If you’ve ever been in an auction, then you’re probably familiar with the quiet tension in the room when the auctioneer names the bid and the paddles start flying. Chances are you don’t know who the other bidders are or what their intentions are. You could be bidding against an avid collector, an investor who is hoping to double their profits, or a grandmother who wants something nice for their grandson – all in one competition for the same prize.

Pay-per-click (PPC) isn’t too different. You’re in a space with a variety of organizations all bidding for the same audience. That space can be crowded with 10, 20, 100 other organizations all bidding for the same audience. How do you ensure that you’re always coming out on top winning? You minimize and outcompete the competition! Let’s look at how to analyze your competition and prepare a competitor strategy.

Who Is Your Competition?

This one may seem obvious, but a thorough analysis of who your competition is in your section of the market can bring some surprising findings. Most companies will be able to list their direct competitors and advantages. In some instances, you can expect to compete with these direct competitors for a share of the search traffic. However, in PPC, you’re using keywords and/or web page placements as targets for your advertisements. These targets can be much more universal than you’d initially think.

For example, a car sales company wants to use PPC to boost sales leads. So, they create a campaign that targets keywords like “used car” and “car sales.” On a surface level, these keywords will attract people interested in used cars and car sales. However, long-tail searches can also net people searching for “used car parts,” “toy car sales,” and “car insurance sales.” You’ve suddenly found yourself competing with car repair shops, insurance companies, and the local toy store.

Learning who your indirect competitors are is best done as a process overtime. There are many tools that can subscribe to or purchase for a list of your competitors like SpyFu, SEMRush, AdGooroo, and BrandVerity. If these tools aren’t something your team is interested in, then manually searching your keywords and noting competitors and their placements will do the same. Taking this a step further – with information on your ad’s search queries, you can get a complete view of who comes up in search.

How do we cut out our indirect competition?

Cutting out indirect competitors with negative targeting methods can greatly save your budget and help bring in qualified conversions. Negative targeting methods focus your campaigns into the search queries you want to compete in. Some negative targeting methods to consider:

  • Negative Keywords: Most PPC platforms will allow you to be as broad or precise as you want with match types. Consider mixing both and monitor your impressions to ensure your match type isn’t negating valuable traffic. You may also want to consider adding adverbs like “free.”
  • Geotargeting: Consider where your target demographic is searching from. Some platforms will allow you to target areas as small as a neighborhood to as large as a country. For example, if your landing page and ads are in English, then you may want to restrict your targeting to predominantly English-speaking countries.
  • Ad Schedules: Chances are your PPC traffic will have peak hours. By setting an ad schedule, you’re investing your budget when it is most effective.

What if overlap is inevitable?

There will be times when a valuable keyword and/or page placement creates overlap into unrelated markets. For example, the word “software” can span numerous contexts and hold considerable value. If you offer a software development service, then “software” is a word where you’ll need to carve your own a niche in PPC.

First, you want a firm understanding of your competitor’s messaging. How does their advertisement relate to the keyword and landing page? In what ways is it similar and different from your own? Knowing the answers to these questions can give you a better perspective of who they are targeting and how to best differentiate your ads. Some ad elements to look out for are:

  • Their call to action.
  • Brand names.
  • Display URL and paths.
  • Advertisement extensions: Site links, call numbers, reviews, etc.

If the competition overlap is inevitable and bidding for the first average position is high, then you want to focus on these ad elements and make them stand out as much as possible. The goal here is to bring attention to your ads in a space where the search vertical is crowded and uniform. If your ad stands out and speaks directly to your target, then you increase the chance of winning over those sought-after conversions.

After analyzing who is competing in your space and where you fit, it’s time to look at your potential competitors. These are the competitors who aren’t currently in your space, but they might be on the verge of entering. Keep an eye out for part two of our blog and learn more about analyzing these competitors.

Optimizing your PPC to gain the most conversion at a competitive bid can be challenging. Start seeing results with your PPC by speaking with an expert today by filling out our form! With 10-years of experience in developing successful PPC strategies, Strongpages has generated significant results for clients in a variety of competitive industries.

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