The Importance of Analyzing Competitor PPC Strategies Guest Author A guest blog from Anna Rud, Content Marketer at Serpstat. It’s important to put in extensive background work when it comes to shaping your PPC strategy. It’s equally important to do your research for an SEO strategy, but paid ads take not only your time and effort but also your money. This means you should be gathering exhaustive information about your niche before embarking on creating your strategy. What’s more, neither an SEO expert nor a how-to article can give you as much valuable and specific to your niche information as your competitors can. In this post, I’ll show you how to analyze your competitor’s PPC ads and how those results can help you shape your own strategy. What’s the plan? find your competitors; collect their ads; estimate the completeness and quality of the ads; figure out whether there are extensions; estimate the relevance of the ads; check if landing pages fit the ads; see if the keywords are relevant to the ads; evaluate competitors’ remarketing; check if their ads are displaying on other devices, not only via laptop. Step #1: Preparations First and foremost, you should gather commercial queries your competitors are bidding on. It could be a list of your products, which you are going to promote through PPC advertising. For instance, “social media agency”, “pizza delivery”, “graphic design help”, etc. Create a spreadsheet If you’re doing a thorough data analysis, you must organize the data properly! I suggest creating a Google spreadsheet to collect all information together in one place. Here is my example of such a spreadsheet: The columns may differ depending on your goals and how deep your investigation goes. Step #2: Find your competitors Method #1: Google it The simplest way is to google keywords you chose earlier and explore the paid results. The biggest disadvantage of this method is that Google is connected to your region so you can’t see other regions’ ads. If you want to analyze your niche in full, this tactic won’t do. Method #2: use an SEO tool Tools such as ours, Serpstat, help to find all the ads in your niche by certain keyword for all countries. This method has a disadvantage that you can turn into an advantage: tools can’t gather ads in real time. Serpstat shows data that is available in its database since the last update. It means that you won’t be able to see some of the newest ads. On the other hand though, you are able to see the ads that have been removed up to the time of your search! Another advantage is the ability to see all the ads by the query. In a Google search, you can’t see more than eight ads. In Serpstat you see 986 specifically in the US. Step #3: Collect the ads You can export all data into the spreadsheet automatically or copy it manually. Here is what it should look like: Step #4: Analyze it! Title and text It’s vital to read these ads carefully. Find strong and weak spots of your competitors’ ads by answering these simple questions: What’s most appealing about the ad? Does it promote a brand name? Does it incite trust? Does it address customers’ problems? What is the unique selling proposition? What’s the most appealing about the ad? I like that they pointed the price right in the text of the ad. A customer can understand if it meets his or her expectations without even going to the site. At the same time, no one likes clickbait! If there is only one pizza for $8 when all the others cost twice as much, I wouldn’t write about it in the ads. Most people won’t appreciate it and might consider it a lie. Does it promote a brand name? Yes. They put their name and tagline in the title. Does it incite trust? Yes. The price in the title gives a feeling of clarity and honesty. But I’ll repeat it: walk the walk! Does it address the customers’ problems? A bit. I know, “cheap” and “expensive” are not the same for everyone, but the ad does make it seem that they’ll be cheaper than others. What is the unique selling proposition? The same answer. See, it helps to understand the main goals of this ad, the strategy, and the gaps in the strategy. Do this with 10-20 ads of your most successful competitors, and you’ll be ready to create your own campaign based on competitors’ strategies. Eventually you can take all best ideas from your competitors and avoid making their mistakes. For instance, this one: The USP is great — 50% off is a generous discount, but the phrase “start eating better” may sound a bit insulting to some people. Who says there is something wrong with the food I eat? This ad below is successful because they attached a coupon code just to the ad. It may engage more users. Extensions Using the method of collecting ads, we can check if our niche competitors use extensions and decide if you should try it too. Here we see that both ads have extra links that lead to their products. It’s a good idea to at least test out extensions in your PPC ads. The relevance of the landing page to the ad Landing pages are wildly important to your PPC ads, relevancy score and results. Your landing page choices can make or break your strategy! Here are a few sample landing pages that follow different strategies. This one refers us to a long, daunting registration page. It’s a bad idea. This big form looks a bit scary, and there is no registration via social media. Moreover, I don’t think someone would fill it out without even seeing menu options. Another ad leads us just to the menu. That would be the best option for a landing page in this niche: This one leads to the page where you can get a discount, as was promised. Honesty is always the best policy: (Forgive me if you’re reading this at work, and I’m torturing you with these photos of food.) The biggest mistake is to lead to some strange irrelevant page like this: It just refers you to the site with a different URL. The relevance of the keywords to the ad Serpstat is capable of identifying what keywords your competitor is bidding on in search advertising. The keywords should be relevant to the text of ad and to the landing page. It seems to be an obvious thing, but this ad is bidding on the keyword “pizza delivery seattle” when it leads to the menu with a bunch of other products: It was difficult to find pizza among the other options on the landing page. Remarketing There is no tool for tracking remarketing of the competitors, so you’ll have to do it manually. Just click around the ads of competitors, subscribe to the newsletter or make an order and then cancel it. Then observe for several days, whether they are catching up to you with repeat advertising, and in what format. This way you can find and assess competitors’ remarketing channels, offers, bonuses and discounts. Devices Check if their ads are displaying on other devices, not only laptops. If all your competitors show their advertising on smartphones, you shouldn’t miss this opportunity either. Now that you’ve analyzed your competitors’ strategies in-depth, finish your spreadsheet! Use the spreadsheet data thoughtfully, find the patterns, observe competitors’ mistakes, and adopt their good ideas. All this information can help you to create your own PPC campaign and save your own time and money. AUTHOR BIO Anna Rud is a Content Marketer at Serpstat, a growth-hacking tool for SEO, PPC and Content Marketing. Establishing an active presence on external resources, developing rich and quality content, implementing of brand strategy and many other are her key responsibilities.