Competitive Intelligence: Tracking Organic & Paid Keywords

Competitive Intelligence: Tracking Organic & Paid Keywords

March 12, 2018

If you openly shared your advertising plan, you’d feel exposed. If anyone knew what you were planning, they could stay a step ahead of you. Your competitors could create their ads knowing exactly who you’re trying to reach and what you say when you reach them. That would be a major advantage, and it’s why we suggest you do that exact thing to your competitors.

Learn your competitors’ keywords

By tracking your competitors’ organic and paid keywords, you can see the content that people find in a search on Google. Those pages pull in traffic at no extra cost. Those same businesses might draw people in with ads on Google searches, and you can see those paid keywords and the ad copy that goes with them.

All of this insight helps you build a strategy to guard against your competitors.

Because business is always growing and changing, you could always have new competitors to guard against. It’s important to stay on top of these threats, and keywords are the easiest ways to start.

At SpyFu, you’re able to make it easy for businesses to see their competitors’ AdWords campaigns and their SEO performance.

You can collect information on millions of terms, and that includes the advertisers on those search results. You tie it all together so that you can find the domains that compete with you on one keyword. Or, stretch out and find the ones that give you the biggest competition across most of your keyword list.

That helps you stay on top of your known competitors as well any emerging threats that you might have missed. Tracking those competitors will be a critical part of your own growth. In that way, new and rising competitors can prove more valuable. If they’re new, they’re not yet cluttered. They are latching onto the most crucial keywords right now and investing in what converts. The evidence of their success is the fact that they are creeping up on your keywords. Don’t drop what you’re doing, but do pay attention to any reminders you can grab from your new competitors.

In fact, we believe heavily in the value of learning from what your competitors have in common with each other.

Shared keywords are like voting

If one competitor advertises on (buys) a keyword, that’s worth noting. If a second competitor (or third) also buy that same keyword, then that’s a signal that you found a good keyword.

We believe that paying for a keyword for more than one month is like voting. The advertiser makes the active choice to pay for a click on their ad from this search. When multiple competitors of your vote for the same word, you can confidently add it to your own lineup.

You can find these keywords through tools like SpyFu. By entering your own domain, the tool automatically detects your biggest paid search competitors. It shows you the exact keywords they’re buying that you don’t.

It’s worth testing. (Ads are always worth testing.) But it’s far better than flying blind. You’ve drawn on the wisdom of the crowd. People who have been there before are leaving you hints of what works and what doesn’t–whether they realize it or not.

Wisdom of the crowd

No competitor is perfect. They make bad choices. They take risks. We believe that while either competitor might dabble in a few unprofitable keywords, both competitors are going to agree on the ones that pay off in the long run.

Most of us will never have a conversation with our top competitors about which ads convert best for them and which ones were time and money wasters. Instead, we have to take signals and clues from what they don’t realize they’re telling us.

Like we mentioned above, advertising on a keyword is notable. Advertising for a long time is better. And if they continue to pay for higher ad positions on this keyword, then that keyword is probably pulling its weight in the advertiser’s campaign.

Finally, we get that people fall asleep at the wheel. They might not check their ad performance that closely. However, we feel confident that no one is going to let a weak performing keyword drain their budget for too long.

Combining those ideas means that if we can spot keywords with these signs, then we can guess these convert well:

  • They advertise month after month on this keyword.
  • Their high ad position means that they pay well for the click
  • They test their messaging to make the most of a strong keyword

Learn your competitor’s best ad copy

We also see in historical data that a domain’s best ad copy tends to spring up across its top keywords. The domain spreads it most dominant message in a way that we can’t ignore. You can see what’s working best for them and adapt similar messaging in your own marketing.

In SpyFu’s Ad History tool, you can track where the same ad copy pops up on different keywords.

We know that Google lends a hand here, too. It tends to show the ad that gets the highest clicks. This makes the best-performing ad copy rise to the top. So now you’ve got your competitor’s favorite keywords and its best ad copy revealed for your research–no matter how they try to hide it.

Tracking changes

Tools can also help you track changes in your competitor campaigns. It helps you to watch their rankings — paying attention to ups and downs.

Learn more about this important part of competitor research. What starts as a curiosity for some people turns into an all-out advantage. Turn your competitors into your own testing machine. You can learn from their ads, their copy, and their content.


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