PPC Competitor Research & Analysis

15 minutes

Key points you can
learn in this lesson.

Tools and Practices

Understand tools and best practices to identify competitor paid keywords.

Estimate Budgets

Discover how to estimate competitor PPC budgets.

Analyze Competitor Data

Develop the skills required to analyze competitor landing page experience and offers

Our key metrics increased. More importantly, we implemented a lot of new tactics and test scenarios, which will boost our company’s future prospects.

Dave McCue
Digital Marketing Manager at Allstate

Lesson Preview

In this lesson, we’ll be walking through how to identify valuable keywords in the competitive landscape, and how to differentiate yourself from the competition. 

What is Competitor Research?

Competitor research involves understanding how your business fits into the competitive landscape. This includes looking into their messaging, offerings, and paid keywords. 

Why is this important?

By understanding how your competition positions themselves and the strategies they employ, you’ll be better able to differentiate yourself and uncover opportunities you can exploit within paid search. 

What you’ll need:

  • Spyfu Account – Free Trial: https://www.spyfu.com/freeaccount
  • A Google Ads Account
  • Template: Competitor Research
  • Template: Competitor Landing Page Analysis
  • Directive Example: Competitor Research
  • Directive Example: Competitor Landing Page Analysis

The Process:

Step 1: Identify Your Competitors

You probably have a good idea of who your top competitors are. Identifying these competitors is key to the rest of the lesson. If you are not sure, a good way to find out is:

1. Input your core offerings into the Google search bar:

  • We see 2 companies above us bidding on one of our core offerings. We can assume these are direct competitors in the space.

2. Find three competitors to perform the analysis. You’ll be able to identify paid competitors as they’ll have a green “ad” badge before the URL.

  • Note: It is important to focus on paid competitors. If they are spending money on keywords with your core offerings, it is likely a key focus of their business

3. After you have your three competitors, you are ready for step 2. 

Step 2: SpyFu – Domain Analysis

Now that you have your free SpyFu account set up and your competitors picked out, it is time to understand where they are spending their Google Ads budget. If you have not yet created a free SpyFu account, please go ahead and do so and then return to this step.

1. Navigate to  https://www.spyfu.com/auth/login and input your credentials for your free trial account and login:

2. Once in, navigate to the “PPC Research” tab on the top navigation bar. Then input the first competitor in the search bar:

  • Here, you’ll get a high-level overview of your competitor’s monthly estimates. The higher these numbers, the more data you’ll have to work with. If your competitor has a very low amount of paid keywords, you may want to choose a different competitor.

3. Now, locate the left-hand navigation bar and click on the “Keywords” tab:

  • Here, you can see which keywords your competitors spend the most on, and get monthly estimates on these keywords. These keywords are likely the main focus in your competitor’s Google Ads account. If you see any that are relevant to your business, you’ll want to write these down and consider adding them to your upcoming campaign. 

4. Copy down the keywords and their major metrics onto the competitor research spreadsheet template on the “most profitable keywords” tab (template found here. This is just a template, you’ll need to make a copy. You’ll use this sheet later when formulating your PPC strategy. 

5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 for your other competitors. You should now have a good idea of your competitor’s investments in paid search, and the core keywords they value the most.

Step 3: SpyFu – Kombat Analysis

Now that we have some keywords in mind that SpyFu has deemed “most profitable” to each individual competitor, it is time to see where they all compete. 

1. In SpyFu locate the top navigation bar and click on “Kombat”

2. Input your 3 competitors, and click “Fight”

3. An interactive pie chart will populate, visualizing the paid real estate each competitor has. Click on the section of the chart where all 3 competitors intersect:

  • Clicking here will filter the list of keywords to only include keywords ALL THREE competitors bid on. This is a great indicator that the keywords are very valuable and worth including in your campaigns as long as they are still relevant to your business. Export this list and copy down the keywords onto the “Kombat” tab of the spreadsheet:

4. Because the export only gives rough estimates on keyword metrics, we’ll be utilizing the Google Keyword Planner to get more definitive data. Within Google Ads, navigate to “Tools & Settings” then click “Keyword Planner”:

5. Now, click on “Get search volume and forecasts” and input the keywords you copied from the SpyFu “Core Niche” back in 3a:

6. Then, you’ll get your keyword estimates. Copy down the volume and CPCs onto the “Kombat” tab of the Competitor Research spreadsheet.

7. Save this sheet for later. This keyword data will help shape your campaign strategy in later lessons.

Step 4: 3rd-Party Directory Research

Now that we have a better understanding of the paid landscape, it is time to investigate the organic side through review sites/directories.

1. Input your first competitor into the Google search bar and add “reviews” on the end of the competitor name:

Related lessons.

Get full access to all lessons
today for only $39/mo.