Find, Track & Beat Your PPC Competition (to a Digital Pulp)

Up to date with all of our blogs? Followed each and every one of our tips for PPC mastery? For all the on-point advice in the world, if your competition are right there alongside you (following the very same tips), you could well be being outranked and outperformed.

You need an edge. You need to find, track and beat your competition if you’re not going to rely on outspending them for your online footfall. So, what’s the answer? As a starting point, you need to begin with a PPC competitor audit.

The PPC Competitor Audit – What’s the Point?

An effective PPC audit can provide a blueprint to creating campaign traction. When done right, it’ll help you answer questions such as:

  • How is your campaign performing compared to the rest of the industry?
  • How can you improve?
  • Who is leading the market? And can you replicate their success?

Ultimately a PPC audit drills down into potential threats that should be addressed, and uncovers opportunities to gain ground – helping you to understand the marketplace to craft your conversion funnel. A PPC audit will hand you insight into your competitors’:

  • Impression share
  • Keywords
  • Ads
  • Landing pages
  • Messaging


Now for the next question – where should you start?

Here’s our five step process for an all-encompassing PPC competitor audit…

#1 – Begin with you, not your competitors

Start by establishing some clarity. Ask yourself… what does your product or service do – what problem does it/they solve? What is it, precisely, that you sell?

Whilst you might resell home surround systems, what you really sell is entertainment in the home. Perhaps you’re a retailer of home security, yet what you truly provide is confidence that a home and the family within it are safe.

From this standing start, create basic customer personas which answers the questions as to basic demographics (gender, age, location), typical habits, concerns and desires (this template from Hubspot covers all that you need, and guides you through the process). If you target businesses, consider company size, industry type and individual buyer within the target company.

All of the above will help hone your campaign messaging in a way that your competitors may have overlooked.

#2 – Understand what your competitors USPs and UVPs are

Now we move onto what your competitors offer, that you don’t. The defining differences that are marketed by your competitors should be shaping your own message. Head on over to their websites and look at their Unique Value Propositions – we’ve provided a definition of a UVP and some examples below (and if you need some further insight into exactly what a Unique Value Proposition is, check out this blog from Unbounce).

Once you’ve collected your research, you should compare your competitor UVPs to the campaigns that they’re running. Look at their landing pages, the way they address visitor concerns, desires and questions, and the way in which their language reflects their UVP.

Image Credit: Unbounce

Image Credit: Unbounce

Image Credit: Conversion XL

Image Credit: Lean Labs

#3 – Data – Understand what you should be looking at

So now we get to it (you were probably wondering just when we were going to reach the data-based part, right?). Here’s the data you should be looking at in Google AdWords (and why)…

Outranking Share: How commonly have your ads ranked higher in the auction than all others?

Overlap Rate: How often did your competitors’ adverts grab an impression alongside yours?

Impression Share: How frequently are other advertisers receiving impressions on those search terms as a percentage?

Position Above Rate: How many times have your ads been outperformed by your competitors?

Top of Page Rate: How frequently have your competitors reached that prime top position?

With these questions, it’s time to return to qualitative research with this data under your belt…

#4 – Experience a search just as your visitors do

What ad extensions are your competitors using? Are they promoting limited time offers? Using Google extensions? How does their copy and messaging differ?

These key elements are all often overlooked when you consider data alone.

#5 – This, is, it – The landing page – where that conversion happens (or doesn’t)

Campaign analysis too often focusses on grabbing that click – on improving the metrics that lead to your landing page. But what of the landing page itself? This is where it happens (or not) – where they convert or where they leave (leaving you with nothing more than an AdWords bill that’s a little larger).

So take to your competitor landing pages…

First, go with your gut. Ask yourself, how do you feel upon seeing the page. Overwhelmed? Excited? Inspired? Motivated? Bored? Ready to take action?

Next, consider where your eyes move, from one element to the next. A solid landing page should flow through – from one selling point, to the next to the next and onto conversion when you’re primed and ready.

Finally, consider the content, the language, the tone and any information that is presented to guide your choice. How is the UVP communicated? And what visuals, headlines and information is working most effectively to compel that single action?

For more guidance on perfecting your own landing pages head on over to our blog: Creating a Checklist for Your PPC Landing Pages.


Need a helping hand?

Check out these three essential tools

Auction Insights via AdWords Campaign

The Auction Insights feature remains a key tool in your PPC arsenal, and provides for an essential baseline as to how much your competitors’ are prepared to pay for the same keywords as you.

Critically this tool will help you bolster your impression share by experimenting with your budget, quality score and bids.

Image Credit: Google


SEMRush provides absolutely up-to-date data on your competitors – available in both a free version and a more comprehensive premium product, SEM allows you to type in your competitors’ website and dig into their ad text, average positions for top ranking keywords and the budget dedicated to those keywords. All pretty handy stuff.

Image Credit: SeerInteractive

Check SEMRush Out



Similarly to SEMRush, iSpionage provides for a great starting base with the freemium level of their platform – offering a solid grasp on your competitors’ keywords and ranking, while the paid version steps it all up a gear, with the chance to create a new campaign based on the data presented.

Check iSpionage Out


Now, with the complete comprehensive picture – formed from both hardcore stats and facts and softer insight from qualitative research, you can move forward and apply changes in your campaign. And of course, always, always run split A/B tests on any tweaks you put in place.

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