups, or Keywords tab based on what information you want to see in the report.

2. Select the specific campaigns, ad groups or keywords you want data to review.

3. Click the Details box at the top of the statistics table and click Selected or All from the dropdown.

4. Auction Insights report will then populate

Once you generate your report, use it to leverage the information to identify opportunities and implement changes to your campaign. Metrics to review for optimization include:

Impression share – the number of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.

Consider increasing your keyword bids, if your competitors are capturing more impression share than you. The goal here is to increase the amount of impressions your ad is shown, you can identify where opportunities are available.

Avg. position – how your ad typically ranks against other ads.

How do your ads stack up against your competitors? Make sure your ads are as relevant to the keywords of that ad group as possible and utilize landing page content where ads are driven to improve your ad’s position.

Overlap rate – how often another advertiser’s ad received an impression in the same auction that your ad also received an impression.

Related: Increase the Success of Your Paid Search Campaigns with These Landing Page Best Practices

This information lets you know which advertisers you are competing with the most. Make a list of these competitors and start research on how they’re performing and gather insights as to what is leading to their successes (or failures).

Position above rate – how often another advertiser’s ad in the same auction shows in a higher position than your own, when both of your ads were shown at the same time.

This gives you a look at which competitor’s ads are performing best and you can perform a search on SEMRush to review their ad copy to get ideas and inspiration to optimize your own. Is there certain Unique Selling Proposition being shared that you’re not including in your ads? This information is valuable, especially as you perform A/B testing.

Top of page rate – how often your ad (or the ad of another advertise) was shown at the top of the page in search results.

This shows which ads get the most exposure at the top of the page. Again, you’ll want to use SEMRush to look at your competitor’s’ ad copy and adjust your own strategy as needed.

Outranking share – how often your ad ranked higher in the auction than another advertiser’s ad, or if your ad showed when theirs did not.

Holding similar weight as the last two metrics, this data gives you a direct insight into which advertisers are performing best and taking a look at their ad copy to see what’s triggering its success.

Once you’ve analyzed the data through the Auction Insights report, you can test changes and continue to monitor your competitors. What are they doing that you aren’t? Or, what are they doing that you can do better?

Set Up A Bidding Strategy

As shown in the Auction Insights report, you can identify which competitor is outranking your ads. An easy way to combat that is to set up a bidding strategy for the specific campaign, ad group, or keyword that is falling behind your competitors.

When you set up a Target outranking share bid strategy, ensure your settings are properly implemented. If you know your biggest competitor’s URL, enter it as your benchmark domain. Or, you can choose from the list of domains provided, if your campaign has enough data to show you which ones have recently bid in the same auction as your ads.

Related: 11 Settings You Need to Check Before Posting a New AdWords Campaign

Set your maximum bid limit. Even if you want to outrank your competitors, there is still a budget to think about. By setting your limit, this marks the highest CPC bid you’re willing to go for keywords, ad groups, and campaigns. You can also choose whether to set manual or automated bids, meaning AdWords will raise or lower bids automatically or you can set them yourself.

Implementing a bid strategy can take up to a day for bids to be updated and up to seven days before you start seeing results. Because of this, once you’ve set your bid strategy, wait to see results for at least a week to test what’s working and what’s not.

Identify New Opportunities With Keyword Planner

Utilize the keyword planner to review search volume around the keywords competitors are bidding on and identify if there are keyword expansion opportunities. You can also use this tool to help ideate ad text as well as checking your competitor’s keywords by plugging in their URLs.

Find out what kind of keywords your competitors are using and either add them to your own list and/or think of ways to use them in your ad copy.

Monitor Your Competition And See More Campaign Success

It’s not enough to have a good PPC strategy; you have to have one better than your competition. Even if you have all the right pieces in place, it won’t matter if your competition is always one step ahead of you with their promotion, the ad copy and keywords they’re bidding on, and how they’re keeping track of their own competition.

When monitoring your competitors, notate changes in their campaigns to look for trends, glean insights, and avoid similar mistakes in your own strategy. In order to be a top performing company in the industry, you need to look beyond your own work. It’s always a good game plan, whatever your marketing initiatives are, to pay close attention to the competition.




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