Comparing yourself to your competitors is the key to successful PPC

When it comes to PPC performance analytics in marketing, you’ll do well to keep your friends close but your competitors closer. Like in a game of chess, in order to make well-informed and intelligent decisions about your next move, you need to know what’s happening on the board.

What if we told you that you can use competitor analysis for PPC to use your competitor’s performance data to your advantage? In order to understand how well your brand is represented online, it’s imperative that you have a thorough understanding of the advertising market – and that includes what’s going well for other participants – so that your next move will clear the way to success.

The importance of being nosy

Essentially, competitor analysis is just a fancy term for the process of identifying competitors in your industry and working out what’s working for them. By gaining a better understanding of other businesses’ marketing strategy – especially those who are doing something similar to you – you can adapt your PPC strategy accordingly so that you remain at the top of your game.

Their marketing strategy, like yours should, will include keywords, bids, ad formats and audience analysis if it’s worth anything at all. By analysing the strengths and weaknesses of their ad campaigns, you can identify problems before they arise for your own paid content, and improve your ads so that you dominate the field in the areas where your competitors are falling short.

A bit of healthy competition

The best way to view your industry competitors when it comes to ad campaigns is as creative inspiration. If they’ve got ad content that is clearly appealing and good at driving traffic to their site, you need to make sure you understand how you can draw the same volume, if not more, attention to your own products and services.

When it comes to advertising campaigns, there’s a reason why the marketing world uses terms like “auction” and “bidding” to talk about securing the most advantageous keywords for your website. Simply outbidding your competitors for the keywords that are most relevant for your online visibility might work for a while, but it’s a sure fire way of blasting through your PPC budget if all you’re bringing to the chessboard is a higher bid.

It’s all well and good knowing which keywords are producing a high volume of results, but unless you’ve identified how your competitor has incorporated them into their ad campaign you won’t be able to maximise them for your own optimum PPC results. Alternatively, a more thorough knowledge of terms obtained through keyword research allows you to exclude search terms from your own ad campaigns in order to make the most of your budget by appearing only to those customers most likely to have an intent to buy.

Instead, we recommend making use of a competitor analysis tool such as Semrush, SE Ranking or Google Ads Auction Insights. By uncovering your competitor’s paid strategy, from their profitable ad copy to their landing pages, you can set realistic budgets for your own campaigns, find the most profitable (rather than just the most popular) keywords, and get inspired by compelling ad copy.


This tool allows you to identify and profile your competitors so that you can analyse their product, pricing, placement and promotional strategies against your own. Semrush also provides a historical overview of competitors’ PPC strategies so that you can understand their marketing evolution against your own.

SE Ranking

SE Ranking provides a 360 degree view of your competitors’ SEO and PPC strategies. It does this by analysing site traffic, looking at keyword targeting and revealing your competitors’ most profitable ad campaigns.

Google Ads Auction Insights

As well as providing a general report of how your ads compare with those of your competitors and how they stand up against you at auction level, this tool also shows impression share, overlap rate, positive above rate and outranking share.

Tracking others’ results to enhance your own

When carrying out a competitor analysis, there are certain things you should be looking for which will really help your company get the edge over your industry  rivals.

Making an impression

To achieve a higher ROI, your ads first need to make an impression. This is where first impressions really do count…in terms of being the first to make an impression above your competitors. Once you know the extent of your competitor’s outreach, you can compare their visibility to yours and use it to maximise your own impressions.

Quality and quantity

While a high quantity of content might seem like it will generate more impressions, often when it comes to advertising you need to be looking at the Google Ads Quality Score to determine your ads’ relevance. Google will use a series of metrics such as CTR, keyword relevance and landing page quality to assess the overall quality of your campaigns.

Rating your Click-through-rate

Your CTR is the ratio of users who click through your ad to your website, compared to the total number of users who it makes an impression on. You want this number to be high (ideally, higher than your competitors) because this indicates how well your ads and keywords are performing. Remember, when it comes to advertising, ultimately it’s all about people engaging with them.

Cost-effective Cost-per-click

In order to determine whether you’re overspending (or underspending) on your ad bids, you can compare the cost-per-click (this is the amount you pay for each click on your ads) with your competitors’.

Competitor conversions

Ultimately, a high conversion rate is one of the biggest indicators that your ads are successful. This is because a conversion signals the end of the lead generation process that transforms a browser to a buyer.

There are a range of tools available to help you accurately estimate your competitors’ traffic so that you can compare this with your own number of conversions.

You should compare yourself to others

Ultimately, your competitors are one of your best assets when it comes to analysing your own performance. Not only do their successes give you a benchmark for achievement, allowing you to set realistic goals for your own company, but its also a useful way to see what isn’t working so you can steer away from these strategies with your own PPC campaign.

At the end of the day, while you’re all playing the game of advertising, you still need to know first and foremost what works for your company. It’s also important to remember that what works will change and evolve as the market does. Stay vigilant, stay innovative, and never underestimate your competitors.

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