Competitor Research for PPC: 6 Tools to Measure Your Competition

21 February 2014

The saying goes that to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and this is perhaps something you should apply to your search campaigns. Competitor research can be invaluable when starting a new campaign, how competitive is the market place and how much will I need to spend to get some saturation? From the keywords they are targeting to their approach to creative and ad copy, analysing your competitors’ approach to PPC can give you new ideas, highlight keywords you might have missed, or even reassure you that your own attempts are superior! However, complacency is dangerous: you never know when they might start to improve!

Fortunately, there are numerous tools available that can help with getting into the real detail of this kind of competitor analysis, and in this post we will look at six of them.

Spyfu

Spyfu claims to, “expose the search marketing secret formula of your most successful competitors”. Users can search for any domain and quickly gain access to information about every keyword they have ever bid for on AdWords, everywhere they have appeared on Google and every ad they have published, going back over six years.

Some users have reported receiving inaccurate data from Spyfu, yet it remains a useful tool due to the vast amount of information it provides around your competitors’ targeted keywords and their ad copy over time.

SEMRush

When a user inputs a URL into the SEMRush interface, they instantly receive details of that website’s biggest competitors, the text they have used in their ads, where they appear for their most highly-targeted keywords and what proportion of their ad budget - and their traffic - are related to these keywords. Social media marketers can also access information on their competitors’ Facebook accounts, and PPC account managers who want to see how well someone is performing on Bing can see these details, too.

iSpionage

iSpionage offers users the opportunity to, “benchmark their campaign against other advertisers in their niche”, allowing PPC marketers to compare their competitors’ performance to their own. You can also sign up to receive alerts whenever your competitors add new keywords or new ad copy to their PPC campaign. What you learn, in terms of keywords, can then be applied to your own PPC ads directly through the iSpionage website.

Wordtracker

Wordtracker is an online tool for keyword research. The user inputs a key term relating to their brand, product or service, and Wordtracker delivers hundreds of variations on that keyword, based on real searches by real people.

Wordtracker also offers some functionality to research your competitors, by identifying whether a particular keyword is worth targeting (their Keyword Effectiveness Index), and by measuring how much competition you would have if you targeted a particular word or phrase.

Ubersuggest

While Ubersuggest does not offer functionality to directly compare your PPC ad campaigns to your competitors, it provides an incredibly effective way to carry out keyword research and identify any keywords related to your brand that you might have missed. The results come from actual searches carried out by Google users.

Majestic SEO

MajesticSEO is an online tool that allows PPC and SEO professionals to look at the backlink history, site strengths and link statistics of any competitor. Like all of the tools mentioned, it should be used as part of a suite of competitor analysis practices, because the information gleaned and presented is based on information they compile from search engines and other open resources, rather than any direct access to your competitors’ account.

There's no doubt the information these services provide is valuable, but remember that they may not be 100% accurate, and should it by no means be the sole base of keyword research. Use these tools to support the work your doing and as a way to benchmark against others in the field.