Who Is Your Competition? The 5 W’s of a Thorough Analysis


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In a perfect world, your PPC ads would always show at the top of search results, no matter how broad your keywords are. And, when your target audience sees the ad, they always click on it.

In reality, though, you have a lot of challenges to face, from keywords discovery and selection to ad copy. But, there’s probably one important step of the process that you are neglecting. We’re talking about competitors’ analysis.

Understanding what your competitors are doing can help you reevaluate and improve your PPC strategy. So, ask yourself, do you know who your competitors are? Do you monitor the impact of their paid search campaigns? Do you know if they’re bidding for the same keywords as you?

If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, read on for some tips on thorough competitor analysis.



If you don’t know who you’re fighting against, how can you stay ahead of them? Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to pull out the data and study some relevant metrics:

  • Impression Share: This metric will tell you how often similar advertisers receive an impression, taking into account the number of auctions in which you were also participating.
  • The Overlap Rate: This data will tell you how often your competitors’ ads receive an impression at the same time your ad also received one.
  • The Position above Rate: This metric will tell you when your competitors’ ads were shown in a higher position than yours for cases when they were both displayed.
  • Top of Page Rate: This metric will let you know exactly how often other advertisers’ ads appear at the top of the page, above organic search results.
  • Outranking Share: This data will show you when your ads rank higher than others in auctions, or when your ads showed up, and theirs didn’t.

Staying on top of who your competitors are and which of their ads perform better than yours is a job in and of itself. If you don’t have an AdWords consultant to help you strategize, then you need a system in place. Get familiar with AdWords’ Auction Insights and use it to generate graphs that will illustrate your competitors’ metrics alongside your data.


Here’s the thing: you will not have two competitors that are the same. Instead, you will face a wide range of adversaries, from big budget ones to some you can barely call competition. But it’s important to know who you’re up against, whether we’re talking about affiliates, CSE (Comparison Shopping Engine), OTA (online travel agency sites), partners, search arbitragers, resellers, or no trademark advertisers.

You can use numerous resources and tools to monitor your competitors, track PPC keyword trends, or compare channel activity between different domains.


Don’t even try to track your competitors’ every little move. It’s impossible, and you will only waste your time and resources. Instead, try to label the top performing keywords and monitor any big changes. Additionally, you can set up alerts, reports and automated bidding rules for top performing campaigns, ad groups or keywords, and send them directly to your email.


Sometimes competitors will bid on your keywords just for the sake of doing it, and for inflating their costs per click. However, most of the times, they will try to show ads on the same keywords for the same reasons you’re doing it. So, the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to review their strategy and craft a good strategy of your own.

There are a few tools you can use to get more detailed data on your competitors, such as SpyFu AdWords History Report, iSpionage Ads Report and SEMRush Ad Copies Report. And while you can’t control what they’re doing, you can test your strategy and see how it’s performing against them.


Although knowing who your competitors are and what they’re doing is important, you shouldn’t spend every waking minute wondering about their every move. Your number one priority should be your own results, despite any disturbance from other advertisers.

Now that you’re fully prepared, next time you feel under attack by your competitors, you’ll know what to do – get some research done and get to work!