Competitive Intelligence: Tracking Organic & Paid Keywords

Competitive Intelligence: Tracking Organic & Paid Keywords

September 5, 2023

If you openly shared your advertising plan, you’d feel exposed. Anyone who knew what you were planning could stay ahead of you. Your competitors could create ads knowing who you’re trying to reach and what you say when you get them. That would be a significant advantage, and we suggest you do that to your competitors: improve your competitive intelligence.

Competitor keyword analysis is the most essential part of your e-commerce SEO strategy. The goal of your research is based on finding new opportunities to generate traffic. 

If you can optimize your website based on the right keywords, you can generate high-quality traffic by showing up organically in relevant search engines.  

Learn Your Competitor’s Keywords

By tracking your competitors’ organic and paid keywords, you can see the content 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 constantly growing and changing, you could always have new competitors to guard against. Staying on top of these threats is essential, and keywords are the easiest way to start.

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

You can collect information on those search results on millions of terms, including the advertisers. 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 most significant competition across your keyword list.

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

We believe heavily in the value of learning from what your competitors have in common with each other. 

Detect Shared Keywords

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

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 lineup.

You can find these keywords through tools like SpyFu. The tool automatically detects your biggest paid search competitors by entering your domain. 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 can make bad choices. They take risks. While either competitor might dabble in a few unprofitable keywords, both competitors will agree on the ones that pay off in the long run.

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

As we mentioned above, advertising on a keyword is notable for competitive intelligence. 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 need to check their ad performance more closely. However, no one will 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

List Your Top Keywords

Once you’ve researched your competitor’s keywords and how they spend their money, you can list the top keywords you want to rank for. These keywords must be the ones you wish your target customers to search for. Therefore, you should ensure that keywords are relevant, competitive, and aligned with your business. It will allow you to strengthen your competitive intelligence as well.

Prioritization is the key to your list. You must strategically choose the keywords and try to improve your rankings based on them. Improving your rankings in search results might take some time, but you can notice the difference. Remember to compare your keyword’s ranking with your competitor’s.

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 its most dominant message in a way that we can’t ignore. You can see what’s working best for your business.

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 allows you to watch their rankings — paying attention to ups and downs.

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


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